Manley Hopkinson

Company Director Ocean RacerPolar ExplorerKeynote SpeakerAuthorVeteranBusiness Leader

Manley Hopkinson is an explorer, author, accomplished keynote speaker, director, senior advisor and the leading voice in the field of Compassionate Leadership. His strength lies in creating and developing the transformational leadership behaviours which lead to commitment, engagement and ultimately performance.

Keynote Speaker

January 2001 at a big dinner in Wellington, New Zealand, celebrating the half-way stop on the BT Global Challenge, the intended after-dinner speaker, Sir Chay Blyth, pulled out at the very last minute, and I mean last minute – as the tables were being cleared in preparation for the speakers! I had 10 minutes to prepare. And so my career as a truly global keynote speaker began. I bring a unique blend of adventure and business, philosophy and practice, emotion and intellect to all my talks to sure that they are i-UMU – Inspirational, Understandable, Memorable and, critically, Useable.

I will spend time with you to get to know your journey and so highlight elements of mine that add value to yours. I aspire to be entertaining, though provoking, educational and relevant.

Ocean Racer

My final voyage after 10 years as a professional Skipper was the ultimate challenge of the “worlds toughest yacht race” – around the world the wrong way as a skipper in the famous BT Global Challenge with an all amateur crew; 32,000 miles taking 9 months against the wind and the tides. A life changer for us all in a profoundly positive way; it was the step into the world I have worked in ever since as I learnt so much about leadership, teamwork and myself. It was the “perfect storm” of a very human challenge, with a supporting documentary (great photos and videos) and a published analysis of the leadership of the Skippers.

I still sail, of course, as a regular racer in the UK and with cruising forays in warmer waters!

Polar Explorer

There are many transferable skills from sailing to polar exploring particularly for navigation, nutrition, sleep and both the psychology & physiology of extended high performance. On the inaugural race to the magnetic North Pole we set out with the intent to win, but not at all costs – no injuries and still good mates! We challenged the accepted norms of polar travel creating our hugely efficient 20-hour day. We focused on discipline as our superpower with our 7-minute breaks. We were both innovative and relentless and set a new record (and I still have all my fingers and toes, and two best friends for life).

The South Pole beckons, possibly Heard Island too and in the meantime I keep my hand in with regular trips to the wilds of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Monashee Mountains and elsewhere that is cold and high.

Company Director

Manley Talks Limited was first created on the 29th March 1999 and the Compassionate Leadership Academy Limited company on the 15th September 2015. I have successfully run my own global consultancy and development company for over a quarter of a century! Cripes, makes feel quite old writing that, but it does bring with it a depth and breadth of experience drawn from not only my own experiences but from the amazing business leaders, leading thinkers, ultimate team players and experts from all over the world and in any sector you can mention. I also deeply understand the pressures of business founders, owners and Directors. I know the many pitfalls there are in recruiting, contracting, collaborating, delegating and reviewing performance. I, like all other business leaders, live or die by my last delivery, my reputation and my reliability. I know what it is to balance delivery with sales, the immediate priority with the never ending drive for future security and growth. Running a business is tough, but one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet too.


It took many years working with business leaders, thought leaders and experts in the fields of people & performance for me to formulate my ideas on compassionate leadership. The breakthrough was in the realisation that the key role of leadership is to gain commitment and that the route to that is though compassion, as defined by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The derivation of compassionate leadership “to secure the best for all” made leadership accessible, less mysterious and clearer. My book, first published in 2014 captures the creation, philosophy and the practical application of compassionate leadership in the style of a gripping handbook – inspiration and practical application. The Dalai Lama, having read my book, has commended me on my work on compassion. Notably, this was the first book to be published on the topic of compassionate leadership.


The Royal Navy was seminal in my development both as a leader and team player. It is a privilege you don’t see at the time, but realise later, that you were selected, trained & exposed to leadership on a daily basis from the age of 18 with much of my early leadership lessons still guiding me now. I volunteered to re-join the Navy for the 1st Gulf War and was able to pay back on my training for real.

With a strong sense of purpose and high levels of camaraderie, the armed forces is a deeply fulfilling place to be and a tough place to leave. Many of our armed forces personnel give so much but suffer in the process; I was lucky so I now actively support the charity Combat Stress.

Manley Hopkinson - Veteran

Business Leader

I have worked with business and community leaders from all over the world in a number of ways. As a keynote speaker, a mentor and consultant but also as an accountable member of a Board. I have long-term relationships built over many years with a number of organisations and have followed the paths of growing leaders as they progress their careers and take me with them; each time guiding leaders through a path of successful transformation, both in direction and performance. Since 2012, I have held the positions of Director of People & Performance for the Atlas Consortium, Hewlett-Packard Defence & Security UK, Ark Data Centres, Crown Hosting and Sweet Projects, being fully accountable for the advice and decisions on leadership, culture, performance and transformation; a fertile testing ground to refine the principles of compassionate leadership.