Richard Roberts


Project Breakthrough Lead


Richard Roberts is the Breakthrough Innovation Lead at Volans, a transformation agency and think tank that works with leaders in all sectors to catalyse change that goes beyond the incremental.

Richard’s focus is putting sustainable development at the heart of business. Current projects include: a partnership with the UN Global Compact on “breakthrough innovation for the SDGs”, which spotlights – and helps companies grapple with – the new, exponential mindsets, business models and technologies needed to drive progress on the Global Goals; a “breakthrough cities” programme, developed in partnership with Innovate UK, which aims to catalyse effective responses to complex urban challenges; and a “new carbon economy” initiative that is about fostering the next generation of corporate climate action, with the ultimate aim of reversing global warming.

Prior to joining Volans in 2016, Richard spent four years at Leaders’ Quest, a social enterprise that specialises in experiential learning journeys (Quests) for individuals and organisations seeking to explore their role in the world. During his time there, he worked on a variety of transformation projects for multinational clients across banking, insurance, FMCG and auto manufacturing. His remit also included communications, business development and partnership-building.

Richard writes on sustainability issues for a range of media outlets. He has been published by (amongst others) Fast Company, The European Business Review and Guardian Sustainable Business. He is also a regular contributor to the Volans Medium channel.

Richard has a BA in history from Durham University and a Masters in US history from Oxford, where he specialised in the evolution of progressive political philosophy between 1880 and 1920 – a period when, like today, the future of capitalism hung in the balance and a new social contract between business, society and government was called for.

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