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Zara W1

Zara Whysall

Associate Professor

Nottingham Business School

Staff Group(s)
Department of Human Resource Management


Zara is an Associate Professor of Business Psychology who straddles academia and industry.  She conducts research and consultancy within public and private sector organisations, on topics including leadership development, talent management, diversity management, organisational culture change and attendance behaviour/presenteeism.  Her teaching is mainly on Executive Education programmes such as NTU's post-graduate global business programme for ECCO, the global shoe manufacturer and retailer, a programme which Zara led for several years.

She has been successful in securing and is now currently leading two 24-month Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) funded by Innovate UK. Both are focussed on supporting organisational growth and transformation through embedding new ways of working into organisational culture to promote innovation, organisational learning, inclusion and effective talent management. In addition, she is PI on an NTU IKEP-funded knowledge exchange project supporting Nottingham-based domestic violence charity Juno with developing a wellbeing policy and wellbeing management practices to support staff.  She is also co-Investigator, with Professor Thorsten Chmura, on a separate research project funded by Fujitsu UK, investigating the impact of immersive virtual reality (IMR) on employee behaviours such as collaboration and inclusion.

Zara is a member of the University Advisory Board for the NTU Health and Wellbeing Strategic Research Theme, and member of several NTU research groups, including the Centre for People, Work and Organisational Practice, the Centre for Behavioural Sciences,  the Centre for Economics, Policy and Public Management, and the Responsible and Sustainable Business Lab. She supervises a number of PhD and DBA candidates in research areas of relevance to her areas of interest and expertise.

Career overview

Zara is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, with over two decades of experience in consultancy and training roles in public and private sector organisations.

In 2022 she received NTU Vice Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Practice and was selected to participate in the 2022/23 NTU Vice-Chancellor’s Future Research Leaders Programme.

In addition to her role at NTU she is Research & Impact Director at Kiddy & Partners Ltd, a firm of Business Psychologists specialising in leadership assessment and development, and part of the Gateley Group.

Zara's previous experience includes several years as Head of Research & Product at Lane4 Management Group (now EY Lane4). Prior to that Zara was a Business Manager for Psychology at COPE Ltd, where she conducted training, research and consultancy with a wide range of clients into areas such as managing presenteeism and work-related stress, and also managing a large multi-service occupational health contract for a defence sector client. She also worked in the Horizon Scanning team at HSL, using research and tools such as scenario planning to identify and understand the implications of emerging trends for managing future work-related risks to health and wellbeing.

She has a PhD from Loughborough University, a Masters in Occupational Psychology from Nottingham University, and a BSc (First-class Hons.) in Human Psychology from Aston University.

Research areas

Zara is a strong advocate of applied research which addresses contemporary business issues, with the aim of improving individual and organisational performance. Her primary research interests include:

  • Leadership and Talent Development - applying psychological theory to understand how organisations can develop effective methods of achieving the shift in mindset, skillset and context required to meet the pace of change in modern operating environments.
  • Organisational behaviour and culture change – understanding the role of organisational culture, social norms, behaviours and practices, implicit and explicit beliefs and attitudes in promoting (or inhibiting) organisational behaviour change in relation to key organisational priorities such as diversity and inclusion, health & wellbeing, learning and innovation.
  • Work, Health & Performance – presenteeism and the reciprocal relationships between work, health and performance.

Zara's PhD focused on the application of the transtheoretical model of behaviour change to organisational change interventions to improve their effectiveness and sustainability. She retains an interest in behavioural and organisational change.

External activity

Zara is currently leading two Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.  One with Fujitsu Ltd, aimed at driving sustainable change in individual and team working practices through an enhanced organisational culture change methodology, positively impacting organisational effectiveness, resilience and agility.  The second is with Halo X-ray Technologies Ltd, co-led with operations management colleague Aquila Yeong, focusing on reshaping and upscaling operational processes, talent management practices and evolve organisational culture to support rapid growth and transformation from an organisation focused on R&D to high-reliability manufacturing and deployment.

She is also co-Investigator, with Professor Thorsten Chmura, on a separate research project funded by Fujitsu UK, investigating the impact of immersive virtual reality (IMR) on employee behaviours such as collaboration and inclusion.

In addition, she is currently leading an internally funded knowledge-exchange project (IKEP) with a Nottingham-based women's aid charity to develop staff well-being policy and management practices.

Zara is an External Examiner for the MBA programme at University of Strathclyde, an Associate Editor for the International Journal for Workplace Health Management, and a reviewer for numerous other academic journals.

Zara is Research & Impact Director for Kiddy & Partners, a firm of business psychologists specialising in leadership assessment and development. She is responsible for producing evidence-based thought leadership outputs and undertaking impact evaluation studies to help understand and enhance the impact of the firm's services on key client outcomes.

Press expertise

  • Talent management and leadership development
  • Employee motivation and retention
  • Presenteeism and management of work-related ill-health and wellbeing
  • Organisational culture