About laura carmichael


Facilitator Laura Carmichael designs and delivers learning and development programs grounded in growth mindset, presence and authentic leadership. She lives in Amsterdam where she is on the faculty at THNK, School for Creative Leadership and Innovation, and runs a number of her own forward looking programs under the Serious-Play.net banner.

 photo by  Michel Marang

photo by Michel Marang


Bringing the ears and eyes of an artist into a practical business context

Fifteen years ago Laura learned to decode crucial elements of creativity and collaboration in the performing arts and translate them to useful tools for business people and organizations.

She has worked regularly at the Royal Tropical Institute Intercultural Management Training Center and was a Senior Trainer at Executive Performance Training in Amsterdam for many years.

Selected Previous Clients


Some clients prefer not to be listed publicly. For personal references from specific clients, please contact me.


Noted for her incisive perception and lust for life, Laura has a knack for bridging information between disciplines, and adapting her vast knowledge to the individual student or client.

What are the stories yet untold?

Deep listening. In my work as a musician and in coaching and training, I'm listening for the way things are said and what's not said, as much as what is said.

My main professional interest is in how stories and voices outside the mainstream can impact innovation, technology, and leadership to contribute to the greater good. What is real inclusive teamwork? How can people tell their own stores and find their own solutions? How can you create influence?

In particular, I believe the contributions of women remain a huge untapped resource. When women create solidarity with each other, we can be an unstoppable force for good and can create real change. Going it alone doesn't work. The face of progressive leadership understand this, and wants to serve the brilliance of others. Then we get an engaged, creative, joyful place to work.

Looking to see the familiar in new ways

As a clarinetist Laura has performed with major orchestras including the San Francisco Symphony, and played at major festivals including the Berio Festival in the Berlin Philharmonie. The new and experimental always exerted a gravitational pull on Laura, and she has collaborated with many composers in the creation of new works and in numerous cross-disciplinary projects. She specialized in performing contemporary music with text and theatrical settings, and her experience with vocal work became a central part of her being a voice coach for executive clients. For years she investigated audience interaction and staged concerts in unconventional ways, rigorously looking to see the familiar in new ways.

Laura has lectured in music and collaboration at numerous universities including Harvard, Stanford, University of California at Berkeley, Davis and San Diego, Rice University, University of Chicago, and recently at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, among others.


Building new connections

Bridging technology and the human, Laura has added to her toolkit by learning to operate in Agile, Lean and Teal group systems. She's fascinated about how AI may be used to counter bias. Building on her obsession with communication, she looks at how to foster service-minded, purpose-driven leadership in the digital age.


An American who has been living in Amsterdam for most of her adult life, Laura grew up in an experimental Montessori primary school then creativity based education programs for gifted students in Texas public schools, then finished high school in Michigan at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy, followed by music school at the University of Michigan. She studied anthropology and German literature, gaining an academic rigor alongside creative expression of music performance.

Thereafter she lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she engaged in numerous music projects, ran her own ensemble, taught music to inner-city youth and young children while witnessing the dot-com boom. In 2003 she completed a masters study at the Amsterdam Conservatory.

Since her late teens, Laura has seriously engaged in studying body-mind training systems, not only to support her professional performance work, but also in large part to help her recover from a major car accident in which her spine was broken. Since that time she has studied Alexander Technique, taiji, meditation, mindfulness and peak performance techniques.

Additional interests include neuroscience, whole systems design, and human rights, in particular girls' education and the impact of women's economic equality on global warming and peace.