Executive Leadership Team

Richard S. Hawkes | Founder & CEO

Richard founded Growth River in the US in 2007. Today it is an international consultancy with offices and partners in the US and in Germany. Growth River specializes in leading major transformational change initiatives that impact organizational culture and business models at the same time. This work is unique because of its holistic approach that reduces complexity and creates buy-in for both executives and their teams.

He has worked domestically and internationally with global Fortune 100, mid-sized and start-up growth companies including: Allergan, Berkley Insurance, Bonnel Aluminum, Chicos, Corning, Cox Communications, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, GENEWIZ, Gentex, Global Knowledge, Hallmark International, Hope Worldwide, Instinet, Johnson & Johnson, MARS, Merck, Navigant Consulting International, Neostem, New York Genome Center, Novartis, Pearson Education, Pfizer, PFG Group, Pharmanet, Prentice Hall, Sun Microsystems, Wrigley and WLR Foods.

Richard began his career developing margins trading systems at Morgan Stanley. He subsequently became a senior member of the strategy practice with Kepner-Tregoe International, leaving to become a partner with the Strategy Partners Group LLC. In 2002, he joined Guttman Development Strategies as a Chief Strategist. Richard received a B.A. in Computer Science and German Literature from Hamilton College and an M.B.A. in Marketing and Organizational Development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has been a board member of GENEWIZ Inc. since 2007.

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Growth River, US

Robert Heinzman | Partner | Global Science Practice Leader


Robert Heinzman’s consulting expertise has been forged from an unusual career. With a start in environmental chemistry, he researched groundwater pollution in the desert Southwest. A logical, though perhaps not obvious, path led him to the Amazon and the front lines of tropical forest conservation. This work resulted in the founding of US and international organizations, a series of global forums in tropical forest management, a book (Lessons of the Rainforest, Sierra Club Books, 1991), and a key role in creating the Maya Biosphere Reserve, the largest protected area in Central America. After years of bearing witness to the conflict endemic to the agricultural frontier in the forest tropics, and the disturbingly ineffective intrigues of Washington, D.C., Robert committed to a life of rigorous spiritual practice to figure out what real solutions to global problems are. On this path, he became the publisher of the "gold standard" for rational spiritual inquiry, EnlightenNext Magazine.

Robert leads the Global Science Practice. His work with .com, .org and .edu clients advances their ability to create a future in which we all want to live. Clients include / have included: The School District of Philadelphia, Allergan Medical Devices, GENEWIZ, Onyx Specialty Papers, New York Genome Center, HOPEworldwide, and the Institute for Regional Conservation. He holds a degree in Geochemistry from the University of Colorado, and a Master’s from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Robert DeSimone | Partner | People & Organization Practice Leader 


Robert’s focus and passion is contributing whatever it takes to achieve the breakthrough his clients require.

With 20 years of senior executive experience, Robert is an Organization Development consultant, High Performance Team facilitator, and Master Executive Coach. His highly developed professional leadership skills enable him to quickly and accurately assess the current state of senior leaders, teams and organizations, and then collaborate to develop focused, pragmatic approaches to enhance effectiveness and business results.

Robert is acknowledged by those he serves as direct, straightforward, extremely focused and 'playing for real.' He listens beyond the present conversation and quickly frames the root constraints to issues. His ability to lead executives with challenging, powerful and provocative questions and processes is a signature skill. He calls this approach ‘The Uncommon Dialogue.’ Through these conversations, space is created for breakthrough shifts in mindset. Thus, new behaviors become available that give way to improved effectiveness, greater impact and authenticity. Client's value Robert’s style in holding them accountable to achieve results. His commitment to their success, linked with his business leadership experience and intuitive insights, bring a sense of excitement, possibility and sustainability to clients learning experiences.

Robert attended the US Naval Academy and Johns Hopkins University, earning a degree in Industrial Psychology and Organization and Human Development. He lives with his wife and three daughters in Suffolk County, New York.

Everett Darby | Partner | Innovation Practice Leader


Everett posts a proven 30-year track record of outstanding organizational leadership, with extensive experience in building high performance teams and mentoring individuals. Known for his negotiation and problem-solving skills, Everett has held various executive leadership roles at Monsanto, Nutrasweet and The Coca-Cola Company. Everett is a sought-after expert in the area of Innovation Culture and Process. He holds Adjunct Professorships at both the University of Georgia Terry School of Business and Georgia State University Robbins School of Business, where he teaches innovation management, entrepreneurship and strategic innovation. He is a co-creator of the Certified Professional Innovator program at GSU. He also teaches Innovation Implementation as part of the Masters in Innovation program at CEDIM in Mexico. Currently he is working closely with a team to create a music education platform to teach core state standards to students K-12. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Atlanta's Morehouse College and a M.B.A. from Washington University's Olin School of Business.

Bob Voss, PhD | Nonprofit Practice Leader

Bob Voss, PhD, is skilled at helping organizations and their leaders identify and address those critical issues that stand in the way of a high level of shared vision, purpose and results-driven performance.

He has extensive experience as a teacher, trainer, and technical writer, and has held senior operational, executive, and board-level roles in a global non-profit organization. With a proven ability to resolve diverse management challenges, he has unusual—and considerable—skills at helping leaders navigate the ‘tough people issues’ at the heart of creating the conditions for sustained success. His broad range of life skills include his training as a systems ecologist, many years working as a software trainer, consultant and co-author of several best-selling software books, and his executive and team leadership experience. Trained in whole-systems thinking, Bob earned his PhD in Insect Ecology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Bob’s other interests include music, and national and world current affairs. He enjoys spending time with his family, friends and daughter.


Growth River, Germany

Eberhard (Eb) Schmidt | Managing Partner

Eb looks back at a 25-year corporate career that includes executive positions in both Germany and the US. He has always worked for companies that were leaders in their fields, guiding either quality improvements programs, cost reduction initiatives or facilitating organizational changes.

Parallel to his corporate leadership experience Eb pursued a 20 yearlong devotion to various personal development practices that have dramatically expanded his insight and understanding of the human condition.

The combination of those two strains of development have made him the consultant who feels equally at ease dealing with challenging business issues as well as confronting personal issues in guiding our customers to sustainable success.

Steffen Karneth | Managing Partner


As an international consultant for the last 20 years, Steffen is an expert in both business and leadership development. He brings a wealth of sales and marketing experience from various industries. Steffen gained his broad knowledge working for IBM and Cisco, and he played an influential role at WebEx, launching IP-based communication technologies throughout Europe and the Middle East. With a focus on the Enterprise market Steffen led large teams of consultants and partners in complex transformational projects.

Prior to his professional career, Steffen was an athlete and trainer in East Germany. There he developed his unique focus and strength to thrive in challenging and competitive environments. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, he exercised his newly gained freedom to travel and explore different cultures around the world. Since he founded Growth River Germany in 2011 together with his long-term buddy Eb Schmidt his personal and professional experiences and knowledge come together in a greatly satisfying way for himself and all his customers.

Marina Alt-Nedvidek | Change Leadership Expert


Marina's main interest is in people, their ways of interacting with each other and their core internal drive. Throughout the 30 years of her career, Marina had the opportunity to apply her knowledge and talents to various leading roles in international companies of different sizes. Her tasks ranged from Product development, project management, business development to heading her own video production company. She was blessed with the opportunity to live and work in different countries like Switzerland and Canada and to experience the power of cultural character. These experiences enable her to understand and align different points of views. She finds her work with Growth River Germany emotionally very rewarding.

Marina perceives an aligned team of executives as an orchestra or a band, where every member plays his own instrument, contributes with his own unique melody to create a wonderful, harmonious whole that is much more than the sum of its parts.

Klaus Cremer | Change Leadership Expert


In his role as director of supply chain and operations in the automotive and electrical industries, Klaus worked worldwide. But his "home base" was never further than 20 miles from the Cologne Cathedral. Yes, Klaus is a self-confessed Rhinelander with all peculiarities. According to a song of the Cologne dialect band Brings "the heart of a Cologne boy is placed on his tongue". In a friendly translation, this means: "Cologne knows the value of spontaneous, clear communication!" It sounds trivial, but Klaus appreciates this sentence since he introduced worldwide efficiency processes with his teams. Correctly applied communication is the prerequisite for the cornerstones of motivation, clarity, common understanding and reliability. Without these cornerstones a process cannot be permanently stable and efficient.

This is not different to music, which - as a Rhinelander - naturally is in his blood. For half of his life Klaus play keyboard in bands. There he is rhythmic. Also here the same cornerstones are needed. Otherwise no technique, no practice, no arrengements help. It's just not grooving!

30 years of experience and the knowledge, that change always means development are his pacemakers when Klaus supports our customers in finding their "company rhythm".