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Saj-nicole Joni, Ph.D. is a gifted business strategist and confidential CEO advisor, speaker, and author who works with top leaders and boards to solve their most high stakes challenges. Her most recent book Get Big Things Done co-authored with Erica Dhawan takes a pioneer dive into "connectional intelligence."

Saj-nicole is a renown authority on innovation, productive conflict, authentic leadership, and strategy. As the first woman faculty member in MIT's applied mathematics department, she has firsthand experience in these areas. Though her studies and research in combinatorics contributed to the theoretical foundations of computation, she had to gracefully and skillfully bridge the gender gap in a male-dominated field on a daily basis. She later went on to be Chairman of the newly formed Computer Sciences Department at Wellesly College in the 1980s.

Saj-nicole's corporate experience comes from her time as an executive, building the commercial side of Microsoft. In 1998, she established Cambridge International Group to help the world's high profile executives raise their game by giving them an outside opinion and worthy sparring partner. For nearly two decades now she has advised global CEOs and Fortune 500 executives. Aside from her other best-selling books, The Right Fight and The Third Opinion, her thoughts and research can frequently be found in Forbes.

Full Profile

Saj-nicole is CEO of Cambridge International Group, Ltd, where she brings over 25 years of executive and board of director experience combining her expertise as strategist, professor and teacher, Ph.D. in Mathematics, and performing artist.

Saj-nicole served as a senior executive at CSC Index and Microsoft, where she distinguished herself in global strategy, finance and organizational leadership. This broad experience, combined with her deep intellect makes her an unparalleled thinking partner for an elite group of top leaders. Her insights and provocative questions help them recalibrate their personal leadership and business strategies, clearly understand marketplace influences, recognize opportunities of far-reaching impact, and improve the likelihood they will make winning strategic decisions.

A sought-after speaker and media commentator: Saj-nicole speaks regularly to executive audiences worldwide, challenging them to extend their thinking beyond their comfort zones and to stretch their understanding of what is possible.

Saj-nicole is also the highly regarded author of Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional Intelligence (Palgrave, Feb. 2015), The Right Fight (Harper Business, Feb. 2010), and The Third Option (Portfolio Hardcover, Mar. 2004) and more.

She has served on the faculties of MIT, Carnegie-Mellon, and Wellesley College, and as Fellow at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. Saj-nicole holds a PhD in Mathematics from U.C. San Diego, is an accomplished pianist, avid gardener, and (retired) black belt in Aikido.


Saj-nicole Joni Speaker Videos Back to top

Saj-nicole Joni, Business Strategist: Keynote


Saj-nicole Joni explores where ideas come from in this personal and mind stimulating talk. Ideas can have multiple sources, she points out, but even more significant is the underlying layer of how these sources connect to one another.

"No one, no matter how good they are, is as good thinking alone as they are partnered with someone as good or better than they are - especially and including someone who's different," she comments. Saj-nicole uses surprisingly true life stories, such as the little known team effort it took for one man to break the four minute mile, to pinpoint that innovation stems from the intersection of connectivity and productive conflict.

Saj-nicole Joni, Business Strategist: Speaking Reel


Saj-nicole Joni, Business Strategist: Keynote



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


Saj-nicole Joni speaks regularly to executive audiences worldwide, challenging them to extend their thinking beyond their comfort zones and to stretch their understanding of what is possible. She applies her unique perspective and insight to help executive audiences recognize how converging modern forces are creating enormous opportunities, and how this changes the competitive landscape. Showcasing the indisputable value of bringing in an outside opinion, Saj-nicole helps leaders understand what they must do today to create long-term winning and sustainable results.

    Get Big Things Done: How Successful Leaders Harness the Power of Connectional Intelligence to Get Big Things Done
    In her latest keynote, Saj-nicole challenges audiences to understand what it really takes today to get the big and important things done. She clearly defines our new hyper-connected world and how this creates unprecedented opportunity across sector and industry. Audiences walk away inspired and equipped to ask new questions of themselves and their teams and a concrete understanding of what it actually requires of leaders to realize impactful, sustainable and productive paths forward. 

    Creating Strategies That Matter
    Leaders will be tested as never before in the months ahead. Saj-nicole argues in this talk, and success will demand the full engagement of a leader's head, guts, and heart. What is the role of strategic thinking in a world upside down? How do companies go forward in such uncertainty, and what are the opportunities that times of flux present?

    The 3 Hard Truths of Leadership
    Have you ever lost perspective on a critical issue? Raised tensions within your team in order to get something done? Manipulated others when the whole truth about a situation can’t be shared? Using thought-provoking case studies about these three dilemmas, Saj-nicole prepares the audience to rise to their best by taking them on a dynamic journey to the intersection of leadership and strategy that is at the heart of 21st century success.

    Authentic Leadership
    Leadership of multinational organizations demands more from executives than ever before. The issues are more complex, more numerous, and more urgent. How can you retain your humanity, lead with integrity, and be fully present for your people when the stakes are so much higher than they have ever been? In this talk, Saj-nicole explores with the audience the dilemmas of leadership and how to work through them authentically.

    The Third Opinion
    The subject of Saj-nicole's first book, The Third Opinion: How Successful Leaders Use Outside Insight to Create Superior Results, this talk looks at how leaders of all levels develop their network of advice and counsel - in order to challenge and sustain their life-long leadership potential. Developing wider perspective, seeking unfettered exploration and unvarnished truth is essential when leadership stakes are high. Saj-nicole shows how leaders through history have sought "third opinions" from outside counselors, balancing the need for inside knowledge with outside perspective. She helps audiences think about how to systematically create their own strategic networks, and how to enable those they mentor to do the same.

    What It Takes to Win: The Right Fight
    Organizational alignment isn’t enough to drive success. In fact the dirty secret of leadership is that “productive dissent” is essential. In this groundbreaking keynote, Saj-nicole shares her practical approach to orchestrating then harnessing “the right fights” that unleash innovation, risk management, and leadership potential in any organization. It all begins with the critical question, “Are we fighting about the right things?”



Saj-nicole Joni Speaker Testimonials Back to top

"Saj-nicole is a foremost global thought leader who combines vision and strategy with a sensible practice of leadership. Her speaking passionately challenges and inspires leaders to explore how to lead, learn, and labor to both create results and leave a lasting legacy."
- Samuel M. Lam, President and Managing Partner, Linkage Asia

"Saj-nicole has the rare gift to both inspire audiences to see beyond today to what is possible, and equip them with a roadmap so they can make it happen."
- Anka Wittenberg, Senior Vice President, SAP

“Saj-nicole’s insightful dialogue with audiences is simply tremendous.”
- KAY SEGAL EVP, CSP Information Group




* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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"Saj-nicole is a foremost global thought leader who combines vision and strategy with a sensible practice of leadership. Her speaking passionately challenges and inspires leaders to explore how to lead, learn, and labor to both create results and leave a lasting legacy."
- Samuel M. Lam, President and Managing Partner, Linkage Asia

"Saj-nicole has the rare gift to both inspire audiences to see beyond today to what is possible, and equip them with a roadmap so they can make it happen."
- Anka Wittenberg, Senior Vice President, SAP

“Saj-nicole’s insightful dialogue with audiences is simply tremendous.”
- KAY SEGAL EVP, CSP Information Group


Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional Intelligence

CONNECTIONAL INTELLIGENCE UNLOCKS THE 21ST CENTURY SECRET TO GETTING “BIG THINGS DONE,” REGARDLESS OF WHO YOU ARE, WHERE YOU LIVE, YOUR EDUCATION, OR WHAT YOU DO.

Success and leadership are typically associated with smarts, passion and luck. The facts reveal that today, that’s not enough. Get Big Things Done argues that, the game changer in our hyper-connected world is Connectional Intelligence (CxQ). Virtually anyone can maximize his or her potential and drive breakthrough performance by developing their connectional intelligence.


The Right Fight
The Right Fight, the new management guide from noted business strategists Saj-nicole Joni and Damon Beyer, turns management thinking on its head and shows why, in the fast-moving, hyper-competitive marketplaces of the 21st century, leaders need to both foster alignment and orchestrate thoughtful controversy in their organizations to get the best out of them. The authors’ groundbreaking research—including examples as diverse as Unilever, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Dell, the Clinton Administration, and the Houston Independent School System—shows that happy workers can become bored or complacent and thus less productive than workers who are subjected to a little properly managed tension. Readers of Good to Great and Winning, as well as the Harvard Business Review and Strategy + Business, will find much to ponder in The Right Fight.


The Third Opinion

The subject of Saj-nicole’s first book, The Third Opinion: How Successful Leaders Use Outside Insight to Create Superior Results, this talk looks at how leaders at all levels develop their network of advice and counsel — in order to challenge and sustain their life-long leadership potential. Developing wide perspective, seeking unfettered exploration and unvarnished truth is essential when the leadership stakes are high. Saj-nicole shows how leaders through history have sought ‘third opinions’ from outside counselors, balancing the need for inside knowledge with outside perspective. She helps audiences think about how to systematically create their own strategic insight networks, and how to enable those they mentor to do the same.

    Get Big Things Done: How Successful Leaders Harness the Power of Connectional Intelligence to Get Big Things Done
    In her latest keynote, Saj-nicole challenges audiences to understand what it really takes today to get the big and important things done. She clearly defines our new hyper-connected world and how this creates unprecedented opportunity across sector and industry. Audiences walk away inspired and equipped to ask new questions of themselves and their teams and a concrete understanding of what it actually requires of leaders to realize impactful, sustainable and productive paths forward. 

    Creating Strategies That Matter
    Leaders will be tested as never before in the months ahead. Saj-nicole argues in this talk, and success will demand the full engagement of a leader's head, guts, and heart. What is the role of strategic thinking in a world upside down? How do companies go forward in such uncertainty, and what are the opportunities that times of flux present?

    The 3 Hard Truths of Leadership
    Have you ever lost perspective on a critical issue? Raised tensions within your team in order to get something done? Manipulated others when the whole truth about a situation can’t be shared? Using thought-provoking case studies about these three dilemmas, Saj-nicole prepares the audience to rise to their best by taking them on a dynamic journey to the intersection of leadership and strategy that is at the heart of 21st century success.

    Authentic Leadership
    Leadership of multinational organizations demands more from executives than ever before. The issues are more complex, more numerous, and more urgent. How can you retain your humanity, lead with integrity, and be fully present for your people when the stakes are so much higher than they have ever been? In this talk, Saj-nicole explores with the audience the dilemmas of leadership and how to work through them authentically.

    The Third Opinion
    The subject of Saj-nicole's first book, The Third Opinion: How Successful Leaders Use Outside Insight to Create Superior Results, this talk looks at how leaders of all levels develop their network of advice and counsel - in order to challenge and sustain their life-long leadership potential. Developing wider perspective, seeking unfettered exploration and unvarnished truth is essential when leadership stakes are high. Saj-nicole shows how leaders through history have sought "third opinions" from outside counselors, balancing the need for inside knowledge with outside perspective. She helps audiences think about how to systematically create their own strategic networks, and how to enable those they mentor to do the same.

    What It Takes to Win: The Right Fight
    Organizational alignment isn’t enough to drive success. In fact the dirty secret of leadership is that “productive dissent” is essential. In this groundbreaking keynote, Saj-nicole shares her practical approach to orchestrating then harnessing “the right fights” that unleash innovation, risk management, and leadership potential in any organization. It all begins with the critical question, “Are we fighting about the right things?”



Saj-nicole Joni, Business Strategist: Keynote


Saj-nicole Joni explores where ideas come from in this personal and mind stimulating talk. Ideas can have multiple sources, she points out, but even more significant is the underlying layer of how these sources connect to one another.

"No one, no matter how good they are, is as good thinking alone as they are partnered with someone as good or better than they are - especially and including someone who's different," she comments. Saj-nicole uses surprisingly true life stories, such as the little known team effort it took for one man to break the four minute mile, to pinpoint that innovation stems from the intersection of connectivity and productive conflict.

Saj-nicole Joni, Business Strategist: Speaking Reel


Saj-nicole Joni, Business Strategist: Keynote