Meet our team:

Ananth Gopal

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Ananth Gopal

Carlton, Victoria (Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country)

Director, Polykala 

Ananth is a facilitator, coach, geographer, and actor (theatre) with over 10 years’ experience working with organisations and communities across the government, not-for-profit and higher education sectors in Australia.

Ananth is a graduate of Harvard’s Art and Practice of Leadership Development program and a committee member of the Australian Adaptive Leadership Institute. Ananth combines his experience and expertise in academia and the performing arts in service of developing leadership capacity conceptually and practically. His background as a performing artist and academic enables him to connect idea with feelings and combine them to help people connect with each other. His work across a range of sectors is united by a common thread of emphasising the role systemic and relational thinking and practice. He has deep expertise in applying the adaptive leadership approach to a range of sectors and contexts.

He founded Polykala in 2012 to develop adaptive leadership capacity at all levels of society with a focus on tackling the complex intersection of social, cultural, and environmental challenges. Recent highlights of Ananth’s work at Polykala include designing and delivering the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s first integrated adaptive leadership and diversity and inclusion program for executive leaders across the agency (delivered with People Measures). He is the Lead Facilitator for the Australia Council for the Arts’ ‘Future Leaders’ program, core faculty for the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation’s Drought Resilience Leaders Program helping 20 regional communities’ fashion adaptive responses to climate change and drought. Ananth has designed and delivered whole-of-business adaptive leadership and organisational change programs for Allens Linklaters, City of Melbourne, University of Sydney, the Australian Museum, Plan International, Oxfam International, among others.

Ananth is equally home working with executives at government agencies as he is with artists from newly arrived communities. His approach is humane, curious, and tactfully irreverent. He uses an extensive and eclectic repertoire of ideas, group processes, and frameworks to strengthen systemic and self-awareness to help clients interrogate their assumptions, generate new ways of thinking, and mobilise action that gets the best outcomes for diverse stakeholders. Clients who work with Ananth experience a deeply present, attentive, and creative facilitator who models candour, courage and flexibility. The group environments Ananth creates are supportive and robust; conceptually sophisticated without losing sight of the need to produce tangible solutions that move the dial on complex challenges.

Ananth’s PhD thesis examined how refugee and migrant communities practise socio-ecological adaptation and, importantly, how policy makers might conceptualise and leverage adaptive capacities within diverse communities. He was the host of ABC’s Australia Network’s Asia-Pacific focussed TV show, ‘Food Bowl’ (2014), helping share stories of community economic and environmental transformation via sustainable agriculture. He is inherently ‘inter-disciplinary’ believing the best ideas and outcomes are the result of bringing seemingly disparate schools of thought and practice into productive conversation.

His eclectic interests, expertise and experience is driven by a passion for engaging with and supporting diverse sectors, communities, and organisations to adapt to accelerating rates of cultural and environmental change. His mission is to facilitate conversations across divides and support people to take meaningful action.

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