About laura carmichael


For 15 years, Laura has designed and delivered learning and development programs grounded in growth mindset, presence and authentic leadership. She lives in Amsterdam where she is a consultant to forward looking businesses who want to innovate. 

photo by  Michel Marang

photo by Michel Marang


Bringing the ears and eyes of an artist into a practical business context to create leadership with vision, strategy and purpose.

With a background as a professional musician and many years working as a corporate trainer for leaders at global companies, I bring together unusual approaches to learning and development that enhance design thinking, including tools to increase sensory perception, presence, learning mindset, and team communication. For me, leadership means inspiring direction connected to strategy, staying focused on what matters and open at the same time, and developing others' talents and strengths. My experience has developed my intercultural competencies. I'm a big believer in cognitive diversity, and working for the greater good.

Besides running my own consultancy and working with private clients, I've worked regularly at THNK School for Creative Leadership & Innovation, the Royal Tropical Institute Intercultural Management Training Center and I 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.”

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 stories 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.


Building new connections

Working with people in the technology sector, I’ve become fascinated with bridging technology and the human. I’ve added Agile, Lean and Teal group systems to my toolkit. In particular, I’m fascinated with how communication awareness and presence positively impacts Agile.  A kick-off, stand-up and retrospective can include review of communication among the team as well as the content of getting the work done - the how and the what. I’m also fascinated with how AI may be used to counter bias, positively impact performance management, and use data to bust myths about leadership and help reinforce behavioral change. Building on my obsession with communication, I looks at how to foster service-minded, purpose-driven leadership in the digital age.


Music - deep listening & looking to see the familiar in new ways

As a clarinetist I’ve 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 me, and I’ve collaborated with many composers in the creation of new works and in numerous cross-disciplinary projects. I specialized in performing contemporary music with text and theatrical settings, and my experience with vocal work became a central part of being a voice coach for executive clients. For years I investigated audience interaction and staged concerts in unconventional ways, rigorously looking to see the familiar in new ways. One of the paradoxes musicians must master is the need to refine material without it becoming mechanical. How to stay awake? … a life-long pursuit.

I love doing research. I’ve 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.

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.

Growing up

An American who has been living in Amsterdam for most of my adult life, and has worked all over the world, intercultural competencies have imprinted on me. I had a father who could talk to anyone anywhere. With parents who came from working-class families, farmers and welders, farmers and welders, I can talk about barbed wire and clearing cedar, as well as esoteric experimental music. Practical application is something in my bones.

I grew up with a mother who flew airplanes, played piano, and sang cat food jungles in the supermarket, as well as running a business. My parents valued education above all else. They drove my sister and I across town 25 minutes to an experimental Montessori primary school which I attended until age 10. Then I benefitted from 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. I studied anthropology and German literature, gaining an academic rigor alongside creative expression of music performance.

Thereafter I 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 my late teens, the wisdom of the body has been something tangible to me. I’ve seriously engaged in studying body-mind training systems like Alexander Technique, taiji, meditation, mindfulness and peak performance techniques. This was not only to support my professional performance work, but also in large part to help me recover from a major car accident in which my spine was broken at age 14. The fact that I can walk is a miracle, and I’m never short on gratitude for that.

No matter what area I’m working in, I’m always looking forward, and I have a conviction that change is always possible.