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Entrepreneurship Influence Intrepenuership Leadership Personal development Sponsor Strategy

Opportunity to work abroad

working abroad (2)At age 44 I had the opportunity to work abroad with an Australian company that I had worked for for 4 years. I set up the European arm of Quofore a mobiles apps solution for Consumer Goods field representatives and we had done very well, so I was invited to come to Australia and become Managing Director for APAC.

Personally I have grown as a result, especially the opportunity to expand in to Asia, where my team landed a large contract with Unilever in China for 10,000 mobile users across 2000 cities. Ten years on, this is the success I am most proud of.  The reason:

  • Setting up a business in China of which I am extremely appreciative of all the advice and support from Austrade.
  • Delivering one of the most successful ROI projects for Unilever globally
  • Delivering a complex project in less than 10 months.

In Quofore I had worked with the global CEO and CFO for over 15 years, I had extreme trust and I was treated always exceptionally well.

Since joining corporate which I did just over 7 years ago I have had similar opportunities. In July last year I was given an opportunity to drive a new segment of the business, something I had been doing as a side project. My new boss backed me gave me a team and said there is no one more driven than you to make it work. This opportunity was to grow a $300 million business from 0 in the next three years.

I was amazed at the number of people who said to me, why are you taking on this opportunity you had a far more prestigious role before managing a team looking after the larger accounts.  Seven months on those same people, now get it. Proving yourself through taking calculated risks that are high profile is a great way to get noticed.  I am indebted to my boss for supporting me and creating the opportunity.

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Coaching Entrepreneurship Influence Intrepenuership Leadership Strategy

How do you construct and deliver strategy ?

Over the years I have experimented with the construction and delivery of strategy.  In the fast changing world we live in, we must always be prepared to revisit or evolve our strategies.

Here are the 5 steps to setting a strategy and delivering a strategy:

  1. Seek Feedback. Seek feedback from your peers, boss, Prospects, Customers and Suppliers: What do you need to focus on?  What is the CEO’s vision for the business in the years ahead? How are others responding to the vision?  Seek out their inputs into what you need to be focused on. What are the priorities by stakeholder? Where is the overlap?  Distil into 3 to 4 key areas. If you can note a couple of key activities required for each.

 

  1. Run a strategy session: Go to the widest audience possible to share the key areas and flush out the detail.  I sent a note to hundreds of employees across the business on the basis only 40% would turn up. That was true, but even better the spread across the business and the delight of being invited to participate was overwhelming. I was told I was mad to invite so many, but my strategy was validated with externals who knew the value of engagement early.  The input and energy in the room was incredible and my Strategic plan when I walked away, had been challenged in way not possible if you are limited to your immediate peers and team. The credit team had never been involved in this way before in building strategy and felt they could influence the direction and support what was happening.
  2. Develop plan on the page. You have now got enough on your 3-4 pillars of strategy to have a high level plan and what you expect to achieve.  This is not a final version, because has you navigate each pillar you will continue to learn and develop the strategy.
  3. Check in with stakeholders (peers, boss, Customers, Suppliers) Check in with the plan on the page, understand from them data points, potential risks, so that you go to the next stage which is putting the plan into action.  Continue to check in quarterly with stakeholders to ensure you are on the right track and also get feedback on progress.
  4. Monthly bulletin/ Webinar Once you are underway, you need to communicate, communicate communicate. How your team is progressing? What are the insights? What help you need?  Go far and wide, as people in large corporate are so removed from what is happening in other areas, they are keen to know and often keen to support.  Don’t limit your thinking, as the inputs and support can come from far and wide. Continually reference the 3-4 pillars. It helps people understand where the activity and insights fit into your strategy.  The structure helps everyone understand what your team is doing and how it fits into the overall plan.
  5. Your Team The most important part of delivering the strategy. Working closely on their plan how it aligns to the pillars of the strategy. Empower them to lead initiatives in the strategy, including evolving with peers. This is a great stretch for your team.

Remember no one expects you to have all the answers, the reason for sharing strategy far and wide is for it to be challenged and it to evolve into a highly successful vehicle for delivering a key strategy to the business.  Sharing as you learn with your wider audience takes everyone on the journey, easy to digest in small chuncks of learning, as opposed to brain dump when you have worked on a pillar of strategy for over 6 months.

Being able to develop and delivery strategy to a business is a key leadership skill.

 

 

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Career Change Career planning Coaching Collaberation Influence Intrepenuership Judgement Mentoring Personal development

How do you prepare to move from Small business to Corporate?

I thought I was alone on the need to find out how large companies work. After 20 years in tech start ups, small and medium sized business, I had a desire to understand how large business operate, how they scale, how they manage the volume of business.  I secured my first corporate gig in Salesforce.com  in my 40’s!intrepeneruship

7 years on I have no regrets, I have personally grown, I am still an entrepreneur at heart and love the opportunities that present themselves daily. The transition is the hardest personal development opportunity I have ever been through, but worthwhile.

In preparation to going into corporate from a small business here are the five skills you need to perfect:

  1. Stakeholder management:  In small business can you can afford to be dismissive and intolerant of others. In corporate you have to work at every relationship and interaction. If you don’t you can earn the reputation as “throwing others under the bus”, “difficult to deal with” .  The key to success is understanding what your stakeholders want from you, how you can help them through insights and sharing information and working as one.
  2. Judgement: Let go of it. It has no purpose and gets you into a heap of trouble.  Move from thinking about the persons annoying habits to how you can help them.  Build great relationships across the business. you cannot afford to have anyone who speaks negatively about you, as that will stop your career and find it difficult to achieve the results
  3. Job descriptions: In small business you need a versatile team that work across multiple disciplines, Job descriptions are a guide.  In corporate the need for clarity around roles and responsibilities is critical to the growing empires. In rapid growth the land grab is part of the political positioning by leaders.  Be careful when stepping over boundaries that you do it with consent.
  4. Influence: ability to change others thinking. In small business, energy and passion does the trick, in corporate asking great questions is critical to influencing.  You cannot influence by telling. You will fail fast, so learning to ask questions every day in every situation is the key to success. Collaboration is critical to working together
  5. Intreperneurship: your greatest asset to a corporate. Your ability to create and build from nothing. You are not hung up on turning the titanic, Job descriptions, perceived limitations, you bring the can do attitude, glass half full  that makes things happen.  You will inspire others by your enthusiasm and people will want to join you on your expedition. Sell this attribute as this is of great interest to corporate.

Startup opportunities in corporate is the best of both worlds. You can utilise your SMB skills whilst developing many new ones that will accelerate your development.

Today many people with startup businesses at the next stage of growth come and speak to me about how to tackle the transition from small to medium, medium to larger business. Some want to take a step up and don’t have the skills, others want to step back in the business, others want to be on the board and leave exec leadership to transition in to non exec roles. What ever the transition is you are looking to achieve, each needs a transition plan and a coach/mentor to enable the change.

I chose a business coach to prepare for corporate. Without the coaching prior and in the early years I could not have made the transition. Your new leader in corporate may have never experienced a small or medium business so the responsibilities are with you to address your gaps fast, so you can operate effectively.

As a result of developing the skills, I have definitely become a far better leader and coach.  You never stop learning, which is why career opportunities are so much fun and stimulating.