Colin Ellis is a man of well-cut suits, pocket squares, Old World tastes and future-forward business savvy. He holds the door open for everyone, writes with a fountain pen, listens to music on a record player and lives and breathes project leadership and transformation.

A project leader in the UK, New Zealand and Australia for more than 20 years, Colin has a signature style that blends old-school etiquette with a laser focus on the future of business, specifically the people leading digital transformations and evolutions.

Colin will be joining us at the Digital PM Summit in Memphis this September 4–6 to deliver the keynote, “Digital Transformation Starts With You.” Looking forward to the Summit, we caught up with Colin for a glimpse into the human side of digital transformation and the behaviors needed to do it successfully.

Investing in Leadership & Culture

Each year, businesses spend between a half billion dollars and a billion dollars on project management development. Yet, only about 29% of projects are considered successful, according to The Standish Group. Why?

Colin attributes this to most of that money going to cultivate methods, structure and process, which, while all are important, leaves little or no money for developing abilities in leadership (who we are as leaders) and culture (the types of environments we create).

“Any business transformation or evolution starts with the people leading it. It starts with what they know about themselves, how they behave and the things they do to build an environment where great work can happen.” — Colin D. Ellis

So, how do we develop leadership and culture abilities to lead transformations?

The Transformation Triangle

Whenever Colin would start a new job, he would do three things:

  1. Reflect on his previous job, how he had grown and what knowledge and skills he had acquired

  2. Review any feedback on behaviors and think about the times he wasn’t being the best version of himself

  3. Look at the things he had tried in building teams, writing down what had or hadn't worked and why

…Then, he would buy a new suit.

The suit became a symbol of a new start in his life, and a reminder to continually show up as the best version of himself, to put all of his focus and energy into creating great work and teams. The three-step exercise leading up to the suit purchase was an exploration in the Transformation Triangle, a trifecta of:

  1. Who You Are

  2. How You Behave

  3. What You Build


As Colin says, “Organizations that are flourishing have leaders who understand who they are, how they behave and what they need to build to attain continual cultural evolution and, ultimately, success in their sector. They work hard for their new suits and look great in them.”

Ready to invest in your leadership and culture abilities as a project manager? Join us at the Digital PM Summit.