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Robert Ellis

Robert Ellis

Chief of Organizational Development & Growth

Director, Center of Strategic Leadership 



Dr. Ellis grew up in poverty in a dysfunctional family living in the poorest neighborhood of the city where he was raised. His mother encouraged him to earn good grades in school and to win a scholarship to attend college so he could have a better life. He followed her advice, earning a scholarship, entering college, and ultimately leaving poverty behind. As the first in his family to attend college, he thrived in the undergraduate environment and not only graduated with a bachelor’s in business administration, but also learned about cultural norms, the business world, how to interact constructively with people, and how to succeed through collaboration with many mentors. He went on to earn an MBA and a PhD in Organization Development. These educational experiences were formative, leading to many achievements and opportunities for personal and professional growth.


The business realm brought challenges that he happily accepted, beginning with banking, then mortgage banking, which led to his involvement in creating mortgage-backed securities (MBSs). As a result of his success creating MBSs, Wall Street courted him, and he took a position with Goldman Sachs, helping them launch an MBSs operation. The job also allowed him to gain insights into the depth and breadth of capital markets while making valuable connections with others in areas of financial interest. He left Goldman Sachs to start his own consultancy, and one of his first client assignments was helping the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC) with several problem savings and loans (S&Ls). The FSLIC placed him within an S&L that was bankrupt. Not only did he stabilized the S&L, but he increased mortgage lending, which led to its profitability, and he found an investment bank that was willing to recapitalize the S&L. The FSLIC then asked him to consider consolidating 13 other smaller S&Ls into the one he had saved—a strategy that had never been implemented before. He completed this consolidation in 13 months, then recapitalized the entire organization into a still-viable mortgage-lending bank.


After these successes, Dr. Ellis took over two additional financial institutions, recapitalized them, and made them profitable. He expanded his focus to include problem businesses and successfully turned around many business organizations from loss to profitability. He also began consulting with local cities, counties, state, and then national organizations such as the Department of Defense, national banks, and public companies that needed help resolving problems, such as capital issues, increasing operating efficiency, developing and installing new ideas, expanding the scope of the business, training, and improving workforce development. After conducting an economic feasibility study to evaluate an opportunity the Augusta State University was exploring, Dr. Ellis was invited to teach management and marketing courses at the institution. The feasibility study also led to a collaboration with the Department of Defense (DoD) at Fort Gordon—an experience that expanded his professional focus to include addressing problems within military organizations. His first task was to save $2.5 million in the budget of one of the largest organizations at Fort Gordon. He achieved this goal, allowing the organization to complete its annual mission—and leading to many other contracts for his services with the DoD. These real-world experiences informed and improved his teaching, while his teaching experiences and research made his consulting more effective, creating mutual benefits for his clients and for him. His vision for the future is to continue working as a scholar-practitioner serving both the public and private business world as well as continuing his interest in the scholarly world, teaching, researching, and writing articles and books.

Areas of Expertise

  • Project Management
  • Marketing
  • Organization Development and Problem-solving
  • Change Leadership
  • Relationship building
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Innovation
  • Financial institutional development
  • Strategic planning
  • Higher Education


  • D. The University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
  • Ed. Augusta State University, Augusta, GA, USA
  • MBA The University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
  • BBA The University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
  • Georgia Banking School, Athens GA, USA

Key Publications & Presentations

  • Robert J. Ellis, Running for Congress, a Fool’s Errand, completed 2005. An expose’ of corruption in the Congressional election process.
  • Cole Kincade (pseudonym), Embedded in Afghanistan. Amazon Books: Self-Published, April 2010. Pseudonyms required by the Department of Defense for their approval to publish. One year in the life of a young American officer in Afghanistan. A riveting emotional journey of my son’s first year in Afghanistan.
  • Self-Managed Teams: An Instructional Primer. A textbook work-in-progress teaching about Self-Managed Teams.
  • Self-Managed Teams: A More Humanistic Organizational Structure with Benefits. Spring/Summer 22 EDITION 4 ISODC Skyline Magazine, pp. 16-20.
  • A Chronology of the Evolution of Self-Managed Teams: A Humanistic Organizational Structure. Spring/Summer ISODC Quarterly Journal. Article 6.

Global Engagements

  • Professor, Management and Marketing in various US universities
  • Department of Defense, working to resolve problematic issues in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic area military bases and other locations
  • Professor at various educational institutions in Japan

Honors & Awards

  • Coined by Army Brigadier General Darrel Porr and a few others during my work with the Department of Defense for exceptional work or achievements
  • Early creator and seller of Mortgage-Backed Securities which secured me a job on Wall Street, Goldman Sachs
  • Awarded a new Federal Savings Bank charter in recognition of previous bank accomplishments
  • Graduated Ph.D. Suma Cum Laude, May 2023
  • Recipient, Graduate Assistantship Award, University of Georgia, 2019
  • President of the University of Georgia LLOD GSN Graduate Students Association. 2019
  • Gold Key International Honor Society
  • Phi Delta Kappa