The Team

Robert Weibel

CEO Founder of CENAD, he has completed over 2200 missions for over 100 governments and IOs involving delegates from over 90% of the world’s countries on negotiation (international, institutional, political, humanitarian and business), mediation/conflict resolution, chairing/presidency techniques, diplomacy and crisis management.

Internationally there has been close cooperation at HQ and field levels with major International Organisations: UN (UNHCR, ITC, WHO, WFP, UNCTAD, INC/UNFCCC, INC/D, WMO, UNAIDS, OCHA, UNAMI, ILO, UNSSC, UNSSD, IOM), NATO, BIS, the Council of Europe (Strasbourg), OSCE, Global Fund, ICRC, MSF, GAVI, Centre of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation (CCHN) as well as numerous civil society entities. He has engaged intensively in diplomatic activities worldwide since 1987, and led negotiation training consultancies for major international pharmaceutical, food, engineering, banking and crop science industrial companies.

At EU level, Robert has worked closely with 41 EU Council Presidencies and trained over 60 ministers as well as several thousand chairpersons, heads of delegations and coordinators; 24 member states  call upon his services regularly as do the 3 European Institutions, several EU Agencies, External Action Service (EEAS), ECB and European Supervisory Authorities.  He has conducted the European Diplomatic Programme (EDP) negotiation module every year since 2001.

Jonathan Weibel

As CENAD managing director and trainer, Jonathan is responsible for development, and delivery of EU and International trainings. He is also in charge of the overall programme management, finance and marketing activities within the company. In addition, Jonathan is CENAD’s trainer for staff involved in EU negotiations as well as for trainings dedicated to practitioners from International Organizations and INGO’s working in the field such as MSF. He continues to teach International Negotiations at the Diplomatische Akademie, Wien.

Focusing on negotiation-related training since 2012, jonathan has been functioning as trainer and facilitator in over 100 seminars overall in EU and international negotiation, policy dialogue, mediation / conflict resolution, EU chairmanship / presidency skills and techniques as well as crisis management and private sector negotiations. He delivered negotiation training in Astana in 2017; in 2018 he conducted 3 negotiation sessions for the Turkish Ministry of Interior (EU funded) on negotiating migration issues on EU-TK levels.

Before joining CENAD, Jonathan worked as a Negotiation and Communication Trainer in the Capacity Building Department of the International Organization for Migration IOM, Iraq Mission. He was responsible Integrative Border Management and Communication aspects involving different Ministries within the Central Government of Iraq as well as negotiation and communication trainer for in-house and Training of Trainers (ToT) trainings in the region.

Denis Colfer

Denis’ civil service career began with the Irish Department of Tourism & Trade (1993-96) during time which he chaired EU Council meetings and dealt directly with the Commission and European Parliament. Until 2002, he was posted at the Irish EU Permanent Representation covering Internal Market issues related to trade, tourism, consumer affairs as well as horizontal questions related to anti-dumping, GSP, company Law, Phare and Tacis programmes. In 2002-04, Denis focused on employment strategy at the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment representing Ireland at the ILO as well as chairing EU coordination meetings during the 2004 Irish EU Presidency,

Since 2004, as CENAD Associate, Senior Executive Trainer, Denis has led Negotiation Consultancies and International & EU Negotiation seminars with a specialization on chairing skills. At EU level, he has helped prepare Portugal (2020), Bulgaria (2018) Estonia (2017), Slovakia (2016), Netherlands (2016), Lithuania (2013), Ireland (2013), Poland (2011), Czech Republic (2009), Sweden (2009) and Finland (2006) for their Presidencies.

In addition, Denis has engaged in:

  • Diplomatic training (Bern, Brussels, Vienna, Prague, Astana)
  • Policy Dialogue (DG Devco, Trinidad & Tobago)
  • WTO negotiation training for African and Gulf States
  • ESCB negotiation training (Frankfurt)
  • Business-Public Sector negotiation training (Vienna)

Franz Gundacker

Franz’s civil service career began with the Federal Civil Service of Austria (1979-2008) which was enriched by several international assignments. His work in the Public Employment Service (1979-1992, 1994-1997) led to senior management functions at Land and Federal levels, and serving as Executive Secretary to the World Association of Public Employment Services (WAPES). At the Federal Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs (1999-2003) Franz was Deputy Director General of EU and International Affairs and protocol official to the Minister.

International postings: Paris OECD Consultant (1992-1994); EU Council as Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Representation of Austria (1997-1999); Senior Advisor at the Budapest ILO Sub-Regional Office, responsible for projects in 11 countries in South Eastern and Eastern Europe.

Since 2004, Franz has worked extensively as a CENAD Associate, Senior Executive Trainer specialized in International & EU Negotiation, and Report Writing:

  • EU Member States & Brussels for the TFEU Council Presidencies of the Czech Republic, Sweden, Poland, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, Netherlands, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Portugal, which have included Minister coachings
  • Public Administration / Civil Society / Business: Berlin, Lucerne, Geneva, Amman, Nur Sultan (formerly Astana)
  • Diplomatic training: Bern, Brussels, Prague, Yerevan
  • Central banking: Frankfurt, Riga, Copenhagen, Rome
  • N. and Intergovernmental Organisations: Geneva, Quito, Pretoria, Cancun, Manila
  • Academia: Geneva

Ari Sihvola

Before joining the CENAD Team, Ari Sihvola worked 16 years in the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs as a Counsellor and Chief of Training with a special focus on capacity building of young and senior diplomats and leadership development. In 2000-2003, he joined the European Commission, designing a capacity development strategy for the Commission’s Delegations worldwide. Furthermore, he represented the Commission in the Council Working Party on administration, protocol and security, and was actively engaged in the negotiations which established the European Diplomatic Programme (EDP). 

Upon returning to Finland, Ari became the Head of HAUS International (Finnish Institute of Public Management) in charge of running mainly EU financed development projects in EU candidate and potential candidate countries (Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Kosovo, Cyprus, Croatia and Montenegro). His expertise focused on public administration reforms of those countries, including the fight against corruption, introduction of merit-based recruitment for senior PA managers, and enforcing integrity of the civil service. Later, in his capacity as HAUS Director of Development and senior advisor, Ari developed public governance and counselled senior public executives in Namibia, Zambia, China/Guangdong and Guatemala.

An avid trainer, Ari has conducted negotiation training and counselling e.g. in Estonia, Slovakia, Montenegro and Bulgaria. By education, Sihvola has a PhD (Helsinki) in the history of political ideas.

Laurent Verrellen

CENAD Associate, Senior Executive Trainer, coach and communication & management consultant for more than 20 years, previously conference interpreter and actor, his various professional activities have always implied working with and learning from the best. He has modelized the most effective tools used by the greatest teachers, speakers, presenters, negotiators, managers and leaders in all walks of life.

At EU level, Laurent was greatly involved in the Czech, Polish, Lithuanian, Slovak and Bulgarian EU Council Presidency preparations as well as with the European Commission. In addition, he has led communication and public speaking seminars for MFAs of Greece, Poland, and Portugal specifically as well as for the European Diplomatic Programme (EDP).

He has provided training and coaching to a large number of major corporations and organisations such as the World Economic Forum, Renault, Ford, Volvo, Electrabel, Bouygues, Arcelor, Bombardier, Danone, ACCOR, Starwood hotels, AGFA, Triumph, GEA, DieBahn DB, ING, DEXIA, Fortis, Crédit Agricole, BNP, Groupe Suez, Festival d’Avignon, European Commission, European Parliament, Eurostat, Confédération Européenne des Syndicats (ETUC), AXA, Institut Européen d’Administration Publique (EIPA), ECDPM, Ecoles Européennes, European cultural networks, BusinessEurope, numerous European Works Councils as well as European federations and associations, NGO’s, national administrations, ministries and diplomatic academies

Jessica Weibel

Jessica is a Certified Professional Coach & Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach specialized in personal empowerment and strengths-based development.

With over 15+ experience in the corporate private sector working very closely with Senior Management Teams, she has extensive expertise in strategy, communication, marketing & innovation and a broad understanding of international & multicultural workplace realities, challenges – and opportunities.

Passionate about helping people evolve, succeed and most importantly feel heard, valued & supported, she facilitates workshops on empowered living and helps corporate executives & emerging leaders unlock their greatest talents to successfully achieve personal & professional aspirations. 

As a CENAD coach & consultant, she helps principle officers, national/institutional public servants, diplomats and civil society apply their most unique talents to actively and collectively do their best work in shaping our future for the better.

Ailsa Lee

Ailsa is CENAD’s administrative manager, in charge of the secretariat and supporting CENAD’s operations in planning, organizing, and implementing administrative systems.