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Expert Exchange

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Digital transformation: is the hype ahead of the reality?

by James Wilson and Matt Whipp on 06 Jun 2019

We could write endlessly on the fact that many businesses are now digitising, rare is there a business that doesn’t have a digital implementation plan underway.

Yet, while “digital transformation” has become the buzzword of choice, we are still waiting for a universal acknowledgement of what the term is. It’s this ambiguity that potentially leads many to view digital transformation as merely “hype” and for the topic to become divisive. However, the focus on becoming digital – or being seen to be digital – is arguably not what matters.

BIE hosted a breakfast with senior leaders exploring the role of digital, predominantly within the finance function, and what became clear is the world is now shifting, along with consumer expectations, and businesses must respond to the change.

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Are working from home days the new normal for senior executives?

by BIE on 17 May 2019

The working from home discussion has long been a heavily debated one. There are those who think people will get nothing done, and it doesn't work for every business. But there are many who believe employees will be happier and more productive if they have the option to work from home. And the latest statistics show that organisations have become more open to it. Ultimately, there needs to be a balance between the needs of the business versus the needs of the individual.

But what does the debate look like at the senior executive level? Is there an appetite and an expectation amongst senior-level talent to work from home? How receptive are organisations to it? And what are the benefits - and potential downsides - at both an individual and organisational level?

Drawing on the perspectives of BIE consultants Catherine Osaigbovo, Emma-Claire Kavanagh and Gordon Whyte from their experience of working with both candidates and clients, we seek to answer these questions.

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What should you look for in an interim manager?

by Emma-Claire Kavanagh on 07 May 2019

If you’ve decided that your business could benefit from hiring an interim manager, whether it’s to help with a transformation project, implement a new system, or rescue a failing project, you’ll now be focused on identifying the right person for the task.

You know that interims will be used to dealing with tight deadlines, high-pressure circumstances and adapting into established teams, so you’ll expect to see evidence of this in their CV.

But what exactly should you be looking for in an interim? And how do you know when someone is a good fit for your business?

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Highlights from BIE's Senior Leaders dinner

by Simon Moore on 29 Apr 2019

Earlier this month, myself, James Gherardi, and Gordon Whyte hosted a Senior Leaders Dinner at the Manor House, near Bristol. The event was attended by people from a diverse range of sectors, including high-tech engineering, product retail, high-end fashion retail, aviation, and professional services. We also had a great cross-section of people from CxOs, HRDs, MDs, and CPOs, to others in supply chain procurement, technology, and management consulting.

The biggest topic of conversation for the evening was mental health. It was a really emotive and open conversation, and one that probably wouldn’t have flowed so easily a few years ago. We also discussed the demands of the workforce today and what companies are doing to build their brand and improve retention, as well as what digital means to different sectors and the importance of making sure your business is prepared for the next piece of technology.

Here’s a more detailed rundown of the key takeaways.

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by Simon Cordrey on 23 Apr 2019

Editors note: This blog post was originally published in June 2016 and has since been updated with additional information.

BIE research found that 80% of organisations are going through a business transformation of some nature, with systems implementations, cost out operations, and standardisation of processes being most common.

Despite the immeasurable benefits it can offer, enacting a fundamental change in the way your business operates can be a long and arduous journey, with no guarantee of success. So how do you ensure yours does succeed?

No business transformation is the same. However, there are four vital steps that every organisation should take.

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How to survive a mid-life career crisis

by Celine Clark on 15 Apr 2019

If someone in their mid-late 40s or 50s buys a sports car, takes up a new and unexpected hobby, or becomes suddenly more impulsive in their decision making, we assume they must be having a mid-life crisis.

As people transition from younger to older adults, they tend to evaluate where they are in their lives, what they’ve achieved, and how this matches up against the hopes they had wished for in the past. And sometimes, this can result in a loss of self-confidence or feelings of anxiety or disappointment - hence the sudden need for change.

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3 key ingredients of successful business transformation

by Simon Cordrey on 08 Apr 2019

Editors note: This blog post was originally published in May 2016 and has since been updated with additional information.

Achieving successful business transformation is not easy.  Not all transformations are successful at improving performance and equipping the organisation to sustain improvements over time.

This being true, the risk for senior leaders is high. However, business transformation and continual evolution are unavoidable in today’s global marketplace. Changes in customer expectations, the market environment, and the competitive landscape happen more frequently - and faster than ever.

In research by BIE, an overwhelming 80% of senior executives said their company was going through a business transformation of some nature, driven by a need to reduce costs and become more efficient in this more competitive market.

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A new paradigm in software adoption

by Niraj Varia on 01 Apr 2019

New technologies have great potential and promise for transforming and digitising HR. However, many programmes are failing to deliver their return on investment. You can buy and build a bright shiny box, but if it is not being fully utilised, the benefits diminish rapidly, hence why adoption is a hot topic in this space.

There are three common reasons why adoption is a problem. First, when coping with constant disruption, how do you get your organisation to focus on adopting this new piece of technology? Second, the speed and scale of technology change is now much greater than the individual speed of behavioural change. Finally, there is relentless pressure to deliver results, meaning programmes tend to focus on the technology and not on adoption. The net result is failure of programmes to deliver the SaaS promise.

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Developing your career identity in the modern world

by Fran Cardells on 25 Mar 2019

Our relationship with work has significantly changed over the past century. What started as a series of gigs to provide for the family, became related work experiences with meaning and consistency. With the rise of the corporate ladder in the 1970s and 1980s, we started to think about ‘careers’ and people became focused on climbing to the top of their chosen area of expertise.

Today, the climate is again very different. We have created new professions based around the same skill sets that already exist, and the lines between business and finance, HR and IT, for example, are more blurred. As a consequence, fewer of us are treading the linear career path. People are more open to moving around, and not just between organisations or even sectors, but between different kinds of roles too.

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What’s on the CFO’s mind: Dealing with the uncertainty around Brexit

by Eoin Canty on 18 Mar 2019

We held a breakfast discussion focusing on how businesses are dealing with the uncertainty caused by Brexit. The feeling around the room was that UK businesses are tired of working through uncertainty.

The political agenda is a continuation of the Brexit campaign, focused on borders not businesses, which is impacting on contingency planning and decision-making. But the room agreed there was a real opportunity to create a positive tone and grow ‘Brand Britain’, through promoting the assets the UK has to offer.

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BIE's Finance team expands capability

by Marty Jaynes on 12 Mar 2019

BIE Executive are pleased to welcome Tom Johnstone to the finance team.

At BIE, we are known for our ability to support businesses going through change, especially when it comes to recruiting strategic hires at the senior end of the market.

The addition of Tom allows the finance team to extend BIE’s end-to-end recruitment capability by providing solutions to help organisations with their succession planning earlier in the cycle. This is through identifying future leaders in finance at a divisional FD level, as well as FP&A, reporting, and financial control.

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How to boost your visibility to executive search firms

by Marty Jaynes on 11 Mar 2019

Passive candidates represent valuable prospects for employers needing to fillsenior executive positions. But how do you ensure that you’ll be considered for these new opportunities?

I talked to BIE consultants Janet Musgrave, James Gherardi, and Eoin Canty, who gave their perspectives on how to boost your visibility to executive search firms, drawing on their own experience of recruiting in the HR, Supply Chain, and Finance functions.

As James says, “The key thing is this is a passive network that we’re dealing with, and most of the roles we are working on we don’t advertise, so you need to be proactive and on our radar in order to be considered for new opportunities."

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Why business transformation fails - and how to avoid it

by Marty Jaynes on 04 Mar 2019

Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published in June 2016 but has been updated with additional information.

Constant transformation is the norm for businesses today. 80% of organisations are going through a transformation of some sort, according to BIE’s Business Transformation Survey 2018.

But, not all transformations succeed in improving a company’s performance and sustaining those gains in the long-term. Research over a number of years seems to show that the success rate for these efforts is consistently low, with less than 30% succeeding.

So, if the cards are stacked against you, how do you ensure that your business transformation bears fruit?

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The foundation of every good search: Market mapping

by Marty Jaynes on 25 Feb 2019

Recently, we discussed how executive search is a research-led approach, with search firms mapping the market and benchmarking for particular skills, roles, and salaries.

In this post, we aim to help both organisations and candidates alike, understand the fundamental role market mapping plays in executive search. As well as covering the fundamentals of market mapping, I spoke to Sheira Schoeman, Research Manager at BIE Executive, for her insight into market mapping in practice.

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Can executive search tackle unconscious bias?

by Janet Musgrave on 18 Feb 2019

A highly engaged top team with a diverse set of backgrounds and perspectives makes a company more dynamic, creative, and innovative. But if you only ever look for the same type of candidate, how are you ever going to get anyone different to what you have already got? It's not just about relevant industry experience either, it's about everything from gender and race to religion and even leadership style.

The trouble is, even if an organisation isn't intentionally looking for executive talent who fit the same profile as their predecessors, unconscious biases can have a critical - and sometimes problematic - effect on judgement.

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BIE makes Recruiter's FAST50 2019 at number 16

by Marty Jaynes on 14 Feb 2019

BIE Executive are delighted to be recognised in the Recruiter's FAST 50 2019 rankings.

The Recruiter FAST 50 is prepared by Clearwater International and lists the fastest-growing, privately-owned recruitment companies in the UK, according to a revenue compound annual growth rate over the three most recent annual reporting periods.

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Behind the scenes: The 3 stages of Executive Search

by James Gherardi on 11 Feb 2019

Executive search enables organisations to find and engage highly skilled senior executive talent, from a wide pool of candidates who may not be actively looking for a job.

In last week’s post, myself and my search colleagues Eoin and Janet discussed the merits of working with an executive search firm. In this week’s post, I wanted to explore the three key stages of a search process, as well as the typical timelines you can expect, from the point of developing a brief to the moment the successful candidate starts their new role.

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BIE consultants discuss the merits of Executive Search

by Marty Jaynes on 04 Feb 2019

Finding the top talent that will take your company where it needs to go isn’t easy. This is why many organisations partner with an executive search firm. An executive search firm works as an extension of your business to identify and engage the best top-level executive talent in the market to match your distinct business requirements.

However, as with most things in life, there are both pros and cons of using an executive search firm to find talent. With this in mind, I talked with some of our search consultants specialising in HR, finance, and supply chain to discuss the pros and cons of using an executive search firm.

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Evaluating different approaches to innovation

by Marty Jaynes on 28 Jan 2019

With technological advancements bringing a rapid pace of change, most businesses need to look for new ways to drive revenue. But with an almost endless amount of choice, deciding what to do can be tough. And once you’ve overcome that hurdle, the next challenge is figuring out how to do it.

Last year, we explored some of the different approaches organisations have been taking to innovation.

Here, we summarise the pros and cons of four key approaches.

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The changing landscape of Executive Search

by Eoin Canty on 21 Jan 2019

Executive search is booming due to the need for new skills, increasing demands from emerging markets, and the changing needs of organisations who are experiencing significant changes in their business strategies - as a result of trends such as globalisation and digital transformation.

Executive search used to be about finding senior people with the technical skills and qualifications to fill a role. Today, hiring executive talent has become far more complex.

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A brave new world - interim vs permanent

by Marty Jaynes on 14 Jan 2019

Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published in April 2017 but has since been updated with additional information.

Our original post provoked a lot of discussion around whether or not making the move from permanent to interim is good for career progression. At the time, some candidates were experiencing perceptions that going down the interim management route was a career-ending decision; something that was done just before you wanted to retire and would hinder, if not stymie, their chances of having another permanent role.

The post argued that the market is a lot more fluid than it used to be and that there really isn’t any reason why you can’t move between interim and permanent roles. Rather, your next career move should come down to which opportunity is of more interest to you at that point in time. Indeed, many of the comments supported this sentiment. In fact, the general consensus from those who have entered the world of interim management is that it has defined their careers and led them to enjoy considerable career progression.

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Reflecting on BIE's 2018 research and thoughts for the year ahead

by Marty Jaynes on 07 Jan 2019

Happy New Year! We hope you enjoyed a great holiday season and are excited for 2019.

In our previous post, we reflected on the most viewed BIE blogs of 2018, which covered the popular topics of business transformation, interim management, and innovation.

In this blog post, we wanted to recap the research projects we carried out last year. We tapped into the latest trends in three functional areas, including business transformation, finance, and supply chain. In case you missed them, here’s a rundown of the key findings and themes from each of the reports.

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2018's most popular topics

by Marty Jaynes on 24 Dec 2018

With just one day to go until Christmas, we find ourselves at the end of another year. We hope you have a great break and are looking forward to an exciting 2019.

Here at BIE, we’ve been taking a look back at the most viewed blog posts from 2018.

In case you missed any, here is a recap of the top five.

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How an interim manager can solve your business challenges

by Marty Jaynes on 17 Dec 2018

Whether you need someone to deliver business transformation, to guide you through a merger or acquisition, or to fill a skills gap on a short-term basis; interim managers bring with them a specific set of skills and experiences to take the lead.

It’s the versatility of interim managers that give them an edge. They fill the gaps in an organisation’s skill set and experience. And on a more practical level, they will be used to dealing with tight deadlines, high-pressure circumstances, and navigating established teams.

Interim managers are well-suited to helping organisations solve a broad range of problems, by offering:

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Should you outsource innovation to a third-party consultancy?

by Marty Jaynes on 10 Dec 2018

With technological advancements bringing a rapid pace of change, businesses need to innovate to drive revenue. But with an almost endless amount of choice, it can be difficult for business leaders to decide what to do. Should their focus be on leveraging artificial intelligence to drive cost out? Or should they concentrate on using IoT to increase organisational efficiency?

But as much as establishing what to do can be challenging, often it’s the how that commands more attention.

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6 steps to hiring the right interim manager

by Marty Jaynes on 03 Dec 2018

While your permanent employees are the backbone of your business, interim managers are an effective solution for the increasing requirement organisations have for filling key skills gaps, especially during periods of transition and transformation.

There are currently around 20,000 interims in the UK, but how do you find the right one for your business?

Here, we outline a step-by-step guide to hiring an interim.

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7 practical matters you need to know when hiring an interim manager

by Marty Jaynes on 23 Nov 2018

Whether going through a major business transformation, integrating a new system or going through a merger or acquisition, interim managers can be an indispensable resource for businesses going through change.

Interim managers are commissioned at a senior level on an assignment basis and take full line or project responsibility from day one. Not only is hiring an interim manager a big decision, but often the need for an interim is urgent, so it’s important to be aware of the practicalities.

We highlight seven practical matters organisations need to know when hiring an interim manager.

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Top senior talent Catherine Osaigbovo joins BIE

by Marty Jaynes on 22 Nov 2018

BIE Executive continues to attract top senior talent from other businesses, and are pleased to welcome Catherine Osaigbovo to the HR team.

Catherine joins as a Director, with over 20 years’ recruitment experience of which the past 12 have been specialising in HR. Her focus will be on senior permanent mandates across all sectors and HR expertise, as well as collaborating closely with BIE’s transformation business. 

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Are you ready to hire a disruptor?

by Janet Musgrave on 21 Nov 2018

Increasingly, organisations want to bring in new thinkers with new ideas into their business. They want people who can disrupt and innovate, and in doing so, drive the business forward both strategically and operationally.

In order for businesses to break the cultural and technical mould and get out of their comfort zone, executive search shouldn’t be just about ‘appointing’. It should be a smart and targeted focus to find people who will help your business to think differently, who will offer a fresh perspective, and who can strengthen your organisation. But is your organisation truly ready for a disruptor and challenger of the status quo?

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The pros and cons of the Startup Incubator approach

by Alastair Lechler on 12 Nov 2018

In an earlier post, we discussed how organisations across diverse industry sectors are increasingly seeking more innovative ways of working. We also looked at the Fast Follower approach to innovation and the pros and cons of being second or third to market.

In this post, we take a look at the growing trend in the UK of start-up incubators and discuss the pros and cons of this approach.

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7 steps to setting up as an interim manager

by Marty Jaynes on 05 Nov 2018

If you have been contemplating the move to a future as an interim manager, you're probably already clear about what a hugely fulfilling role it can be. The focus is always about delivering value, knowledge and ensuring any capability gap has been bridged once you have left the business. For many people, it’s the perfect professional move.

But how do you make the move into interim management? What will your prospective employers be looking for in the best candidate for an interim role? What are the financial and legal considerations of flying solo? And, given the anticipated legislative changes for the self-employed highlighted in the latest UK Budget announcement, what might be the likely implications for interims of the new rules on IR35?

Here at BIE we will be keeping up-to-date on the latest IR35 developments which will allow us to offer you advice once legislation changes. In the meantime, here are our consultants’ thoughts on the top 7 steps that are essential for those searching for interim management positions:

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The relationship between working capital and customer service

by James Gherardi on 29 Oct 2018

BIE’s Supply Chain Risk Survey 2018 explored the most important areas of focus for organisations to optimise the relationship between working capital and customer service levels. The top three areas were revealed to be S&OP/IBP, demand management and order to cash cycle.

What we’re clearly seeing is there are supply chains recognising the value of sales and operations planning, effective demand management, and optimising the order to cash cycle.

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BIE expand through multiple new hires

by BIE on 22 Oct 2018

BIE Executive, a leading consultancy working with organisations going through change, is pleased to welcome several new senior hires to the business.

CEO, Rob Walker, commented: “I’m excited by the calibre of the consultants we have attracted to BIE. They will allow us to enhance our offering by strengthening all our teams across the business with their experience, in-depth knowledge and strong track records within their respective industries.

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Transformation as a means of succession planning

by Simon Moore on 22 Oct 2018

In an environment where there are fewer and fewer roles in finance because of outsourcing, transformation is one of the best areas where you can still give people succession development opportunities to make them ready for the next step.

Transformation projects mean exposure to different experiences and dealing with a variety of people. It means working across different functions, whether it’s IT or HR, as well as with external parties like consultancies and systems integrators. This experience will be vital when you get to the top and need to engage and liaise with the board.

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What role does the supply chain play in driving revenue?

by James Gherardi on 15 Oct 2018

Historically, supply chains have been focused on decreasing operating costs as opposed to driving revenue. And BIE’s recent research found that reducing operating costs is still the number one goal for the supply chain.

You could say that driving revenue growth only comes from the commercial side of the business. A business’ supply chain should without doubt be an enabler to driving that revenue growth, but could an effective supply chain become a revenue generator in its own right? To what extent could something be created that other organisations would want to have a piece of?

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Is finance still leading the decision support function?

by Simon Moore on 08 Oct 2018

Companies have more data than ever at their disposal. But knowing how to interpret this data to inform strategic and operational decisions is easier said than done. And organisations are grappling with how to fuse together meaningful data from a plethora of systems.

Often the responsibility falls to finance, because it's numbers. But these numbers aren't just financial - they come from all areas of the business.

It’s here that we can expect the world of decision support to come into its own. This function will be made up of a number of different skills. There will be finance expertise; data specialists who can find patterns and theories in the numbers. But then you need people who can paint that picture and explain the patterns in the numbers to the board.

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How to overcome the biggest risks for the supply chain

by James Gherardi on 01 Oct 2018

The supply chain is recognising that having an influence on responsiveness and increasing efficiency are amongst their biggest challenges, according to BIE research.

The results of our Supply Chain Risk Survey 2018 revealed that the three biggest challenges faced by the supply chain over the last three years were also the top three challenges anticipated for the next three years;

  • Increased customer expectations
  • Increased volatility of customer demand
  • Increased cost pressure

What strategies does the supply chain need to adopt to overcome these challenges?

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Where is the next CFO coming from?

by Simon Moore on 26 Sep 2018

The silos of technical, commercial, and shared services in the finance function are creating a problem. In ten years’ time, it will be much harder to find well-rounded finance talent. As discussed in a previous post, this increasing focus on specialisms within the function are hindering succession planning.

Currently, the most common route to becoming CFO is to come up through a group finance role, move into FP&A, followed by getting divisional FD experience, before heading finally towards the number one position. But with the development of specialisms, what does the future path to the top look like? Where will the next CFO come from?

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The technology disconnect within the supply chain

by James Gherardi on 17 Sep 2018

The results of BIE's Supply Chain Risk Survey 2018 indicate that there is a disconnect between the use of technology and businesses embracing the potential technological advantages they could be using to optimise their processes and people activities.

Supply chain professionals recognise that having an influence on responsiveness and a high level of efficiency within their supply chain provides a significant competitive advantage, yet also poses one of their biggest challenges. Conventional lean initiatives in the supply chain have focused on improving efficiencies and reducing cost through the elimination of waste.

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How is the finance function investing in people in 2018 and beyond?

by Simon Moore on 12 Sep 2018

Commercial finance and FP&A were the top areas that organisations were looking to invest in during 2018, according to BIE's Finance Succession Planning and Transformation Report

This is no real surprise as we see organisations drive towards an increased use of technology and decision support functions, as well as using analytics to predict and develop decisions for the future. Everyone is looking to the future which naturally means the focus is on planning and commercial support.

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How the supply chain risk profile is changing

by James Gherardi on 05 Sep 2018

There has been and continues to be an increasing perception of risk in the supply chain. In research by BIE, 68% of respondents said their supply chain risk profile had increased over the last three years, and 77% envisage their supply chain risk profile continuing to increase over the next three years.

Yet the biggest challenges that the supply chain has been focusing on are the same big challenges that the business has been focusing on, which is getting involved in the day-to-day activities of looking at customer expectations. The supply chain is not addressing any of the real risks that you would expect to see in an organisation.

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A question of responsibility: The CFOs role in succession planning

by Simon Moore on 28 Aug 2018

CFOs today need to be focused on more than just the numbers. They need to be able to play a central role in enabling the business to operate effectively, especially when going through business transformation.

But how much of a role are CFOs playing when it comes to succession planning and people development within the function? And how much of a role should they be playing?

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It's time to address the supply chain talent shortage

by James Gherardi on 20 Aug 2018

The supply chain is facing a talent shortage. And organisations need to be doing more to invest in succession planning within the function.

Our recent Supply Chain Risk Survey 2018 revealed that 71% of supply chain professionals were recruited into their current role from external sources rather than being promoted internally. This suggests that there is work to do in supply chain succession planning strategy and management, with some investigation needed into what is causing the capability gap.

Preparing for the future

The challenge is how do you bring the practicality of managing an end-to-end supply chain operation into the classroom so that you have effective leaders for the future?

It’s very much up to employers and academic institutions to work together to ensure the right set of skills are available in the marketplace. Particularly around the use of technology, IT and innovations such as 3D printing in the supply chain.

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Preparing the supply chain for Brexit

by Omera Khan on 13 Aug 2018

There's no doubt that Brexit will disrupt businesses, bringing both uncertainties and opportunities. As strategic supply chain risk expert Professor Omera Khan tells us - organisations need to transform their supply chain now in order to prepare.

With both business transformation and Brexit, there are three important stages in the journey to implement real change: mapping out a vision, identifying the people and capabilities required, and planning and designing the transformation. Each of these phases calls for time and investment to affect the best possible outcome.

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Are CFOs sponsoring more business transformations?

by Ben Hawkins on 06 Aug 2018

Business transformation is everywhere. An overwhelming 80% of senior executives surveyed by BIE said their company was going through a business transformation of some nature.

Traditionally, the CEO is ultimately responsible for the vision, direction and strategy of the business transformation. Each line manager then plays their part in aligning the business unit to the overall transformation.

However, BIE's annual survey also found that for 41% of organisations, the CEO was the sponsor of their business transformation programme, but that the CFO accounted for 21% of sponsors.

So what exactly is the role of the CFO in business transformation?

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Succession planning: the key to future-proofing your business

by Marty Jaynes on 30 Jul 2018

If we asked you the question, ‘does your business have the next generation ready to fill roles at all levels of your company?’, what would your answer be?

While developing internal talent is a key priority for many organisations, BIE research revealed that 66% of CFOs believe their successor will come from external sources. At least in the finance function, it seems that organisations aren’t taking succession planning seriously.

A forward-thinking approach is critical for ensuring your business is well-equipped to thrive against a backdrop of constant change. And this includes creating a development plan for people to move up in your organisation.

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How can we stop employees becoming disengaged with constant change?

by Ben Hawkins on 23 Jul 2018

Engagement is often the overlooked pillar of successful business transformation. But why does it matter? The clear answer is that people are the ones that make change happen, and if they’re not engaged, the change programme simply won’t deliver.

The trouble is, change is a constant in today’s business environment. Unless people understand the need for organisations to consistently look for ways to improve, they can become tired of always having to flex and adapt.

BIE’s annual transformation survey revealed that this is already a challenge for many organisations. 47% of senior executives who responded to the survey said that their company’s employees were becoming disengaged with change.

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How do you get the experience to become CFO?

by Simon Moore on 16 Jul 2018

As we explored in a recent post, the development of finance specialisms means organisations are at risk of not being able to find someone rounded enough to become CFO.

In a PLC environment, unless you have previously been a CFO of a listed company, the shareholders are wary of anyone being promoted internally because they are worried they don’t have the necessary experience. Additionally, in a PE environment, if you haven’t been the CFO of a PE-backed business, PE houses don’t want to talk to you.

So how can organisations find a better balance between breadth and expertise across all financial disciplines, to allow senior finance executives to step up into the number 1 role?

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Are finance specialisms hindering succession planning?

by Simon Moore on 09 Jul 2018

In a recent survey by BIE, 43% of respondents felt that the development of specialisms within finance was hindering CFO succession planning.

This highlights a challenge for the future leaders of finance in today’s heavily siloed business environment. They need to find a balance between specialising in a financial discipline and getting broad exposure across all aspects of the function in order to develop more rounded experience necessary to progress to the top.

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Why external talent is so valuable in delivering step change

by Ben Hawkins on 02 Jul 2018

BIE’s Business Transformation Survey 2018 revealed that on average, 25% of an organisation’s transformation team is made up of external talent.

So why is external talent so valuable in delivering step change? And what role does external talent play in business transformation?

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6 signs your business may need an interim manager

by Marty Jaynes on 25 Jun 2018

Interim managers are an indispensable resource for organisations seeking to adapt and change. They have been used successfully by organisations across all industries and all job functions throughout the UK and globally.

Interim managers are commissioned at a senior level on an assignment basis and take the lead on vital projects that may be outside the skill set of the current team. A typical assignment can last between three and twelve months depending on the complexity and nature of the business requirement.

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How to land bigger and better opportunities as an interim

by Emma-Claire Kavanagh on 18 Jun 2018

This topic comes from two of our newsletter subscribers, who asked us to write an article on "career management for seasoned Interims. How to grow and take on bigger new roles not done before" and  "how interims should be proactive to fill their sales funnels".

Interim managers typically combine depth and breadth of expertise in their chosen sectors and discipline. But what happens when you want to work in a new sector, in a different location, or on a different type of project? Or when you just want something new?

Are these opportunities available?

In the end, the most successful career interims at the senior end are good because they have broad experience that makes them more marketable. So how do you ensure the doors to these opportunities are open?

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Money doesn't always incentivise employees during transformation

by Ben Hawkins on 12 Jun 2018

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don't want to.”
Richard Branson

Employee engagement
is one of the fundamental pillars of a successful business transformation programme.

But how do you keep employees motivated while going through change? Especially when delivery of the transformation may mean they lose their jobs?

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The tipping point for investing in HR

by Hilary Pearl on 04 Jun 2018

When a business is first starting out, developing an HR function isn’t on the agenda. And nor does it need to be. But even in some small to medium-sized businesses with up to 250 employees, HR can be overlooked.

But what happens when organisations do recognise the need to invest in HR? Where do they start with putting it in place? And what role can interims play?

In this blog post, HR interim Hilary Pearl discusses the tipping point for businesses, what needs to be put in place from an HR perspective, and what skills are needed to be effective.

The HR tipping point

When a business is small; when the CEO knows everybody and everybody knows them, there’s a real personal feel to the company. But when a business starts to grow, it can begin to lose some of that intimate feel, and it becomes harder to run as a small company.

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The nature of transformation

by Ben Hawkins on 29 May 2018

In our recent business transformation survey, an overwhelming 80% of senior executives said that their organisation is currently undergoing a business transformation of some nature.

The vast majority of these transformation programmes were being driven by a need to become more efficient (58%) or to reduce costs (43%).

But what is the nature of these transformations?

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Transformation buying has matured

by Ben Hawkins on 21 May 2018

20 years ago, people didn’t understand what transformation was, and an organisation certainly wouldn’t have had a permanent transformation director in their company.

Now, people understand the requirement for a centralised transformation area, and it’s almost unheard of for a company not to have a transformation director.

This means that transformation maturity inside organisations has grown. People now have a better understanding of how to deliver transformation projects.

As a result, organisations are looking to build more internal talent to deliver business transformation. Our recent survey on transformation showed that 62% of companies wanted to build more internal transformation capability.

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Boosting your bottom line through embracing gender diversity

by Janet Musgrave on 14 May 2018

Research tells us that embracing gender diversity at the senior level delivers business benefits. But what’s behind the noise? Do we really know what works, and does it really matter?

This was the topic of discussion at a round-table event held at BIE offices last month. The event was co-hosted by BIE and The Pipeline’s Margaret McDonagh, who shared insights based on her experience of working with senior women to develop their careers and with organisations to create the environment to make this happen.

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Talent strategies for managing a multi-generational workforce

by Janet Musgrave on 08 May 2018

We are facing a period of significant change regarding demographics at work, with five generations in the workplace becoming a reality for many organisations across the globe.

There are the Silent Generation, now in their 70s and 80s; the Baby Boomers, spanning from their mid-50s up to 70; and Generation X, currently in their mid-30s to mid-50s. Then there are the Gen Y ‘Millennials’, aged between 21 and 33 - a tech-savvy, highly connected and high-achieving cohort with very different workplace behaviours and expectations to the generations before them. And now Gen Z - the under 20’s - are making their way into organisations. This latest group to enter the workplace are not just digital natives, but mobile natives, and bring with them yet another fresh perspective.

The breadth of generations in the workplace has huge implications for employers in terms of managing their differing needs, expectations and ways of thinking.

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Creating a forward-thinking leadership team

by Robert Leeming on 30 Apr 2018

Short-termism is an executive’s worst enemy. According to Nicky Pattimore, Portfolio Director for People and Culture at the AA, it’s understandable why they want to focus on their own immediate priorities, but it invariably results in driving “the leadership’s siloed mentality downwards into the rest of the organisation”.

It’s something that cannot be allowed to happen. “When senior leaders become too drawn into what is impacting only them, they stop listening to and communicating with others in the organisation,” she adds.  

This view is supported by a recent poll conducted by Criticaleye, which found that 60 percent of C-suite respondents thought leadership teams are too focused on tactical goals. Similarly, 73 percent said the behaviours of leadership teams reinforce silos within organisations, and 88 percent felt this had a negative impact on business performance.  

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7 skills needed to keep pace in business transformation

by Marty Jaynes on 23 Apr 2018

The success of business transformation is often underpinned by timing and pace.

Recognising the need for change and knowing when to take action is key. However, often by the time you realise you’re in trouble, you’re probably in deeper than you think. When this happens, you need to make transformation a priority.

And while change is normally slow and organic, transformation often involves getting five years of change done in half the time. So it’s important to build this pace expectation into the transformation process.

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The 4 qualities of transformational leaders

by Marty Jaynes on 16 Apr 2018

Having a leader who is prepared to take responsibility for implementing transformation is one thing, but never underestimate the importance of a leader who knows what qualities are required to lead one, and which ones he or she has.

Most of the technical aspects of a transformation, such as governance and stakeholder engagement, can be to some extent learned. But the genuine leadership qualities that make up a transformational leadership style – the type that can empower, motivate and win hearts and minds, are paramount for any business going through a significant change or transition period.

So what are the key qualities of a transformational leader? And why are they so important when driving business transformation?

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How can people science drive credible business decisions?

by Emma-Claire Kavanagh on 06 Apr 2018

We’re probably in the biggest work change context we’ve ever been in. Technology advances, globalisation, the political climate, and changes in the social demographics of the workplace are all factors currently impacting on organisations in every sector.

In this environment, people science is emerging as a new focus. But it goes beyond HR. Organisations are starting to apply data science to help make decisions across their entire business.

In a recent roundtable breakfast meeting co-hosted by BIE and Sage People, we discussed this subject in depth. In this blog post, we put forward some of the most interesting insights from the discussion.

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Reviewing your top team as a new CEO

by Rob Walker on 21 Mar 2018

A new CEO will often enter a business with a 100-day plan, and this will include reviewing their top team. Rob Walker, CEO of BIE Executive, offers advice on how to go about this. Emma Riddell asks the questions.

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Innovation Hubs: the solution for accelerating business innovation?

by Alastair Lechler on 13 Mar 2018

Innovation has joined the business language lexicon. But it has a wide range of meanings; from small incremental changes, to a customer proposition or business processes, to a full business transformation.

For many people, the idea of innovation can be challenging with many unknowns. And often the largest unknown will be what scale of investment is required to deliver guaranteed outcomes.

In a previous post we looked at the fast follower approach to innovation. In this post, Caroline Thomas, Data Revenue Consultant at News UK, and I look at how organisations are increasingly adopting innovation hubs to drive innovation.

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The role of the CFO in business transformation

by Simon Moore on 02 Mar 2018

Chief Financial Officers are finding themselves at the epicentre of large-scale transformation and therefore need to be the conscience of the business when going through this transformation. They have to understand and allow it to happen; yet, at the same time, make sure that a company’s balance sheet can afford it.

It can be a difficult role, acting as both the accelerator and the brake. Traditionally, many CFOs don’t necessarily feel they are trained appropriately to be aware of the longevity of business transformation. Much of the time, the stop button is pressed at just the point when it’s gathering momentum and the end is in sight.

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Business innovation: pros and cons of the Fast Follower approach

by Alastair Lechler on 23 Feb 2018

In a recent post, we discussed how organisations are increasingly finding success in taking a more proactive approach to innovation.

In the first of a series of blog posts where we take a look at some of the approaches organisations are using to make them more innovative, Andy McWilliams, Digital Consultant at RICS, and I discuss the pros and cons of the 'Fast Follower' approach.

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Can you get a job in a different industry? Q&A with BIE consultants

by Marty Jaynes on 16 Feb 2018

The decision to change jobs and move to a different industry can be daunting. How do you sell yourself into a new industry? And how open are organisations to hiring candidates from outside of their industry?

In this blog, I talk with some of our consultants recruiting in the finance, HR, supply chain and transformation sectors to discuss this topic.

It was clear that certain themes resonated with everyone, regardless of the sector they recruit for.

The idea of transferable skills was bounced around a lot. To move into a different industry you need to be able to demonstrate you have the appropriate skill set to apply to the environment you’re looking to move into.

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Is 2018 the year to embed more innovative ways of working?

by Alastair Lechler on 06 Feb 2018

What does 2018 hold in store for you and your organisation? Is innovation on the agenda? What does innovation mean to you? Could artificial intelligence transform your operating model? And is there unlocked potential sitting dormant, waiting to be unlocked, in your workforce?

Certainly, there is potential for fresh approaches, challenges to existing thinking and ways of working, and scope to embrace change. Will you challenge traditional thinking? And how equipped are you and your team to innovate?

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Eoin Canty joins BIE Executive's Finance Practice

by Marty Jaynes on 29 Jan 2018

BIE Executive is delighted to welcome Eoin Canty to their Finance Practice.

Eoin joins as a Consultant, after 15 years’ experience in the finance profession, most recently at Kingfisher plc, where he held various commercial finance positions, as well as Group Head of FP&A. He will be focusing on supporting BIE’s executive search capability across the finance function.

His appointment is fundamental to increasing BIE’s ability to use a mix of consulting, interim management and executive search services, to provide expertise and talent to support organisations deliver transformation programmes that leave a positive legacy in order to achieve continuous growth and success.

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Tackling the workplace presenteeism problem

by Marty Jaynes on 29 Jan 2018

Workplace presenteeism - employees turning up to work when suffering from illness or health problems - is not a new phenomenon. 

We’ve all been there. Whether because of a looming deadline, large workloads or because we fear how calling in sick would be perceived by management, we’ve all had days where we are at work, but are actually not really there at all.

But despite their best intentions, employees coming into work when unwell are contributing to the rise of presenteeism in the UK. And though absenteeism, which refers to the practice of staying away from work for no good reason, can be costly for businesses, presenteeism is believed to be an even bigger problem.

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Business transformation: the need to focus on delivery and legacy

by Marty Jaynes on 23 Jan 2018

Business transformation is getting smarter.

In a world where change is the norm, organisations are increasingly looking for ways to become more agile to keep up with the pace. As a result, the organisations that traditionally help them face these challenges are having to adapt as well.

This is welcome news for businesses. It’s a long-standing trend that few executives say their companies' transformations succeed. In fact, 70% of business transformation projects fail, according to McKinsey & Company.

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What digital transformation means in 2018

by Alastair Lechler on 16 Jan 2018

In the grand scheme of things, 10 years isn’t a long time. However, when you think about how much technology has advanced in that time, it’s an eternity.

Back in 2008, Google Chrome had just launched and social media platforms were only starting to hit the mainstream. Since then, crowd-sourced funding, 3D scanning, wearable technology, cloud computing, and electric and self-driving cars have all become reality. We’ve seen the emergence of tablet PCs, 3D TV’s, sharing economy-based apps, and even the beginning of gene editing trials.

So it’s safe to say that a lot has changed in the last decade.

And just as technology has evolved, so has the definition of digital transformation.

How digital transformation has evolved

We used to think of ‘digital’ as ‘IT’, and digital transformation used to mean just that; building digital channels and computerising processes.

Today, digital is driving strategies. All departments from HR, to Finance, to Marketing, are looking for digital solutions to make operations better, faster, or cheaper. Technology supports our business processes and functions, boosts productivity and team collaboration, and improves our connectedness with customers.

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2017 in review - 5 most viewed BIE blog posts

by Marty Jaynes on 27 Dec 2017

Happy holidays! We hope you are having a great break and are looking forward to an exciting and prosperous 2018.

Here at BIE we’ve been taking a look back at the most viewed blog posts from 2017.

In case you happened to miss any, here is a recap of the top five.

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5 tips for leading transformation

by Marc Barber on 20 Dec 2017

Large-scale change is destined to fail when executives allow it to become an end in itself and forget what’s most important for the business. “You have to be very aware of customers during the transformation process; you must not let them down,” comments Paul Lester, Chairman of Essentra and former CEO of VT Group.

There are myriad examples of executives becoming so fixated on synergies and dramatic cost savings that it requires a second large-scale transformation for a business to regain its strategic focus. “I’ve seen it happen where the customer suffers because of an integration or an acquisition,” adds Paul.

It’s of paramount importance that the overall objective is clearly understood. Phillippa Crookes, Senior Relationship Manager at Criticaleye, who supports executives in their efforts to execute transformation, says: “For complex change programmes to succeed, there must be real energy, enthusiasm and clarity across the senior leadership team. They need to recognise and celebrate when milestones have been reached, while also being mature enough to hold frank and candid conversations during the more challenging times.  

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What’s on the CFO's mind?

by Simon Moore on 15 Dec 2017

Recently our Finance team hosted a roundtable dinner discussion with a number of CFOs within our BIE Community. The discussion led to some stimulating debate and it was clear that certain themes resonated with everyone around the table, regardless of their sector.

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Ask and you shall receive

by Simon Moore on 06 Dec 2017

The demands on business leaders to deliver economic efficiency and effectiveness is ever increasing. In today’s often relentless, fast-paced environment, the ability to ask the right questions to ensure the right level of engagement when delivering change is an integral ingredient of success.

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How to improve the success of your M&A business transformation

by Steve Arrow on 29 Nov 2017

Change affects each of us differently. Some people thrive on it, some are unsettled by it, and others resist it entirely. And when it’s imposed on us, we often have our most extreme reactions.

In our working lives, going through a large-scale business transformation, like a merger or acquisition, is likely one of the most severe change environments that we will face. How it is handled by the leaders running the programme can have a significant impact on how well the employees react, and therefore how successful the process is.

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How the thriving gig economy supports interim management

by Marty Jaynes on 29 Nov 2017

The freelance market is gaining considerable momentum. With contractors projected to make up 43% of the workforce by 2020 (compared with 6% in 1989), the desire to shift from traditional full-time roles is on the rise.

The gig economy, or ‘connected market’ as it’s often known, is set to be worth £43bn globally by 2020, according to PwC research.

The marketplace itself is becoming more tolerant of the temporary role, not least because of the larger pool of freelancers and contractors it creates, but also the transitory attitude of the modern worker.

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A guide to creating your own business transformation framework

by Rose Padfield on 08 Nov 2017

In an earlier blog, we shared with you a case study in which an organisation had successfully implemented a business transformation framework that enabled large scale organisational change. 

In this follow-on blog, we share with you some of the questions that should arise when embarking on your own business transformation: a practical “cut-out-and-keep” guide to creating your framework, again written by Rose Padfield from the Padfield Partnership.

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Keeping your senior leadership team aligned

by Robert Leeming on 24 Oct 2017

Alignment in the senior leadership team is only of value if a chief executive is open to debate and discussion. Anything less and an ‘aligned top team’ will merely serve as shorthand for a group of executives who either meekly obey a CEO’s every whim and command, or who nod politely and then pursue their own agendas.

It’s not a sustainable way to operate a business. Phillippa Crookes, Senior Relationship Manager at Criticaleye, comments: “The worst situation for a CEO is to think their leadership team is presenting a unified front, when in reality they are sowing seeds of dissent in the organisation.”

This inevitably has a negative effect on performance, as it results in a disconnect between strategy and execution.

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Should we welcome the decline in quarterly reporting?

by John O'Connor on 18 Oct 2017

Recent analysis shows that the majority of FTSE 250 organisations no longer submit quarterly reports. Is this a sign of increasing focus on long-term planning or simply the avoidance of an ultimately pointless exercise and administrative burden?

There have been numerous articles, reports and commentaries on this topic, often focusing mainly on the external market perception or reaction. I believe however that we need to look deeper and focus much more on how these requirements, in force between 2007 and 2015, affected not just results, but culture.

They are familiar headlines to all of us – ‘Company X sees record quarterly growth’ or ‘Company Y sees quarterly profits plunge’, swiftly followed by numerous opinion pieces outlining why things are going right or wrong. Is the decline in reporting every three months a wise move though? The FCA certainly thinks so, moving to drop the requirement in 2015, albeit somewhat quietly, after a consultation period.

The response to whether the requirement should be dropped was broadly positive, but will it really relieve pressure on businesses and ultimately help to solve the UK’s productivity conundrum? Many are doubtful to say the least.

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Automation technologies: what do they mean for HR?

by Chris McKibbin on 04 Oct 2017

Previously in this mini blog series, we've looked at the reality of HR automation and what this means for the workforce. And it's becoming clear that automation technologies present two alternative futures. One, a gentle relocating of effort in line with how things are done today. Two, a more fundamental reshaping of the current working paradigm - one that’s not just about replacing today’s processes with robots but about renewing and re-imagining the way things are done.

Both possibilities form a close alignment with strategic leadership, business transformation, improvement plans, and IT colleagues.

Of course, it’s the people, not the technology who are at the centre of this opportunity.

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Automation technologies: what do they mean for the workforce?

by Chris McKibbin on 27 Sep 2017

With the influx of automation technologies, we find ourselves continually surrounded by screaming headlines:

Analysts and consulting firms (and maybe divorce lawyers!) smell blood in this new wave of revenue generation panic.

I see more and more organisations looking for the kind of skills to transform organisations’ operational delivery. Similarly, they’re looking for leaders who can help their workforce through a fundamental shift in how they operate and deliver their services. It’s clear that organisations themselves believe this gear-shift is real, so are these the classic traits of a self-fulfilling prophecy?

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The reality of HR automation

by Chris McKibbin on 20 Sep 2017

It’s time for some clarity around the definition of HR automation. A fundamental component in daily HR operations, ERPs, applicant tracking systems, case management software and chatbots, automation has always been a part of the transformation mix.

However in reality, automation is often a badly defined term, as the concept itself is broad ranging. So in an attempt to establish some clarity ahead of my next couple of blogs on HR automation, here's a bit of a breakdown.

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5 key steps to negotiating your next senior executive contract

by John O'Connor on 08 Sep 2017

Any new senior management role, whether lateral in nature or on the more traditional "straight and narrow" route, brings with it a new opportunity to negotiate your salary and compensation. If you're already at senior management or C-Suite level then you've clearly demonstrated your superior negotiation skills. And yet for even the most experienced managers, the prospect of negotiating can still feel surprisingly uncomfortable, unnerving or even overwhelming.

So what's best practice if you are planning to handle negotiation of your executive contract yourself? In this blog post I highlight five key strategies to ensure you secure the best possible outcome.

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Executive recruitment: the benefits of a lateral career path

by John O'Connor on 31 Aug 2017

Within the world of interim management, the sideways or lateral career move is often inherent in the nature of the job, as interims transfer skills across a potentially wide range of industries and within typically shorter-term roles.

But what about lateral career movement for those management executives at CEO, CFO or HR director level? Is the most successful and effective route to the top still the traditionally vertical one? Or can a lateral move offer a viable, or perhaps even a preferable, alternative?

In this blog post I explore the key differences between a lateral vs vertical career path and I identify the core professional attributes that will prove invaluable for any senior management professional considering a lateral career move.

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6 current themes in organisation design

by Steve Arrow on 17 Aug 2017

Over the past few months I have seen an influx of requirements from clients who are looking for individuals with strong organisation design skills. The ability to apply various organisation design approaches is an invaluable resource for businesses as they look to keep up with the accelerating pace of strategic change and align their structure appropriately.

So, as businesses look at bringing in external capability to adapt and transform their target operating models, these are the most common themes that I've found emerging. 

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Are all the top executive appointments only in London?

by John O'Connor on 09 Aug 2017

An age-old question in UK executive search and interim management circles is whether the best jobs, and therefore the best executive talent, exist solely in London. Most of us would find that statement questionable in 2017, but the perception remains.

So if you're a talented CFO do you have to remain in London to have a vibrant, challenging career? And, if you're a great company outside of London, how do you access and attract the best people to your leadership team?

In this blog I talk with Simon Reilly, the Commercial Director and Deputy CFO at Scotia Gas Networks (SGN), about his new role at their headquarters in Horley.

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Janet Musgrave joins BIE Executive's HR practice

by Marty Jaynes on 02 Aug 2017

BIE Executive, a leading consultancy working with businesses going through change, is delighted to welcome Janet Musgrave to their HR Practice.

Musgrave joins as a Director, after an extensive career as a senior HR leader, followed by 10 years’ experience in HR executive search. She will be focusing on delivering BIE’s executive search capability across the HR function.

Her appointment is fundamental to increasing BIE’s ability to use a mix of business consulting, interim management and executive search services, to provide expertise and talent to support organisations deliver their transformation programmes that leave a positive legacy in order to achieve continuous growth and success.

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7 things to consider when selecting a cloud-based HR system

by Steve Arrow on 02 Aug 2017

A new generation of cloud-based HR information systems (HRIS) are shaking up the way businesses manage their people and processes. Providers like Workday and SuccessFactors are becoming increasingly popular and taking market share from traditional on-premise solutions, particularly amongst small to midsize businesses. And there has been an explosion of smaller providers looking to innovate in this space.

Choosing a new HR system for your business is challenging, especially if seeking a cloud-based solution for the first time. You are likely to be overwhelmed by the multitude of options available. Gartner have created a lot of content on this topic, and you’ll be sure to find some good pointers from them on the best solutions.

But it’s not ‘one size fits all’. The right HRIS solution for your business will depend on the type of organisation you are, your global footprint, and the mix of employees you have - full time, part time, contingent workers.

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Insights from an HR transformation journey

by Emma-Claire Kavanagh on 21 Jul 2017

BIE’s HR Team were privileged to recently be joined by a room full of senior HR leaders to listen to the HR Director and HR Transformation Programme Director of a large UK multimedia company as they delivered an insightful and enlightening presentation on the journey they had been on throughout their company's two year HR transformation.

Below is a top-line summary of what was presented.

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Organisational Change Starts with Self – Are You Up for That?

by Emma-Claire Kavanagh on 12 Jul 2017

We’ve all heard that change is the new norm, but are we now skilled at enabling it? Large-scale transformational change requires catalytic leadership skills and vision. This can be hard to do when juggling the day job with its typically short term, urgent timeframes.

Rose Padfield from The Padfield Partnership is an Organisational Design Consultant, Coach and Coach Supervisor with 20 years’ experience in organisation, team and individual development within a UK, European and global context.

Outlined below is a case study on how Rose helped a major UK organisation address a large transformation project. We hope it gives you some insights and food for thought. In subsequent articles, she will delve into some of the key principles involved in leading organisational change.

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A Pivotal Point for Shared-Services

by Tim J. Roberts on 19 Jun 2017

“A pivot is a change in strategy without a change in vision”. Are we now approaching a pivotal point for shared-services and offshoring?

We are seeing a growing increase in the use of robotic automation in the office workplace. 

For many countries the impact of globalisation has led to an increased focus on creating jobs at home rather than abroad. 

It would be prudent for us to “hit the pause button” and consider where we go from here.

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Cyber security essentials for boards and senior management

by Kersty Bletso on 09 Jun 2017

Cyber attacks are becoming more commonplace, and companies can no longer bury their heads in the sand, hoping no one breaches their internal IT security in today’s digital global workplace. Therefore, I’ve asked Simon Jobson, a technology leader with 25 years’ experience managing digital transformations in complex, international listed and private companies, to discuss cyber security essentials for boards and senior management.

I have had many conversations with board members and senior executives on the subject of information security (or cyber security). One of the more common sentiments I have come across is the view that “if someone wants to get in they will” or “they are probably already in anyway”. It’s understandable that high-profile attacks can make us feel helpless. However, the reality is that regulators, investors and customers will pass judgement, and if senior management and boards are lax then the company will suffer.

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Why your business needs to get personal data under control today

by Simon Cordrey on 30 May 2017

A topic that is popping up more and more in many of the meetings I am having these days have been around how companies are readying themselves for the impact of GDPR. What questions are they asking, what are their pain points, are they dealing with it internally or have they got someone external to come in to assess their level of compliance?

With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to get an expert's opinion on the topic from one of our Associate Partners, James Stevens. James is a European Distribution Big Data and Analytics Leader and has a background in data, through working as a Partner for IBM. Below are his thoughts on why your business needs to get personal data under control today:

Businesses have been talking about data, big data, Hadoop, R and many different aspects of data for years. Big Data is big business but more importantly, Big Data is about to become “Big Risk” like never before.

We have all seen the news and media storms that occur when organisations publicly lose data, and the impact that has on the businesses involved. In the UK this has been covered by the Data Protection Act but there is a new kid in town, GDPR, and it has teeth!

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Career progression: Why you shouldn’t change your job

by Kersty Bletso on 26 May 2017

This statement might seem a little counterintuitive considering the role I perform but do bear with me.

As a recruiter I want to know that by the time you reach out to me that the reason you want to leave is a) genuine, and b) not a knee jerk reaction to something that has upset you. Are you looking for career development? Progression? The opportunity to test yourself in a new environment or sector? Or have you finished a period of transformation?

What is important to consider is that when you are unhappy in your role it is a lot easier to start looking for another job than to try and resolve the issues you may have. It is human nature to avoid confrontation and avoid possible rejection. However, regardless of your level within your business, where possible you should try to resolve the issues you have first.

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by Marty Jaynes on 08 May 2017

BIE Executive, a leading consultancy working with businesses going through change, has announced that its executive leadership team, led by CEO Rob Walker, have completed a management buyout of the business.

The business has enjoyed a highly successful and profitable period since its previous buyout four years ago, growing turnover by 20%, creating a very strong platform on which to build.

Commenting on the buyout and plans for the business, Rob Walker said, “When we partnered with Barclays four years ago, the aim was to bring a carefully considered, clearly defined proposition to market, focusing on organisations who are going through change. Through the loyal support of our client base and candidate pool we have been able to achieve this.

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The 12 Commandments of Interim Management

by Alastair Lechler on 05 May 2017


With the shift to more of a gig economy, increasing numbers of people are exploring a new direction and switching to an interim or independent career. Organisations are dealing with more rapid change and increased competition, meaning quick access to highly skilled, flexible talent has never been more important.

We’ve already covered the career and lifestyle considerations you need to make when thinking about changing to interim management. But what about the practicalities of the job? A long time contact of mine, Nick Tree, is a seasoned interim manager who thrives in pressurised situations, where he needs to hit the ground running and quickly mobilise change programmes. Nick has kindly compiled for BIE his ‘12 Commandments’ for anyone looking to make the switch. Here they are: 

1. Experience
Ensure you have extensive experience and a track record of successful achievement in your chosen field of expertise. Clients will usually expect you to be a highly qualified, subject-matter expert when they hire you!

2. CV

Produce a full-data CV that will clearly illustrate to prospective clients where you gained your experience and what your achievements were. Don’t worry if it extends to several pages. Warning! Be factual, truthful and prepared to be interviewed about those achievements in more depth.
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5 ways to prepare yourself for life as an Interim Executive

by Marty Jaynes on 27 Apr 2017

Have you always wanted to explore the world of interim work, but felt it was like temping at management level? Or maybe you just weren't sure how to make the switch from a permanent position? Being an interim executive does require a specific set of skills and a particular temperament, but for those who actively choose it and who suit the ups and downs of the job, it can be an extremely fulfilling career – and lifestyle.

I recently sat down with a couple of BIE consultants to discuss what they felt were the key points you should understand if becoming an interim is a career you’d like to explore. It’s a unique role, and there are some things you should know and do to prepare yourself for it.

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by Marty Jaynes on 28 Mar 2017

BIE Executive, a leading consultancy working with businesses going through change, is delighted to welcome back Alastair Lechler as Director, Business Transformation.

Lechler re-joins after stints with another leading interim provider and his own digital start-up. As BIE's Director, Business Transformation, Alastair will be working with FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies to support their talent management requirements, as they implement large scale, complex transformation programmes.

Ben Hawkins, Executive Director, Business Transformation commented: "I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Alastair back into the BIE family.

"Culturally, we have built a really great place to work, our proposition is really resonating with the market, and we have some fantastic client relationships that are proving successful. Alastair epitomises our values and beliefs as a business and really puts BIE in a position of strength in the market."

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How to get yourself noticed by a recruiter

by Kersty Bletso on 22 Mar 2017

I recently had lunch with someone I have just placed and the conversation turned to how I identify candidates and what he could do to get himself noticed by recruiters for his next role. So, we discussed the process that occurs behind the scenes.  

My world as a recruiter 

Regardless of the role and the way in which my client has chosen to engage (search, interim, contingent), I always go to my network first. I start by asking myself the questions:

  1. Who have I met with?
  2. Who have I worked with?

I'll then send an SOS on LinkedIn to my community and I'll also engage my colleagues and their communities. Working in a boutique firm and having a network of former colleagues and respected senior recruiters, we often recommend high calibre candidates to one another (which does not happen in bigger businesses).

This seems obvious, but I would rather place someone that I have met with and already have some semblance of a relationship with. It offers a level of assurance around their character and capability. If there is a relationship in place there will hopefully be mutual levels of trust and respect, as well as a knowledge of working practices and approaches.

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What rugby has taught me about team ethos and leadership

by Kersty Bletso on 14 Mar 2017


Saturday was one of those rugby games that had so much potential. The prospect of Scotland breaking a 34-year-old Twickenham curse was painfully tangible and the opportunity was one that was lost within the first five minutes of the game. It set the stage for the next 75. A team of individuals focused on personal performance vs. a splendid display of teamwork and selfless play.

I am lucky to have spent the last 12 years living with, and now married to, a (former) professional rugby player. He has taught me a huge amount about team ethos and leadership that I haven't necessarily come across in the books and articles that I've read.

Maybe it is just the way he tells me the stories and anecdotes, or perhaps it's that elusive sense of team that we so often strive for in business, but rarely achieve, that draws me to his tales like a moth to a flame.

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People, people, people – start-up recruitment

by Andrew Cunningham on 06 Mar 2017

There are three things that matter in a start-up: people, people, people. The right team, with the right skills, experience and contacts will have a greater chance of success. 

We know the VC view of management teams:

"Quite simply, management is, by far and away, the most important factor that smart investors take into consideration. VCs invest in a management team and its ability to execute on the business plan, first and foremost." (Source: Investopedia

"I look for great teams, because they can create outstanding returns as well as save your bacon in tough situations." (Source: Bloomberg)

As management teams, we also know the importance of hiring quality people for outsized performance. However, we often neglect how we can improve our chances of finding and attracting the very best. Finding the right people is important. People are the single largest cost - for most companies, they usually account for around two thirds of all costs. If there is only one process you do well in a company, it should be the recruitment process.

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Organisational change should be a four letter word

by Andrew Cunningham on 27 Feb 2017

For many managers change is at the heart of what they do change a process, change team roles/ capabilities, change/ develop individuals, change products/ services, change targets, change target customers; change, change, change. Change is often at the core of the biggest challenges we face at work and can help make or break a career.  

With organisational change being so important, how come change programmes are as successful as M&A transactions, with a failure rate of 60-70 per cent? 

Somehow, change has gotten mixed up with leadership and many think all you need is awesome leadership skills, a plan and it is all going to be ok. Others say you need to create an "event" or "burning platform"; to "burn the lifeboats" and force it through. The first is a recipe for failure, and the second will work with some people some of the time but generally they are going to be very unhappy. There is going to be a lot of blood on the floor (probably yours) and the quality of the outcome can be worse than what you had at the start.

You can read Harvard Business Review articles on change, but the most famous one could have been written by a first year business student. So, is there a better way?

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Why your workplace culture is everything

by Andrew Cunningham on 15 Feb 2017

Workplace culture is not foosball, table tennis, or pizza on Friday. Culture is who you are as a company and how it really operates and what it really cares about. The company may have a purpose but it is the culture that makes it happen. If you are a Simon Sinek fan and believe in the "Why? How? What?" steps, then culture is the key component of the "How?" you are going to do things.

In a globalised economy with free movement of capital and online services, and an increasingly mobile talent pool, culture becomes an even more important differentiator and medium to long term strategic advantage. Would you be happier and more productive in a start up using old doors as desks, or would you like a big salary wearing a suit, loathing your colleagues and devoid of purpose? It doesn't have to be an either/ or but it does illustrate the trade offs many make to work in an environment they enjoy.

Active management of culture is particularly important in fast growth companies. If you are doubling the headcount each year, you are bringing in a lot of new ways of how things get done, how to communicate, how people are treated and how decisions are made. Without active management a culture will grow organically and so often becomes different by team or group, which reduces cooperation, communication and staying focused on the company's purpose. The culture may also grow in ways which aren't compatible with what you want and leaves you asking questions as to why things aren't getting done correctly, quickly, or efficiently. It is better to start too early on building a culture as changing one is so much more difficult than setting one up.

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Creative Expression and Successful Business Transformation

by Leon Labovitch on 13 Feb 2017

Among the Eight Pillars of Change described in prior articles, the focus in this edition is on the important sixth pillar: "Opportunities for creative expression".                                                                           

We are all creative, but do we use creative expression to its full extent in delivering change and transformation? Indeed, why should we focus on creativity when a rational approach may seem most sensible? 

The first three pillars are: agree a high-level plan, a business model for the new world, and develop toolkits. All of these could be regarded as "left brain" actions, based on logic, good judgment and a solid appreciation of strategy – the essential qualities of all transformation managers.

However, it's when we arrive at the next "human" pillars – engagement, resistance, creative expression, and culture - that creativity (and "right-brain" actions) comes to the fore.

Planning is essential, but it's people who make change happen - and we need to appeal to everyone via all the senses to get emotional buy in and change to new ways of working (Pillar 8 – make change happen).

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Yet more advice about CV writing

by Kersty Bletso on 09 Feb 2017

I have to be honest, I hate CVs really, really, hate them.

I have seen hundreds of thousands that tell me nothing; that are full of regurgitated methodologies, copied job descriptions, and vacuous, unsubstantiated statements that tell me nothing about the person or what they have achieved. I have seen a multitude of CVs that have clearly not been written by the person presenting them: vague, impersonal detritus.

But, until we have full individual digital portfolios with vlogs, case studies, references and podcasts, we are somewhat saddled with the CV.

So, what are some best practice tips for CV writing that will get you noticed?

When it comes to trying to write your CV, the only certainty is that everyone will have a view on what a good one should look like and what it should contain. Get 20 recruiters in a room and you will get at least 40 points of view, which makes it difficult to know what to write to get noticed.

With this in mind, I thought I would give my view on where to start, so that the inevitable reworks are just a little bit easier!

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Interim thoughts: How to bring about change using interim managers

by Nigel Batty on 06 Feb 2017

A FTSE100 change management director reflects on three years of involvement in a complex, global shared services programme.

Talking with my peers, I hear among the war stories some very different experiences of working with interim managers. These range from the sublime to the disastrous. This is my personal view of the benefits and critical success factors, based on my experience of leading the establishment of a global change management team over three years.

To set the scene, I was working in a global FMCG business with more than 150,000 employees and an ambitious growth agenda. The business had a strong track record of driving transformation, having implemented SAP and outsourced significant elements of its back-office services. In 2010, the business took a step change decision to create an integrated group organisation covering all aspects of global employee services; everything from recruitment to room booking, from IT to invoice management.

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What are the benefits of interim executives?

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 30 Jan 2017

Interim executives have been used successfully across all industries at group and divisional level in public, private and family businesses, as well as public sector organisations and across all job functions throughout the UK and globally. 

Whether an organisation is undergoing turnaround, transformation, or another type of change programme, an interim can take the lead on vital projects that may be outside the skillset of the current team. 

In this post, we will explore the benefits of interims and look at how you might become one. 

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Engagement - the missed pillar of successful business transformation

by Leon Labovitch on 23 Jan 2017

We are engaged when we do things differently. Among the Eight Pillars of Change described in prior articles, the focus in this edition is on Pillar 4: "Engagement is key."

Why would one devote a pillar entirely to engagement? The clear answer is that people are the ones who make change happen and if they're not engaged, the change programme simply won't deliver. The challenging anomaly is that business often sees policy and projects as the transformation itself, with a consequent blind spot in engaging people. The pillar name, "Engagement is key" cannot be overstated.

For importance on a world stage, one suspects that the slow pace in readying for climate change (mentioned recently by the economist Lord Stern), may be due to little focus on "human factors", which are required to bring about world-wide adoption of these large changes. A classic case, also, was the disastrous failure to engage protagonists in reconstruction after the 2003 Gulf War - and one fears that Brexit may also be run as a technical and policy exercise, leading to poor engagement and jeopardising success of this important transformation across the country and further afield.

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The importance of purpose in successful business transformation

by Leon Labovitch on 16 Jan 2017

We all are motivated - by work, family, pastimes, sport. If we have a spring in our step in the morning, if we get off the train for work "like a startled gazelle", if we're motivated by what we do, then we're more likely to be successful.

Clarifying the motivating purpose of our work seems an obvious endeavour, but many companies fail to capture their identity and "essence". As a result, staff are confused about what their organisation stands for, resulting in a great loss of cohesion, energy and success.

This is the second in a series of articles looking at The Eight Pillars of Change, which are markers to help organisations through their change, growth and development; to help them achieve successful business transformation

Underpinning Pillar 1 (Agree a high-level plan) and Pillar 2 (A business model for the new world) is the need to state the purpose or strategic narrative of an organisation or business. This is to help distinguish the company from the competition, engage staff, and excel.

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What is an interim executive and what does "good" look like?

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 09 Jan 2017

Permanent contracts remain dominant in business but, in a disrupted environment, interim executives are an indispensable resource for organisations seeking to adapt and change. Whether they are brought in to enable business turnaround, business transformation or another significant change project, they possess a specific set of skills and experiences, and offer valuable expertise and agility.

So, what is an interim executive and what does "good" look like in this role?

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How to create a change-able organisation

by Anna Davis on 19 Dec 2016

The need has never been greater for organisations to be adept at managing change. Whether driven by innovations in technology or global disruption, the unpredictable nature of change means organisations need to be "change-able", where managing successive change is no big deal.

Change as part of the organisation's DNA

Up until now, most change efforts have focused on the change itself and, with relief, project leaders have managed to deliver change despite the organisation. That's not good enough to deliver change in the current cyber-driven era. We need to mature our thinking about the role of the organisation in delivering change.

A change-able organisation is one where leaders have been intentional about wanting to create a change mindset, culture and change expertise that is part of the DNA of the organisation. It's one where you move from change being the remit of a few, to putting the capability into the hands of many. This is no small achievement as it is as much about taking down past practices and barriers, as it is about creating new ways of thinking and behaviours.

What we need to remember is that if we want to create a change-able organisation, we need to develop change-able people. The expectations and standards placed on leaders, through to the expertise developed in employees and the permissions we give them, are what create agile, adaptable organisations. 

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How to use the eight pillars of change in business transformation

by Leon Labovitch on 12 Dec 2016

In her recent inaugural address, Prime Minister Theresa May cited the word "change" no less than 29 times. This included: "Change has got to come" (seven times), "change the direction of our nation", "change in the way our country works", "deliver the change they need", "change will never just happen by itself", "driving change", and others.

One might correctly surmise that the agenda for our country, and its success in business and government, is change and transformation!

Having thrown down the gauntlet, how can we best respond to the Prime Minister's challenge? In a series of features, I'd like to demystify the many aspects of "change" and explain how we can deliver successful change and business transformation.

When I first began helping clients, transformation and change management as business concepts were in their infancy. I came up with the concept of the "Eight Pillars" to focus on the "must haves", in order to guide and deliver success.

This article describes the Eight Pillars of Change, each as illustrated icons, which are easy and practical to grasp. In future articles, I'll provide case studies and explore important topics, such as engagement, purpose and creative expression, in greater depth.

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In the Spotlight – Simon Clarke, BIE interim FD

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 06 Dec 2016

Simon Clarke is an interim FD with experience across sectors, including FMCG, retail, logistics and healthcare. Simon combines the skills of a finance director with commercial and operational nous.

The client is a privately-owned UK healthcare provider, which was undergoing a business turnaround.

The brief

Entering the fray as interim FD in early 2014, Simon's initial brief was to support the recently-appointed managing director (MD). Having recognised that the existing senior management team were not operations-focused and did not possess the right skillset, the MD had set about recruiting a new management team, with the FD role being the last to be put into place.

The business recognised that many of the issues being faced were well outside of their comfort zone and as a seasoned interim, with experience in a variety of sectors and situations, Simon was well-equipped to manage these seemingly daunting challenges and to add value.

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How can business leaders change with confidence?

by Suparna Malhotra on 05 Dec 2016

Most change occurs because of disruption. In fact, change is a form of disruption - quite often, not one we choose. It is, however, inevitable. So why are most of us (yes, including me) resistant to it?

Change in life is a certainty: as the seasons; as the cycle of life. Yet it is met with trepidation and hesitation. One of the reasons this fear arises is due to a sense of a loss of control over outcomes. Yet we volunteer away our power in the guise of resistance.

My work involves supporting business leaders through situations where they have to redesign how they work, most often in situations of career progression. Once again, while we seek progress and promotion, we sometimes fail to realise that underneath that is that "C" word again.

Most people are happy enough to get the promotion, make the VP role, or secure that new job – but they're not delighted about the prospect of the actual differences in circumstance and processes that will entail.

So, what are the reasons that "change" is so daunting? And how can you ensure you transition with confidence? These are some of the questions I would like to explore with you here today.

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How can businesses rethink their organisational design and mindset?

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 28 Nov 2016

With the business landscape shifting on its axes, companies are recognising the need to make fundamental changes to the way they operate; the way they exist. Today, success cannot be defined per the old standards. The organisations that are making waves are those that are breaking free from old parameters. Think: Uber, Airbnb and Netflix.

Therefore, many businesses are finding that they need to review their organisational design and mindset. Otherwise, they risk being left behind. They need to consider how they approach what they do and whether this fits with what's expected today.

So how can organisations make the changes required in a disrupted environment

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Is your business on the "track" to retain its top talent?

by Stephen Bates on 21 Nov 2016

If you asked 100 managers from across the spectrum of business if they really wanted to be managers, you would likely receive quite a shock at the answer. In my experience, easily 50 per cent of people in managerial positions don't want to be.

That's a crazy high percentage, isn't it? But whenever I ask this question, between 40 and 75 per cent of people are doing a job that they don't want to do, which is not good for anyone. This is supported by research on employee engagement, which states that only 17 per cent of the UK worksforce is engaged and that disengagement costs the UK £52-£70 billion per year in lost productivity, according to Gallup.

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Organisational Change: Delivering Change in a Disrupted World

by Anna Davis on 14 Nov 2016

The penny has dropped that we now live in a disrupted world, where technology drives speed and customisation into our increasingly convergent home and work lives, and where societal staples take on new meaning. Consider how we are starting to apply new meaning to the following: work and our jobs, organisational structure and hierarchy, sharing resources, justice and values. Our interpretations and aspirations are now influenced by opportunity in the broadest sense of the word.

Much is being written about the challenge and opportunity leaders face in creating and sustaining change-able organisations to remain competitive in this era. Leaders need to create an environment where a change mindset and culture of change is secured as part of the organisation's DNA. These are important macro considerations but let's spare a thought for those employed in the work of planning and delivering change; the people who might be in change leader or project leader roles, or unsuspecting line managers given the work of leading a change. 

What makes a great change professional in a disrupted world? Do we need to rethink the meaning of managing change and change management?

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How are business leaders reacting to the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 07 Nov 2016

"We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society."

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

That technological revolution is known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. A plethora of macro forces are converging - and this is placing intense pressure on organisations and the leaders at their helm.

Many experienced business leaders may be tempted to understand these advancements as the linear progression of the technological changes we've seen in the latter half of the twentieth century. However, evidence suggests that the speed, scope and impact of change will go beyond anything we've encountered before.

Against this backdrop, BIE carried out a survey of over 150 business leaders, to find out how they are responding to the current disruptive environment.

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Why the traditional career path is no longer relevant

by Ettie McCormack on 31 Oct 2016

Career development is a core component of "total rewards" – an organisation's value proposition. Having a career framework can help organisations understand where their talent is concentrated; how prepared, or ill-prepared, they are to meet future resource challenges; and how key employees can be developed and retained. It can also improve the functioning of the organisation to support business needs.

Trend surveys consistently show that, after leadership development and employee engagement, employee development is the third highest priority area needing urgent attention. Yet little is done to look at this critical area for an organisation's progress and well-being, outside of the long-standing practices that have been applied over many years.

It's time to look at this afresh, in view of two significant drivers that are forcing business leaders to take a different approach.

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How do you find the executive capability to become more agile?

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 24 Oct 2016

Disruption is the new state of play. Emerging technologies, a global marketplace and constant change mean that industries, organisations and individuals face challenges to their status quo on a continuous basis. 

Against this backdrop, agility is key. In research conducted by BIE, 94 per cent of nearly 150 business leaders reported that being more agile is a priority for their organisations. From business evolution to business transformation, companies are changing the way they operate on a fundamental level.

For many companies, becoming more agile is a pressing and immediate concern. In fact, 82 per cent of business leaders said leading and delivering step changes in how the business is conducted (business transformation) is their highest priority.

So where do businesses find the executive capability that will enable them to become more agile and to compete in a disrupted environment? 

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The power in being wrong for business leaders

by Stephen Bates on 17 Oct 2016

There is power in being wrong. It seems a strange thing to say, doesn't it? However, there is huge power - and huge benefits to gain – for business leaders in being wrong.

I want you to think of being wrong as both an attitude and a skill. The skill is the ability to recognise that you have made a mistake or are about to make one. The attitude side of things comes into play in how you deal with this knowledge.

One of the most common things I hear when I am working, is the cry that the leader, when making a particular decision, either did not consult on it or ignored the advice given to them. Almost as frequent is the complaint that they did not change course even when supporting evidence was very strong.

We want leaders who will map out a vision and have the courage and confidence to act on it, but, and this is the big but, will they also allow themselves to change their minds when needed?

This is why being wrong is both a skill and an attitude. The skill is in seeing that something needs to be changed and the attitude is the willingness to change it, especially in the full glare of public judgement. It takes a strong leader to stick their neck out, but it takes an even stronger one to stand up and change their mind.

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Dealing with disruption in the recruitment and consulting industries

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 10 Oct 2016

"Business models are less durable than they used to be. The basic rules of the game for creating and capturing economic value were once fixed in place for years, even decades, as companies tried to execute the same business models better than their competitors did. But now, business models are subject to rapid displacement, disruption, and, in extreme cases, outright destruction."

Marc de Jong and Menno van Dijk, McKinsey

The scenario outlined above is occurring across industries, throwing into flux the systems and processes of the past. Against this backdrop, business leaders are finding that they do not necessarily have all the appropriate skills needed to overcome the challenges they face. In seeking to adapt their organisations to the current climate, they inevitably require external capability.

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Lifting the Lid on employee Engagement during organisational change

by Anna Davis on 04 Oct 2016

Much of the focus in the business world currently is external.  New technology, the uncertainty of markets, and global health and social phenomena are garnering the lion’s share of this attention in many cases. Interpreting these challenges and what they mean for a business is a constant necessity. It requires leaders to take a hard look at the internal state of their organisations.

For organisations to withstand the ambiguity of today’s business climate, leaders need to objectively review how change-able they and their organisation are. They need to create a climate and culture where organisational change is part of the DNA, not an irritant to be endured. This includes identifying cracks in the organisational system that need attention to prevent them from expanding under the strain of more significant or higher frequency change.

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BIE Digital Disruption Event with Mark Spelman – World Economic Forum

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 30 Sep 2016

Over the last few years we have seen a significant shift in organisations’ strategy due to rapid development in digital technology and have supported them to deliver their goals. For many of us, we don’t know what we don’t know and have no idea what the future holds for us.

A recent BIE survey of 150 business leaders, concluded that 58% found the speed and scale of change required to remain competitive overwhelming, whilst just 9% think business leaders are completely equipped to lead business growth in this environment.

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3 important skills required by an interim executive

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 26 Sep 2016

The life of an interim executive is unpredictable. As a result, it’s often exciting, with no two days the same. On the other hand, it can be challenging, throwing you a curveball when you least expect it.

Change is the norm across industries today – and this is especially true in the world of the interim executive. You are on the front line when it comes to dealing with disruption and its impact on businesses and the leaders at their helm. While one placement may be highly structured with clear goals to achieve, another may require a completely different approach than first anticipated.

Therefore, interim executives require a specialist set of skills that will enable them to deal with the common challenges they encounter in their line of work – and to effect successful change within the organisations they operate in.

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How business leaders can avoid falling into the "work harder" trap

by Stephen Bates on 19 Sep 2016

"Big money is not made by bustling about. Big money is made by thinking."
John Spedan Lewis - Founder of the John Lewis Partnership

Over 50 years ago, John Spedan Lewis was asked, in an open letter in the John Lewis weekly in-house magazine, why the haberdashery buyers did not keep regular business hours. His reply was simply that he did not pay them on their hours but on their results. A man ahead of his time.

Yet today, we still too often focus on hours worked. "We need to work harder on this!" How many times have you heard this phrase? It's safe to say that you've heard or said these words or similar for most of your life. Parents, teachers, bosses: it's the default response to the question: how can we be more successful? And it's often seen as the solution in situations where people are feeling particularly under pressure. But the question is, should it be?

The answer is definitely not. Simply working harder is a trap that leads to inefficiency and reactivity. But it can be a hard habit to break because we are so conditioned into believing it is a good thing - and we don't want to let this mindset go.

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Why bother with a case for change?

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 12 Sep 2016

Today's business environment is characterised by disruption and uncertainty. In response, organisations, and the leaders at their helm, need to adapt their processes and systems, in order to stay ahead of the curve. From full-scale business transformation, to a shake-up of the leadership team, companies across the board are in flux.

If you are leading change in this space, your task can feel somewhat daunting. Therefore, before setting things in motion, it's crucial to draw together the evidence you require to engage stakeholders and convince them to come on-board. You need to build a case, which will map out the road ahead and create the foundation for your success.

Moving effectively from A to B – and beyond – hinges on your ability to fully understand your vision and its implications. Where are you now and where do you need to be? What is it you're going to do and what will it take to achieve it?

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Is disruption making businesses reassess leadership capabilities?

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 05 Sep 2016

In a global and digital society where change is the norm, disruption is a constant. A range of forces combine to place great pressure on organisations and, regardless of their industry, business leaders need to ensure that they are well-equipped to deal with this reality.

In the introduction to the publication, "Boards in challenging times: extraordinary disruptions"[1], Malcolm McKenzie writes: "These challenges are unique rather than routine, involve multiple internal and external stakeholders, are triggered by major internal or external events and have no obvious solution. […] Many boards are arguably not currently equipped to deal with major or extraordinary disruptions and discontinuities and are often found to be unaligned with their management team and not effective in addressing the most pressing issues."

Whatever their focus - be it company turnaround, business transformation or a change in leadership – organisations want to achieve competitive advantage. So is disruption making businesses reassess their leadership capabilities? And if so, how? 

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Key skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

by Tania Hummel on 30 Aug 2016

"In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace -and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." 

Orson Welles as Harry Lime, The Third Man

Given that we are in a VUCA (short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world, - and that the pace of change is speeding up, not slowing down - we not only have to anticipate the key skills needed for the future, but to set about acquiring them now.

Global media and entertainment has experienced the fastest and most dramatic transformation over the last decade or so and disruption is starting to hit many other sectors, as witnessed by the changing habits of customers, who are engaging with technology as never before.

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Business decision-making under pressure - Polarised thinking

by Stephen Bates on 22 Aug 2016

When working with leaders and managers, I frequently ask the question: "What is in the middle of black and white?" Very quickly and invariably the answer comes back: "Grey."

We are trained to think that grey is the answer. Of course, it's not, but this demonstrates an important point around polarised thinking. Under stress, we tend to polarise our thinking into two options: this or that; either or; black or white.

The default state of the brain is to search for and use well-established, tested decisions and behaviours. But when something new is required it will still try to default back to what it has used before. In our ever and faster changing business world, this is a big and often stressful problem.

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3 indicators of a successful business transformation

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 15 Aug 2016

Lots of people are talking about business transformation. What it means; in which situations it's required; how to achieve it. But what does successful business transformation actually look like?

Across industries and sectors, disruption is the new state of normal. From Brexit to the Millennial workforce; emerging digital realities to attendant security risks: businesses across the spectrum are having to reassess the way in which they operate and exist in the world.

Writing for Harvard Business Review (HBR), Ron Ashkenas says: "The overall goal of transformation is not just to execute a defined change - but to reinvent the organisation and discover a new or revised business model based on a vision for the future."

There are three notable phrases in this statement:

  1. Vision
  2. New or revised business model
  3. Reinvention of the organisation

Arguably, the extent to which you achieve these things is the measure of success of your business transformation. With that in mind, let's consider three indicators of successful business transformation.

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Finding the parallels between Brexit and business transformation

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 08 Aug 2016

The vote for the UK to leave the European Union was a momentous one that has divided the nation and created more questions than it has provided answers. As Prime Minister Theresa May has said: "Brexit means Brexit." But what Brexit means is yet to be seen.

Even if the result of the referendum was not what they'd hoped for, people are recognising the importance of coming together to ensure that this monumental change has a good outcome. And while it will be politicians who have the final say, the great business minds and wider business community of the UK have an important role to play too.

In fact, as we start out on this transformative journey, there are lessons we can learn from business transformation. There are a number of parallels between the corporate transformation process and the massive transformation that the UK now faces.

So what could Brexit mean and how do we achieve it?

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Is strategy still king in business evolution?

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 01 Aug 2016

In today's world of high velocity disruption, a big question for business leaders is whether strategy is dead.

Writing for Forbes, entrepreneur Rick Smith, says: "Incrementalism has been disrupted by disruption.  Innovation in most organisations can best be described as 'trained incrementalism'. Managers throw buzzwords around like 'out of the box thinking' and 'paradigm shifts', but when pressed to deliver, quickly retrench and focus on efforts that are merely incremental. […] Disruption is coming to a company near you. Most organisations are not prepared for this, or even preparing for it."

In other words, when faced with change on an unprecedented scale, many business leaders are unsure how to forge ahead. The old methods and processes are not necessarily as effective as they once were. And so organisations fail to bring about meaningful changes to the way in which they operate.

It is commonly agreed that unprecedented change and disruption is here to stay and so, is strategy increasingly defunct in this capricious business landscape and if it is, what does this mean for business leaders?

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The cracks in meaning in a VUCA world

by Tania Hummel on 25 Jul 2016

In the book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Nassim Nicholas Taleb describes a black swan as a highly unlikely event with three principal characteristics:

  1. It is unpredictable
  2. It carries a massive impact
  3. We retrofit an explanation that makes it appear less random and more predictable than it was

If anything, instances of black swan events (low predictability, high impact) seem to be increasing. If anyone still doubts that we are living in a VUCA (short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world, recent events around Brexit provide the perfect demonstration and could just as easily apply to many businesses experiencing disruption.

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Creating the Conditions for Change

by Anna Davis on 18 Jul 2016

Leaders experience change as a daily requirement; if you are a leader, you are a leader of change - there is no escaping it.  

Here’s the second thing. The most important dimension of change is you, the change leader. The type of change leader you are - your mindset, behaviours and resilience - is arguably the most significant influence on the success of the change you are leading. As are the organisational conditions you create for the change to be successful.

First of all, who do we mean by change leader? It is inclusive of a range of roles:

  • The business leader setting the change agenda.
  • The programme or project manager leading the work to design and deliver the change.
  • Key enablers of change, such as the HR director.
  • A line manager leading the implementation of a change (set by themselves or others) and its impact on their team.

This is a broad category, emphasising the importance of change leadership throughout the organisation.

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The importance of emotional intelligence when dealing with disruption

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 11 Jul 2016

Today, disruption in the business world is the norm. Change happens at an unprecedented rate and business leaders need to be able to flex and adapt accordingly. In this environment, emotional intelligence (EQ) is an extremely valuable trait for leaders to possess and develop. They need the ability to be self-aware; to empathise with and support their employees; to understand the impact of their behaviour on the wider organisation and the climate they themselves create.

We spoke to Jo Rye, talent and development consultant and BIE interim, who has worked with a number of international clients, helping them work towards achieving a cultural climate that builds leadership capability and maintains high performance and focus through times of change and transition.  Jo is clear that the key to businesses delivering success comes through the leader's ability to be self-aware of their human impact on others or, in other words, their EQ.

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Business as usual in the face of uncertainty

by James Gherardi on 06 Jul 2016

In fewer than seven days, the UK has fallen into a state of political, economic and social pandemonium. The only clear outcome of the referendum on our membership of the EU has been disunity. Disunity within government, between the countries of the United Kingdom, the rest of Europe and within families.

This is intended purely as a statement of fact rather than any political viewpoint. The thing that businesses detest most is uncertainty, something we currently have in abundance. No clear vision of the future is yet to emerge and is unlikely to do so until at least the end of this year.

Both main political parties are in disarray: the Conservative party remains in the midst of a leadership contest; the Labour party isn't providing any form of effective opposition; the SNP are baying for blood, and rightly so. A clear indication has yet to emerge regarding the timeline associated with Article 50, or for that matter, whether Article 50 is likely to be triggered and followed through to full conclusion at all.

Therefore, my last week has been spent in dialogue with business leaders to assess their views on the direction of travel and the associated opportunities and threats identified thus far. It is still very much early days; however, several clear themes have emerged:

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Is interim management dead?

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 04 Jul 2016

In short, the answer is no. In fact, perhaps the question we should be asking instead is: are we all interims now?

Permanent contracts are still dominant in businesses – and it is set to stay that way for the foreseeable future. But does a "permanent" position really exist in this day and age? How beneficial could it be for us all to adopt an interim mindset – regardless of our actual position?

In an age of business disruption, where there are no certainties - as macro forces combine to place intense pressure on organisations across the spectrum - there is a necessity to be agile. Business leaders have to be prepared to change course at a moment's notice and progress is often tracked project-by-project, rather than year-by-year.

To survive in this new environment and to create competitive advantage for our businesses, we may all find ourselves needing to take more of an interim approach to leadership. 

Amid technological disruption and now Brexit, we are in the thick of a revolution in the business world. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be difficult to adjust to. Even the most gifted of business leaders can find themselves feeling slightly rootless as they face unprecedented changes within and outside their organisation.

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Challenging the Traditional Approach to Business Transformation

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 28 Jun 2016

Businesses across all sectors are likely to spend much of the next 12 months staring down the barrel of some form of transformational change in the landscape they are operating in.

But how many are ready to address the threats and seize the opportunities that this disruption will throw at them?

In BIE’s recent research of over 140 business leaders, 82% say leading and delivering step changes in how the business is conducted is their highest priority, but only 41% say their organisation currently has the required internal capability to successfully deliver this. 

Recently, BIE's chief executive, Rob Walker, and executive director, Ben Hawkins, were interviewed for The Business Debate, a programme that looks at the key innovations that will shape the world of tomorrow.

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What is the next "C" in the C-Suite evolution?

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 20 Jun 2016

Disruption is the new world order - and business leaders have to be prepared to deal with it at a moment's notice. New technologies, a global marketplace and constant change mean that industries face challenges to their status quo and even threats to their very existence on a constant basis.

In the foreword to the publication, "Boards in challenging times: extraordinary disruptions"[1], Sir Peter Gershon writes: "Much of our established management thinking and research is based on companies operating in a steady state environment or one of incremental change. Businesses are increasingly facing extraordinary disruptions and the growth in shareholder activism will impose greater accountability for how leaders address these issues."

Boards need to ensure that they are well-equipped to deal with disruption - but, in practice, how many are prepared to embrace this reality? The current make-up of the C-Suite is not always conducive to change. This poses some difficult questions for board members. Are the current roles the right ones? Or do new positions need to be created and filled? What are the barriers to success? And, ultimately, how can the board adapt and evolve to survive in this new environment?

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 07 Jun 2016

Patrick Knight is an innovative board-level CIO with 20+ years of leadership success in complex, globally branded organisations across a diverse range of industry sectors, functional areas, and advancing technologies. He is a clear-thinking strategist able to quickly absorb complex information, engage and build consensus across diverse stakeholders, map out strategic pathways and accelerate focused action.

BIE’s client is an iconic global £15 billion brand, operating in 180 countries with over 200 recognised and trusted brands. It is the world leader in the markets in which it operates, including retail, airlines, cruise, hotels and hospitality. It has over 70,000 employees and delivers premier customer service to 30 million customers per year. Already a long established FTSE 100 organisation, it was in the process of merging to increase the size, scale and growth of its global operations.

This was a highly complex business faced with multiple challenges of merger, integration, divestitures and geopolitical pressures, while in the process of transforming the business, IT and digitalisation of the largest part of the newly formed group. Namely, the UK and Ireland business, which produces the majority of revenue and profits of the group. A number of promotions and departures meant that in order to deliver on this critical portfolio of change and stabilisation, talented support was required.

Delivery of enhanced technology capabilities was pivotal to future success. The organisation started a search for an interim CIO for the UK and Ireland businesses.

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 06 Jun 2016

Achieving business transformation is a significant accomplishment. According to the McKinsey Global Survey 2015, only one in four respondents say that transformations have been successful at both improving performance and equipping the organisation to sustain improvements over time.

So when do you know you’ve successfully delivered a change programme? And how do you embed and maintain this on an ongoing basis?  

In a previous blog post, we discussed three key ingredients of business transformation:

  1. A clear vision and strategy
  2. Transformation capability
  3. Sustainability

A common mistake is for businesses to take their foot off the pedal once their project has gone live. In fact, post-delivery is just another part of a successful transformation. You need to concentrate on embedding change post-transformation and view go-live as part of a long-term journey. So while sustainability comes at the end of the journey, it is the longest stretch - immeasurable, actually.

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 02 Jun 2016

City recruitment specialist BIE Executive has boosted its Technology Practice with the appointment of Kersty Bletso.

Kersty will provide senior leadership and significantly expand BIE’s capabilities in this field.

She brings a wealth of experience and a vast network after more than 13 years in the recruitment sector that includes roles at Harvey Nash and Hays, where she has led retained search and contingent recruitment campaigns across multiple sectors in technology.

At BIE Kersty will lead the Technology Practice, which focuses on a wide range of posts including Chief Information Officers (CIOs), CTOs, IT Directors, IS Strategy, Architecture, Digital, Heads of Function, Programme Directors and Transformation Directors on an Executive Search and Interim Management capacity. The role will cover both UK and international search.

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by Simon Evans on 14 Apr 2016

Taking stakeholders on the journey with you has long been key to delivering a successful business transformation. Simon Evans, MD of Catalyst Business Consulting, shares his thoughts on how to obtain and maintain stakeholder buy-in to your transformation vision.


The key first step in any transformation is properly exploring and understanding exactly what you’re trying to achieve, and why. We usually try to interview the key people to determine the boundaries and the scope of what you want to do.  Then working with members of the programme team, we look at models and best practice examples that others have successfully employed to see what the possibilities might be for you.


The next stage is working closely with the programme leads to work out who the key stakeholders are going to be – both internally and externally – before identifying people who represent those groups at different levels within the organisation. It’s important not to have too many C-suite representatives in this group because as well as having difficulty working around their diaries, they tend to dominate conversations and can stifle open debate. This approach is usually received well by the senior teams as long as their key “go-to” people are involved and they are assured that they will be brought back in to the process later.

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by BIE on 13 Apr 2016

We've all see businesses go into meltdown. But what causes a company crisis and what can we learn from it? Award-winning specialist turnaround CEO Giles Campbell says it's all down to two key ingredients – people and culture.

Speak with the management team of any failing/failed company and one common response usually stands out: "If only we had more money everything would be fine. We could trade through it."

Sometimes it's phrased differently depending on the sector, but the subtext is invariably that some external event beyond the management's control is the underlying cause of the difficulties.

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by Rose Padfield on 11 Apr 2016

With leadership failings cited as the most common reason for the failure of business transformations, we asked specialist leadership coach and mentor Rose Padfield for the qualities she thinks boards should be looking for at the top of their organisations.

Inadequate leadership is cited as the major reason for the failure of most major business transformation initiatives. Here, specialist coach and mentor Rose Padfield sets out the qualities she believes boards should be looking for at the top of their organisations.

Boards frequently operate under the false belief that an egocentric, larger-than-life leader is needed to make a company great.

Although it's counter-intuitive, all long-term 'great' companies are actually led by an ego-less executive where "deep personal humility blends with intense professional will". Truly great leaders all possess the humility needed to dedicate their energy to something larger and more sustaining than themselves. In short, they put the organisation's needs above their own.

Here, from my experience, is where the best leaders focus their time:

1. Set the vision and direction

As the leader, you are accountable for the performance of your business, so you need to be forward-thinking. This aspect of the role comprises three components:

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by Ed Harding on 07 Apr 2016

Former banker and specialist finance interim Ed Harding looks at the advantages of hiring an interim, over a traditional consultant, to drive business transformation.

Eight years as an interim, most recently in an unfamiliar sector, has taught me two key things – firstly that for a good interim it’s all about ‘skills not sector’ and secondly that temporary executives can bring things to the transformation table that a professional services firm can’t.

Consultants certainly have their place, but there is simply no substitute for a fresh pair of eyes working within, rather than alongside or advisor to, the executive team.

Increasingly in the interim space today, boards expect professional rigour but don’t need a third party branded advisor. They need proven operators who can work with them and their staff and from day one really contribute to business operations. As an interim, I’ve found that my brand on commencing an assignment automatically becomes that of the recruiter that I represent and, most importantly, our shared client.

That’s not to say consultants don’t add value. In technical areas such as tax for example, you clearly need someone who can tell you what to do and you pay for what is, in effect, an insurance policy based on brand power. But the reality is that consultants ultimately consult. They tell you what you should do but they don’t actually get their hands dirty – and often in business the reality is that it can take as long to tell someone what’s required as it does to do it yourself.

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by Giles Campbell on 06 Apr 2016

Business is full of ups and downs, but when do you know the tide has turned and you need to embark on a major transformation? Giles Campbell, Interim CEO and turnaround specialist, looks at how it pays to take a planned approach to assessing how far and how fast you need to change.

Business, by its nature, is fluid. There will be ups and downs, periods of growth, investment, consolidation and redirection. But when do you know you're staring down the barrel of a serious issue? When does a business decide it needs to radically change course or risk completely running aground? Turnaround specialist Giles Campbell looks at some of the lessons learned during a distinguished interim CEO career.

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Thinking big in a smaller space - HR organisation in a startup

by Carol Frost on 04 Apr 2016

Moving from the top table at a major blue chip corporation to a private equity-backed start up throws up number of challenges – but, as HR Director Carol Frost tells us, being in a smaller team doesn't necessarily mean you can't still think big. 

In January 2015, after more than 20 years working for major blue chip companies including BG Group and Centrica, Carol Frost took the HR Director seat at oil and gas start-up Sequa Petroleum. With her first quarter safely behind her, she reflects on some of the early lessons learned moving from an established multi-national to a new kid on the block.

I've always enjoyed working for large organisations and it has afforded me lots of great opportunities. I've learned from some of the best and worked with many inspirational people.

But the truth is, I've always been something of a non-conformist, so when the chance came to move to Sequa I jumped at it. I was excited by a question that has been on my mind for a number of years: "If it was me making the decisions, coming up with the new ideas and putting together the policies and procedures, how much more effective could I be?"

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change management - MAKING CHANGE STICK

by Nigel Batty on 01 Apr 2016

It's one thing to deliver a successful change programme but quite another to ensure it is properly embedded. How do the experts ensure that the benefits promised at the initiation of a project are actually delivered over the long term?

We've all been there – the dog days of a great project.

The team has really come together and delivered. Processes designed, organisation re-aligned, users trained, milestones met and everybody is ready for go-live. One more heave and we'll have it over the line. A few weeks of stabilisation will take care of the snagging, followed by the mother of all parties and we can all get back to normal...

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 31 Mar 2016

Three years ago, after a very successful career as a permanent OD specialist, Helen Lancaster opted to move into the world of interim management. Here, she explains what persuaded her to take the leap and some of the lessons she’s learned along the way.

What were your thought processes as you were deciding that a foray into the interim world might be your next career move?

It was probably the culmination of a period of reflection, aided by some sound professional advice.

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 23 Mar 2016

Engaged by the recently appointed CEO of a major international charity to work with him on the strategy to build a sustainable organisation, Jo Carter took her first steps into the world of a global not-for-profit body adjusting to the demands of a rapidly changing world.

It led to a 17-month placement on the Executive Committee that saw her take an unprecedented – but ultimately highly successful – approach to re-shaping the organisation’s approach to managing its people.

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by BIE on 23 Mar 2016



Delivering business transformation is usually daunting enough. But increasingly, organisations are recognising that the ability to respond rapidly and effectively to change needs to be ingrained in their business model.

So how do the people who’ve been there and done it in some of the UK’s leading firms think you should build an internal capacity in managing business transformation?

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 05 Feb 2016

BIE are delighted to be announced top of the Recruiter’s FAST 50 league, which ranks the fastest-growing private recruitment businesses in the UK according to annual sales growth over the last three years.

BIE is marked as a ‘new breed of progressive recruitment companies’ that, with ‘a compound annual growth rate of 88.8% over the past three years and a newcomer to the FAST 50, is a clear winner — more than 20 percentage points ahead of the runner-up.’

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 27 Jan 2016

Teri Ellison spent 18 years as a senior HR executive in the IT sector, rising to director level before leaving to work as an interim. After five years carrying out a range of temporary assignments, Terri is currently six months into another permanent IT role. We talked to her about her career trajectory and what she’s learned from having her feet in two very different camps.

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WILL THE PRINCE EVER WEAR THE CROWN in business transformation?

by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 27 Jan 2016

PMO managers have long been considered the ‘data aggregators’ of business transformation. But, according to interim Project Management Office (PMO) specialist Graham Burke, the future heralds a much more agile and strategic role.

It’s no secret that the PMO has suffered something of an identity crisis in recent years.

Ask the senior teams of most large organisations what their Project Management Office is for and they’re likely to talk about arranging meetings, booking rooms or providing yards of PRINCE2 project printouts.

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 27 Jan 2016

Although world markets appear to be stalling, merger and acquisition activity in the UK remains strong. Experienced international interim Paul Siegenthaler takes a look at the potential opportunities for interims in the M&A space.

It’s hard to put a finger on exactly why M&A activity remains buoyant in the face of all the recent talk about a global slowdown.

In truth, it’s unlikely to be linked to a sudden surge in market confidence.A more plausible scenario is that many businesses have been sitting on their hands for several years whilst they couldn’t see clarity on the horizon

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by James Gherardi on 09 Dec 2015

There’s an old saying, coined in the 1920s and beloved of the original ad land Mad Men: “Sell the sizzle, not the steak”. Here, BIE Executive’s James Gherardi explains how the sentiment behind that phrase still has relevance today for candidates seeking to get themselves noticed in a crowded marketplace.

Although increasingly under threat from more innovative career selling techniques, CVs remain the principal recruitment currency. But, despite the many thousands of articles written on the subject of CV targeting, some very senior candidates are still missing a trick.

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 07 Dec 2015

Professional troubleshooter Kalyan Banerjee has worked in senior transformation roles all over the world. We asked him why he moved from professional accountant to international interim – and what he has learned along the way.

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 20 Nov 2015

BIE were joined by a fantastic table of top Finance Directors at the Covent Garden Hotel, for our Finance Leaders Business Dinner, led by Simon Cordrey and Simon Moore, BIE. The aim of the evening was to create an open forum for sharing experience and advice amongst top-tier finance leaders and to discuss solutions to key challenges they are facing.

Challenges around finance transformation dominated the discussions, led by Gary Downes, Global Head of Finance Transformation Serco.

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 20 Nov 2015

BIE hosted a fascinating discussion at our business breakfast at the Haymarket Hotel, led by Stuart Turnbull from Mercer. HR Directors from top class organisations like Nationwide Building Society, Intercontinental Hotels Group plc, London Stock Exhange Group plc, British Gas and Travis Perkins plc many others, shared experiences, insights and approaches to effectively developing a leadership talent pipeline that is fit for purpose.

Whether strategic or tactical, evolutionary or radically transformational, change is the one certainty for business leaders of today.

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by Fabrice Rodrigue on 15 Oct 2015

In the first of a series of articles looking at the challenges and opportunities inherent within the world of business transformation, Fabrice Rodrigue, head of BIE’s Business Consultancy division, sets out the importance of laying strong foundations during the mobilisation phase.

Never has the old carpentry saying ‘measure twice, cut once’ been more apt than in the complex world of business transformation.

Whether it’s a multi-million pound systems overhaul or an internal restructure in response to changing market conditions or a change in leadership, getting the basics right at the outset simply couldn’t be more mission critical.

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by Fabrice Rodrigue on 15 Oct 2015

In the second of a series of articles looking at the challenges and opportunities inherent within the world of business transformation, Fabrice Rodrigue, head of BIE’s Business Consultancy division, looks at some of the common failings when it comes to organisational turnaround.

The business transformation journey is a complex one, with numerous twists and turns along the way, obstacles to negotiate and dead ends to avoid.

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by Kate Mansfield on 14 Oct 2015

We asked Kate Mansfield, Career Coach who specialises in supporting executives with the transition from corporate life to working as interim managers, what she believes are the hallmark traits of a great Interim Manager.

As well as having broad skill-sets characterised by change and project management across a wide variety of sectors, Kate believes that there are a number of traits unique to successful interim managers.


Interim managers are generally at a point in their career where they are very comfortable in their own skin; recognise the value they bring; not afraid to challenge constructively and more interested in success of the organisation collectively than individual goals.


They are interested in making their clients look good. They are motivated to help the organisation to succeed and less interested in what this means for their own position or status. Theyare not political players and are prepared to be hands on and get stuck in.


Goalposts may shift – this is part of organisation’s life – an interim needs to adapt and flex with this.


Interims take those in the organisation with them – they don’t upset the apple cart but equally aren’t afraid to challenge constructively. They see the benefit of developing and empowering others.

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 14 Oct 2015

Business leaders would be forgiven for thinking that when it comes to turning their business around, they’re probably the best person to over see it. After all, who could possibly understand their business as well as they do?

But ask the same question of experts who’ve been at the sharp end throughout their careers and you get a very different answer.

Award-winning transformation guru Giles Campbell probably sums it up in his response to the question ‘what’s your best piece of advice for leaders managing a transformation?’

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by David Kelham on 14 Oct 2015

David Kelham’s senior finance career spans over 30 years, mainly in blue chip companies, including Shell, P&O, NTL and Regenersis. We caught up with him as he prepared to come to the end of his most recent role as CFO of Cable and Wireless Communications Plc Caribbean Region, including The Bahamas.

So David, how did you wind up at Cable and Wireless (CWC)?

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by James Trussler on 14 Oct 2015

Anyone who’s been involved in a major business transformation process will probably be familiar with stories of tears along the way. But for James Trusler, who took HR responsibility for a recent major global takeover deal, sometimes it’s all about the ‘tiers’.

In any business takeover or merger, getting the people piece right is paramount.

Different cultures, different languages and different processes all conspire to making HR management during a time of major change a real can of worms.

But perhaps even more difficult than managing the employees is the process dealing with the ‘people who look after the people’. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that HR staff are probably the hardest to lead through any significant business change.

But they are also absolutely key to success. And that’s why, when trying to integrate two businesses across 35 countries in under 18 months, we adopted a two-tier approach to HR transformation.

We identified our first tier as those countries with between 50 and 1,000 employees. These tended to be the ones that were, for all intents and purposes, fully functioning companies, with their own HR business partners, L&D and talent management etc in place.

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by BIE on 14 Oct 2015

Picture the scene: You’re the CEO of a business whose financial performance is heading south.

You’ve identified one of your immediate remedial tasks – a fundamental re-design of your IT and supply chain infrastructure.

Looking across your organisation at your top talent, you’re trying to decide who should lead this crucial transformation project.

You know your people, but how do youknow who has the right mix of skills and capabilities to see your change programme through?

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by Rob Walker on 14 Oct 2015

There’s a famous old saying attributed to legendary car manufacturer Henry Ford. In response to a question about understanding his market, he is alleged to have said: “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”

It’s a quote about cars – but there are similarities to significant parts of the recruitment market.

For organisations going through a major transformation for the first time, doing so can be a daunting prospect. Often they simply ‘won’t know what they don’t know’, which is one of the biggest risks in any change programme.

In the transformation space, knowing where you want to get to is the easy part. Understanding how you get there – and asking the right questions along the way – is the tricky but critical element.

All businesses instinctively fear the unknown, and the feedback from our clients is that they value being able to talk to a partner who can offer genuinely fresh perspective – and even a ‘translation’ and development of what their needs are. It’s the reason why BIE took the strategic decision in 2014 to build a consultancy expertise to run alongside its functional recruitment teams.

This ‘hybrid’ alternative – part consultancy, part recruitment – is attractive to organisations because it allows them to retain more control of their programme, whilst at the same time building a legacy of capability within their organisation.

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by BIE on 14 Oct 2015

Do today’s businesses have the capability to deliver step-change...and if they don’t what are they doing about it?

Businesses across all sectors continue to face transformational change in the landscape they are operating in.

Highly competitive market conditions and disruptive technologies are changing the face of traditional business models and revolutionising employee and consumer expectations. The ability to adapt, having a core capability in managing business transformation and achieving business agility are crucial to sustainable competitive advantage.

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by BIE on 14 Oct 2015

Maybe it’s the mind-boggling speed of technological advancement in today’s commercial world. Maybe it’s more to do with post-recession shift in mindset. Perhaps a combination of the two?

Whatever the reason, businesses have to more flexible and faster on their feet in 2015 that arguably at any other time in history. They need to be able to respond ever more quickly to market moves, competitor threats and disruptive technologies.

This new order is, arguably, turning the traditional transformation model on its head.

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 14 Oct 2015

Business transformation, as opposed to everyday incremental change, can take many forms.

But, according to the people who’ve made a career of advising in major turnaround situations, there are a number of key challenges common to any significant transformation project.

For Paul Siegenthaler a veteran of transformations on both sides of the Atlantic, there are three main considerations.

“First, is that if your business has come to the view that it needs to change because there is a problem or it’s losing money

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by Giles Campbell on 14 Sep 2015

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).

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by Ruth Moreland on 14 Sep 2015

Ruth Moreland is a career Interim specialising in Programme and Project Management, programme managing business and HR transformations, HR projects and initiatives on a global scale.

What are the key challenges organisations face when managing business transformation?

For me the key challenge is around the organisations ability to identify, understand and plan appropriately for the people side of the transformation.In my experience, organisations are good at the strategic, operational and budgetary plans, but often the people implications of the transformation are not considered, considered too late or are very much underestimated.

The other challenge is related to the size and the length of a transformation. Often the focus is on getting to a certain point, but failing to realise that embedding the change will take a long time, probably years. During a recent assignment we identified that our target operating model was going to be a three-year transformation. Two years into that programme there was still much that needed to be done – so even within the HR environment, we’ve probably underestimated the scale and duration of that change.

Finally, the other thing is that you can be caught out if you don’t reassess and re-evaluate as you journey through the business transformation. Things are changing all the time and you do need to have that constant eye on whether the roadmap is still appropriate.

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

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by Paul Siegenthaler on 14 Sep 2015

Paul J Siegenthaler has helped numerous merging or acquired companies to integrate successfully, and has driven major business transformation programmes across Western Europe and North America, ensuring they deliver the business case their shareholders had been promised.

What are the key challenges organisations face when managing business transformation?

There are three main challenges. First, is that if your business has come to the view that it needs to change because there is a problem or it’s losing money, the chances are you are already struggling more than you think.

The second is properly understanding that the people you’re most likely to entrust with a transformation are likely to be your good people. They’re almost certainly good because they’re maximizing their capabilities and capacity. Underestimating the bandwidth required to focus on a transformation as well as Business as Usual is very common.

Finally, you’re unlikely to have all the skills you need for a transformation, no matter how capable your people are. Really understanding how things could be done differently usually requires an external fresh pair of eyes. Only when you really understand the ‘from’ and ‘to’ can you begin to have honest conversations internally.

In your experience, how are organisations approaching managing business transformation? What works/fails?

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by Jim Gunn on 14 Sep 2015

Jim is a recognised professional in helping companies in strategy validation and implementation, including the design of target operating models.

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

There are a number of things to consider, the first being how to create a powerful and compelling narrative about the business strategy and roadmap so the leadership and workforce expend discretionary effort above and beyond their normal day jobs to ensure successful delivery. It’s important to keep the story fresh and invigorated so it continues to resonate over a multi year journey.

You then have to agree an end state target operating model (ToM) based on the business strategy with all relevant stakeholders, before you initiate and maintain coherence and alignment around all elements of the new target operating model i.e. technology, organisation, people, process, performance management, interaction with customers, partners, suppliers and regulators

Another challenge is how to sustain this coherence in a dynamic market environment with changing customer needs, possibly an evolving, immature supply chain or emergence of new disruptive technologies.

It’s also important to manage and prioritise the programme scope of work to demonstrate early success, and generate change momentum, while at the same time managing the sourcing, vendor and resourcing strategies as part of a complete programme management framework to balance efficiency, value and delivery risk.

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by Celine Clark on 21 Aug 2015

Celine Clark, recently appointed from Frazer Jones to a key role in BIE’s Executive HR practice, has noticed recent movements in the HR transformation market. The increased importance now being placed on the recruitment of high quality mid-level business partners is, she believes, the result of a shift in focus from strategy to culture. Here she gives her take on the rise of the HR transformation ‘back seat driver’.

There’s an old adage in the corporate world that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’.

Despite this, however, in the transformation space it feels like the wider strategic aims of the organisation have nearly always taken centre stage over the engagement of frontline staff on the ground.

That is, until the last few years. Since the post-recession economic surge began, there’s been a marked upturn in demand for mid-level HR and business partner expertise – the people chiefly responsible for delivering the cultural ‘sell’ behind organisational change.

It’s a shift borne out by the most recent international ‘human capital’ study by consultants Delloitte, which, for the first time ever, ranked culture and engagement above leadership as the number one people issue for global businesses.

We’re certainly seeing evidence of this on the ground, with our clients becoming increasingly active in the communications and engagement space.

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by BIE on 02 Jul 2015

BIE is continuing its strategic growth and its focus on positioning the company as a sector leader in end-to-end people solutions. The month of June saw three key appointments, strengthening both the HR and business transformation practices.

BIE Executive took three senior new recruits on board during June as part of a strategic move to further enhance its HR and business transformation offering.

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 16 Jun 2015

A range of Finance Directors from the BBC, Serco, PHS Group Plc, the Department of Work & Pensions and DS Smith attended BIE's business dinner at the beautiful Duck & Waffle Private Dining Room, London.

Led by Richard King (former deputy Managing Partner of UK & Ireland at EY and BIE's Chairman), Richard Roberts, Director of Finance at UK Power Networks discussed the successful delivery of an £80m business process re-engineering

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by Elaine Serjeant on 05 Jun 2015

Interims have always had an important place in the transformation space. BIE has been partnering with clients for years, driving their change agenda.

However, in a crisis scenario, businesses still often take what they think is the safest route and turn to one of the well-known consultancy firms for support. And why wouldn't they?

"With a high level of risk involved, I would do the same", comments Ben Hawkins, who runs BIE's Business Transformation Practice, "but there are circumstances where an alternative solution to traditional consultancy led and delivered transformation might be preferable. We are seeing a growing level of maturity from our clients in terms of delivering change. Increasingly, they like to retain ownership of their transformation projects. It gives them not only a higher level of control, but also allows them to learn through the transformation process and to create a lasting legacy within the business."

Interims offer an alternative solution. They have the advantage that you can deploy them in a variety of different ways.

You can simply deploy them to implement what the consultants have told you to do, but you can also ask them to:

Tell you what you need and walk away;

Tell you what you need and build a team to help you deliver it; or:

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 04 Jun 2015

Tracey Flashman, Telefonica's HR Service Delivery Director and Fabrice Rodrigue, Head of BIE's Advisory Services led a fascinating discussion at BIE's business breakfast at the Haymarket Hotel. 

HR Directors from top class organisations like HSBC, London Stock Exchange Group, Barclays, NBC Universal, Rolls Royce Group Plc, Kantar Group Plc and Primark shared experiences, insights and approaches to challenges faced when mobilising HR transformation.

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by Chad Horne on 04 Jun 2015

The resourcing function at mobile phone giant, Three, has undergone a major transformation in the last 12 months, putting it in strong position to attract and retain top talent in one of the most competitive sectors around. Chad Horne, Head of Resourcing, talks about his approach to the challenges he has faced.

As the first anniversary of his appointment as Head of Resourcing at Three approaches, Chad Horne talks about the challenges he faced and the approach he's taking to overhauling the mobile giant's resourcing function.

When I joined Three in the summer of 2014 it was clear that the resourcing function was very traditional in both its structure and approach.

I inherited a team that was working in a very transactional and reactive way and knew that we needed to shift to a far more strategic model if we were going to be best in class.

In the early days we were effectively back loading all of our time instead of looking forwards in a structured way. We were advertising roles and crossing our fingers, hoping the best candidates would apply. At the same time, we were so busy interviewing clients face to face that we didn't have the time to think about proactive sourcing.

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by Kate Scammell-Anderson on 29 Apr 2015

BIE were delighted to host our 'Maximising the value of your business' breakfast seminar at The Runnymede-on-Thames Hotel, in partnership with leading corporate finance advisors HMT.

We had a full room of business leaders, who joined us for a three-dimensional look at issues and opportunities to maximise value, when looking to acquire a business, sell their business, or prepare it for a future investment round.

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by Nigel Batty on 18 Mar 2015

If we accept that the human reaction to an imposed change is shaped by culture as much as by experience, then it follows that any approach to managing change needs to be adapted to take account of the prevailing organisational culture. Sounds obvious and straight forward?  In theory, possibly; in practice, rarely!

First, let's establish what 'organisational culture' means in this context?

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by Nigel Batty on 02 Dec 2014

Visit the Business section of any major bookshop and you will find a yard and a half of change management text books. Each setting out the authors 'Framework for Change', proffered as THE systematic and step by step guide to effective delivery of business transformation.

Equally every major consultancy or project management qualification will offer its 'own-brand' methodology as a USP for their services.

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by Maria Rodrigues on 06 Nov 2014

Any transformation consultant or programme manager will advocate that having the right sponsorship is one of the key critical success factors to any transformation. 

In fact, many that work as an interim or a consultant, such as myself, will pay particular attention to this question during initial contact with a prospective client: does the planned transformation have a sponsor and is (s)he the right one?

What should you do in the following - and unfortunately realistic - scenario: the transformation is advanced but your sponsor has left the company, either voluntarily or not?

The first advice that many of you offered was to minimize the chances of being in this position. When considering a new role, doing due diligence on the company, discussing the role with the sponsor and other executives, meeting as many people as possible, can often highlight red flags. For example, if there is no obvious fit with the company strategy or if there is no general support for the transformation, the project is more likely to fail.

Once you have landed the role, the second pro-active action one can take is to continuously identify a back-up sponsor – i.e. have a plan B. If the transformation has a solid business case and several supporters, there should be a few possible candidates.

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by Nigel Batty on 24 Sep 2014

There is a school of thought, largely found amongst those who see managing change as just another part of a line manager's portfolio of responsibilities, that if the change is communicated clearly enough, the change is being managed.

At one end of this spectrum are the command and control types who rely on the 'Just Do It' email from the top. Assuming that the combination of a hierarchic 'Shock and Awe' effect coupled with the threat of dire consequences for non-compliance will do the trick.

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by Gordon Whyte on 22 Jul 2014

Psychological contracts are nothing new. Once the favoured buzz-phrase of 1960s HR managers, they had something of a renaissance following the economic downturn of the 1990s. The most recent global financial wobble, and subsequent green shoots of recovery, have brought them, or at least the concepts behind them, back into focus.

Most of the debates about psychological contracts today follow traditional patterns.

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by Nigel Batty on 02 Jul 2014

Driving successful change demands active engagement and change leadership at every level of the business. In my experience, technology led projects and programmes are quick to develop clear strategies for engaging the top of the organisation as leaders and equipping the bottom of the organisation to work in a new way. Too often, there is a blind spot for one of the most critical stakeholder groups in any organisation – the middle managers.

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by Ben Hawkins on 06 Jun 2014

As part of the BIE Executive commitment to be at the forefront of business transformation thought leadership, we asked a leading FTSE100 change management director to reflect on three years of involvement in a complex, global shared services programme.

Talking with my peers, I hear among the war stories some very different experiences of working with interim managers. These range from the sublime to the disastrous.

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by Nigel Batty on 23 Apr 2014

In my experience of working in technology led change projects, it is often the case that the business (and sometimes the rest of the project team) see the Change Management as either the 'fluffy stuff' or as the "Department of Dark Arts".

In either case, this has the effect of positioning change management as semi-detached from the technical or process-led mainstream of the change with separate and perhaps less rigorous planning and reporting expectations.

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by Nigel Batty on 13 Mar 2014

Over the next months, Business change expert Nigel Batty explores the challenges organisations face when leading change management, drawing on his own vast experience in the field and including insight gathered from his peers in a series of discussions on the "BIE - Leaders in Transformation" Group on LinkedIn. He starts at the beginning with "The Vision Thing".

How often do we see an energetic, highly capable and well-meaning change project leader at the helm of a poorly defined project take the team away for a dynamic kick-off event, at the heart of which is an exercise for the project team to create "The Project Vision". The activity is creative and highly engaging for the team; the outcome is a suitably pithy and motivational expression of what the project team believes that it will deliver.

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