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by Giles Campbell on 14 Sep 2015

Interview with Giles Campbell

Awarded the Turnaround Management Association’s “European Turnaround of the Year 2013”, Giles has 12 years of international CEO experience and holds an MBA from London Business School.

What are the key challenges organisation’s face when managing business transformation?

Having a leader who is prepared to take the responsibility of implementing transformation.

Making transformation a priority and actually figuring out what to do in the first place (requires creative commercial thinking - scarce resource).

Capacity to deliver transformation whilst simultaneously running the business as usual (BAU). You need extra people in general management to have the time/focus. Interims are good for this.

Architects/Builders/Operators: Running a business on a day to day basis is what most managers are good at. Designing transformation is not a common skill amongst most management. Interims are good for this too.

Tension between tactical needs and strategic needs. Transformation often involves taking steps in a direction that counter-intuitive to the tactical need.

Expectations about pace: “Change” is normally slow and organic. Transformation involves getting 5 years of “change” done in 6 months, often leapfrogging a lot of the organic stuff. You need someone who has this pace expectation leading the transformation process.

In your experience, how are organisations approaching managing Business Transformation?  What works/what fails?

Most common approach is not to do it. Who has the time? Who has the responsibility? Why take the risk? etc

What is your experience of the level of internal capability organisations usually have in managing business transformation?

Generally very low as most internal staff are hired for the purpose of running the business as usual, not transforming it. Transformation skills are not commonly on the hiring agenda. Furthermore, transformation oriented people are generally not the right personality type for long-term management of a business. Again, architects/builders/operators.

In your experience, how easy is it for a business leader to know if their organisation has a capability gap?

Very easy. The real issue is whether they will actually ask the question.

In your experience, how easy is it for a business leader to find out what the capability required is?

Again easy. But transformation is about much more than capabilities. It’s about changing the whole shape, focus, behavioural norms, cultural expectations, proposition of a business from A to G in one step, skipping out B,C,D,E,F.

How would you suggest approaching developing an internal capability in managing business transformation?

Only relevant in large-scale groups. Have a group-level team that specialise in this. Alternatively bring in transformation skills when it is recognised to be needed. Transformation cannot be the “steady state” of a business. It is exhausting, costly and has to have a destination. It is not the journey.

What advice do you have for business leaders managing Business Transformation?

Get help.

What are the three top tips you would give other business leaders around building an internal capability in managing business transformation?

Choose highly creative thinkers with multi-industry and multifunctional experience, good leadership and analytical skills, experience of difficult/crisis situations and experience of delivering transformation. These people are VERY few are far between. They will not be good long-term general managers but will bring the spark of creative commercial thinking that will be required to initiate and drive a transformation. Most important part being what to actually transform into!

Awarded the Turnaround Management Association’s “European Turnaround of the Year 2013”, Giles has 12 years of international CEO experience and holds an MBA from London Business School. He has worked in a wide range of industries, including retail fashion, advertising, manufacturing, IT, mobile telecoms, broadband, pay-tv, heavy fleet rental and agriculture. He specialises in running fast paced, hands-on business transformation and has comprehensive experience of leading executive teams to rapidly deliver transformational performance improvements. A British national with extensive experience of working with UK PLC boards, shareholders and financial institutions, he takes a practical approach to solving crisis situations and is known for delivering rapid results. He is currently a Managing Director at Bryan Mansell & Tilley LLP (pan-european turnaround and transaction projects) and an independent interim executive. He also owns an agricultural machinery company, and is a non-exec director for a technology startup.

How to approach your business transformation

Giles Campbell

Written by Giles Campbell

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