Snowden is an Honorary Professor in the School of Psychology at Bangor University and holds an Master of Business Administration from Middlesex University, and a Bachelor in Philosophy from Lancaster University. He obtained an Master of Business Administration degree in financial management, studying part-time, from Middlesex University.
He started his working career with Data Sciences Limited (formerly Thorn Electric and Music Industries software), acquired by International Business Machines Corporation in 1996. Snowden developed the Cynefin framework, a practical application of complexity theory to management science. He then worked for the Student Christian Movement for three years.
In 1984, Snowden joined Thorn Electric and Music Industries Software - the consulting, systems integration and outsourcing service division of Thorn Electric and Music Industries plc, a major United Kingdom electronics company.
He joined Data Sciences Limited when Thorn Electric and Music Industries Software division became the subject of a management buyout and demerged to Data Sciences in 1991. He held several positions while at Thorn Electric and Music Industries Software/Data Sciences.
In 1996, Data Sciences was acquired by International Business Machines Corporation. And he became a director in the International Business Machines Corporation Institute for Knowledge Management, and then founded their Cynefin Centre for Organisational Complexity. The Cynefin framework helps managers determine the prevailing operative context, enabling appropriate choices and decisions.
Snowden explains the choice of the term Cynefin /kʌnᵻvɪn/: a Welsh word that signifies the "multiple factors in our environment and our experience that influence us in ways we can never understand".
Cynefin has a meaning similar to "habitat" and is also used "as an adjective used to convey "acquainted" or "familiar"."
Snowden was awarded an honorary chair in the School of Psychology at Bangor University in 2015. He joined as a visiting professor at the University of Pretoria in 2007.
He is currently an adjunct at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. And a visiting fellow at Warwick University, Nanyang University, the Università Cattolica and the Singapore Management College.
He has held visiting positions at the universities of Canberra and Surrey.
In 1975, he was awarded a degree in philosophy from the University of Lancaster, where he was a member of County College.