The MBS Group
is Europe’s leading executive search boutique operating exclusively in consumer facing industries.
Changing sectors: positives and pitfalls
It’s a well-known fact that businesses thrive on maintaining a consistent set of values and a corporate vision. After all, consistency is what sets certain brands apart from others. But what happens when a brand starts to falter? Often, companies turn to executive change in order to shift focus and stimulate renewed growth. The impact of a high-level change can be extremely positive, but there are numerous pitfalls to watch out for. This week, MBS’s consumer practice head Mike Roberts hosted a breakfast with Nina Bibby, the current Barclaycard marketing chief who has experienced several big career shifts, in order to highlight some of the issues surrounding change at executive level.
Nina’s experience has taken her through both changes of sector and of business size. One of the most challenging steps in her time as an executive was her transition from FMCG giant Diageo to InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG); Nina explained that the increased focus on operations at IHG was a world away from her strategic role at Diageo, for instance. Apart from overcoming the challenges of a shift in functional outlook, though, there are lots of other ways in which executives can influence their impact and effect on a new business.
When coming in at executive level, technical skill and conventional business acumen are often less important than natural leadership qualities and ability to assimilate into a new culture. Quick wins are vital, both in order to get direct colleagues onside and in terms of learning what works and what doesn’t within a new working environment. The ability to adapt to the prevailing cultural language and tone is crucial, too; sensitivity to buzzwords and the dialects of the workplace can be very useful in ensuring that the bedding-in process goes as smoothly as possible.
Having said that, it can’t be denied that it can take a substantial period of time to become truly familiar with one’s surroundings. For this reason, it is crucial to have an effective, visible mandate from superiors. In this McKinsey Quarterly article, discussing behavioural change within organisations, the authors argue that “It isn’t enough to ensure that people at the top are in line with the new ways of working; role models at every level must ‘walk the talk’”. This has connotations outside behavioural thinking, too – leading from the front and showing a willingness to adapt are two of the most important aspects to an executive confronting sector change.
Over a fantastic morning, we covered many other things that stimulated thought and discussion; what do you think is the most important factor in sector change? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and have a wonderful week-end.Category: Discussion breakfast
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