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Nicolai Tillisch

Nicolai Tillisch

Copenhagen, Denmark

Nicolai coaches ambitious leaders of international businesses. He works across Europe, North America, and Asia and has done so in most major industries. His client engagements range from coaching executives and facilitating journeys with management teams to supporting large-scale organizational transformations. Nicolai engages closely with his clients to understand each unique context and its possibilities.

His best-selling book Return on Ambition: A Radical Approach to Your Achievement, Growth, and Well-Being (Fast Company Press, 2021), co-authored with Nicolai Chen Nielsen, is the winner of the Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal and a finalist for the getAbstract International Book Award. His previous book, Effective Business in the Gulf: Mastering Leadership for Greater Success (Motivate Publishing, second edition, 2015), is also a bestseller and has been translated in Korean.

Nicolai’s career has spun the traditional left-brain and right-brain spheres. Nicolai holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Copenhagen and started as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company. He left for executive roles in corporate ventures. That included serving as the managing director of a branding agency within the advertising network DDB Worldwide, being the program director at Hutchison’s mobile operator 3, and managing over 500 consultants across the globe for Nokia Siemens Networks, the telecom vendor.

Nicolai first trained as a coach in 1997, and this has been his profession since 2011. He has multiple accreditations from the International Coaching Federation, including Growth Edge Coaching and Leadership Circle Profile, and he has been a faculty member for both. Between 2015 and 2019, Nicolai did his coaching engagements through Leadership Circle. He had an exclusive license for the Middle East and North Africa and built its business there. Nicolai joined Cultivating Leadership in January 2019. Over the last few years, he has worked on the side as a co-founder of Step Up Your Day, a venture that offers a software platform to increase the impact of coaching.

Beyond deeply appreciating the immense privilege of working with his extraordinary colleagues and clients, Nicolai’s heart is first of all with his family. They enjoy many friends, the beauty of nature, and travel to new and different places. They have recently moved to his native Copenhagen in Denmark, after living in London and Dubai since the mid-00s.





I would never like to be without my conversations with Nicolai. He has helped me to understand new dimensions in myself. It's great that he has such a good sense of my world. His wise questions help me to step up both as a leader and a person.

The founder and CEO of a fast-growing, international tech venture