Staff profile

Dr Fred Paterson

Associate Professor

Lecturer presenting




College of Business, Law and Social Sciences


Innovation and Research

Research centre

Centre for Business Improvement




Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



My main interests are sustainable business, system leadership and how people learn to become leaders. I lead the Low Carbon Business Network which supports pro-environmental SMEs across the East Midlands and the ERDF funded DE-Carbonise business project that is working with SMEs to decarbonise their operations and develop sustainable supply chains. My advisory roles include: membership of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership Energy Strategy Group (2018-) and the D2N2 LEP Low Carbon Advisory Committee (2014-2018).

My research activity is focused upon enterprise support for pro-environmental business, the skills and qualities required to lead the transition to a sustainable future and how businesses and other organisations collaborate to accelerate the shift towards a low carbon economy.

I am also interested in how people learn to become high performing professionals and leaders. I have worked with a host of talented leaders in public and private sector organisations and believe passionately in the link between our motivation and ability to learn and the potential we exhibit as leaders. 

My research explores how people lead beyond the remit of their own organisation to fulfil common purposes; in public services, in supply chains and in particular, with people working collaboratively to create a sustainable future and low carbon economy.

Teaching responsibilities

Professional interests

I lead on Sustainable Business and the Green Economy for the Business Improvement Research Cluster. This involves coordinating the interests of various staff and research students through an active research forum.

I am Project Lead for the DE-Carbonise business project which is an ERDF funded project that works with SMEs to decarbonise their operations and develop sustainable supply chains. Alongside this, I lead the Low Carbon Business Network that supports the interests of all pro-environmental SMEs across the region - see for more details. Leading this Network involves  coordinating with a variety of regional bodies that include local Councils, Chamber of Commerce, Local Enterprise Partnership, skills providers and non-governmental organisations.

My specialist interests:

Research interests

I lead a host of research activities associated with the Low Carbon Business Network which include mapping the growth of the Low Carbon Sector in the D2N2 region, developing the evidence for the impact of the Project as part of the University's preparation for the next Research Excellence Framework submission as well as studying the features of enterprise support for pro-environmental business.

My personal research focuses upon the role that leadership plays in supporting sustainable transformation.

Writers and researchers that have influenced my understanding and practice of leadership and learning include: Christiana Figueres, Sara Parkin, Ronald Heifetz, Edgar Schein, Margaret Wheatley, Peter Senge, Deborah Ancona, Tom Peters, Warren Bennis, Nancy Mohr and John Whitmore.

I have extensive experience in qualitative and collaborative research methods – and the use of software (such as Nvivo) as an aid to qualitative data analysis.

Membership of professional bodies


Recent conferences

Experience in industry

For most of my career I have worked in public sector organisations: Schools, Local Authorities, Universities and the National College for School Leadership where I held senior roles in research and leadership development for ten years in the schools and Children’s Services sectors as well as in the private sector.

Before my role at University of Derby, I was Head of Knowledge and Learning and a senior researcher at the National College for School Leadership between 2001-2011; where I was a Lead Coach and co-authored 'Leading Coaching in Schools'. I was also an Associate of the Virtual Staff College (who provide leadership development nationally for Directors of Children's Services) where I co-facilitated the national Mentor Induction for Directors of Children's Services Programme and provided coaching and action learning training for senior managers in several local authorities in the East of England.

I also run my own consultancy (Accelerate the Shift) which is a social enterprise dedicated to creating a healthier, fairer and more sustainable future through collaborative learning experiences.

Recent publications

solar panels and wind turbines in a green space

Dr Fred Paterson, Associate Professor of Sustainable Business and Clean Growth at the University of Derby, examines the results of a six-year study into pro-environmental business and clean growth trends undertaken by the University’s Sustainable Business Research group in collaboration with the East Midlands Chamber.

Derby stadium and trees and buildings

Dr Fred Paterson, the University of Derby's project lead for the Low Carbon Business Network, looks at how meeting the Clean Growth challenge will help us take advantage of global changes to improve people's lives and the country's productivity.

Dr Fred Paterson, the University of Derby's Project Lead for the Low Carbon Business Network, looks at how the city is setting achievable, sustainable goals.