In nearly 5 years at CEDR I’ve often found it difficult to explain to people what I do and what CEDR does.  I’ve held several different roles during my time here, and what I tell people usually changes depending on what part of the business I’m working with most closely at any one time.

In the last few weeks I’ve changed focus once more to head up a new unit coordinating CEDR’s global business development, client relations and marketing activities. This is a role that deals with the whole business, and as a result, I’ve been looking at the organisation as a whole more closely than ever.

In doing so, I think I may have stumbled across an answer.  Now in its 22nd year, the modern CEDR is very much a professional services consultancy from which clients acquire expertise in a range of commercial problem solving disciplines. In the last few weeks, from offices in London, Hong Kong and Dublin, our people managed disputes ranging from requests for an apology, a replacement urn, vouchers towards a holiday, to multi-million pound construction, insurance and financial services projects and multi-party facilitations and investigations.  In 2012 alone our people facilitated the resolution of more than 6,000 disputes worldwide with a combined value well in excess of $1bn. Independent interventions including conciliation, mediation, facilitation, evaluation, investigation, adjudication, arbitration, coaching, independent chairing, consumer redress, independent complaints reviews or commercial conflicts - our people do it all.

At the same time our people have been, and are still, working with international institutions like the IMF, World Bank, UNHCR and EBRD, and assisting with the development of justice systems in Egypt, Pakistan, Qatar, Bangladesh and Lebanon, among others. In another exciting development, we have learned from practice and have developed a range of skills based programmes tailored for individuals and companies who are regularly engaged in a variety of different types of negotiation.  Nestlé, UK Power Networks, Allen & Overy and Barclays are just a few clients who have sent mid to senior level executives on our advanced negotiation programmes – each participant benefitting from one-to-one coaching and group learning, whilst having the opportunity to reflect on practice in order to become more proficient negotiators for their businesses.  In May alone our people will be delivering negotiation training programmes in the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, Greece and The Netherlands.

We’ve also hosted events for corporate counsel from global players like GlaxoSmithKline, Goldman Sachs and Motorola, supported by members of CEDR Chambers – our best practice and innovation partners – whilst our training faculty have been delivering mediator skills and conflict management training to executives from more than 60 national and global businesses in the UK, the Middle East, North America, Europe and Africa.

Add to that the activities of the CEDR Foundation, leading a ground-breaking inquiry on inquiries, featured on the BBC, along with other innovation and research in the area of conflict management. Times are changing, and our people are at the forefront of meeting the challenges faced by businesses in the private, public and third sectors.

On a personal level, we were delighted to announce the award of an honorary QC to our Deputy Chief Executive Eileen Carroll, the first such honour to be awarded for contribution to commercial mediation.  This honour comes less than two years after our Chief Executive, Dr Karl Mackie, became the first person to be honoured by the Queen with a CBE for services to mediation.

So, what is CEDR? It is a people business.  Our people provide solutions, skills, innovation and good old fashioned common sense  all over the world.  Gone are the days when CEDR was simply the place to go to book a place on a mediator skills training programme, or help you to choose a mediator for a 9-5 mediation.  Yes, we still do both, hopefully as well as anyone else, but we do so much more, and there is so much more still to come.

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by Gregory Hunt

Founder of Gregory Hunt Mediation providing Ombudsman Services and Commercial Mediation.