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The lowdown on being chief transformation officer

Divina Paredes | July 3, 2014
Three executives leading some of the biggest business transformation projects in New Zealand talk about preparing systems and teams for a state of constant change.

The Transforming Organisations Panel: Craig Sims, chief operating officer, ANZ Bank New Zealand; Jo Avenell, group GM, people and capability, New Zealand Post Group; Matt Crockett, chief turnaround officer, Telecom; Stephen England-Hall, CEO, Loyalty New Zealand (moderator).
The Transforming Organisations Panel: Craig Sims, chief operating officer, ANZ Bank New Zealand; Jo Avenell, group GM, people and capability, New Zealand Post Group; Matt Crockett, chief turnaround officer, Telecom; Stephen England-Hall, CEO, Loyalty New Zealand (moderator).

The new norm these days us constant change and 'disruption'. That's the view of Matt Crockett, chief turnaround officer for Telecom New Zealand. The organisation is undergoing massive change, including a brand change to Spark in August.

"The pace of change is not going to let up," says Crockett. "You need to build change resilience of your leaders and staff."

He says as staff's confidence builds, they start to enjoy the change. "That is the dynamic you want."

Crockett, who is one of the panellists at the Sustainable Transformation forum of the Trans-Tasman Business Circle, says he has "a lovely title" to go in heading this change. But he does not want it to become "another chief failed turnaround officer".

Technology is driving the need for change, he states. It is a critical enabler of change, but it can't be the driver. "As soon as you are in a situation where it is a technology driven change programme you are in trouble," he states. "It has to be a business change programme."

You need to build change resilience of your leaders and staff.

One of the panellists, Jo Avenell, group general manager, people and capability at the New Zealand Post, says a lot of the changes in the group was driven by technology and meeting the customers' changing needs and choices on how, when and where they want to do business with them.

"People think New Zealand Post is a sunset dying business," she says. "But when you look across the group, we are anything but [that]. We are transforming every part of the business."

She says research shows 70 per cent of transformation efforts fail largely because of the cultural aspect of change, and not understanding the impact it has on the people.

"It is easy to work out what needs to be done, actually harder is the 'how'," she says.

The heart of the change is the people, agrees another panellist, Craig Sims, chief operating officer of ANZ Bank.

Sims says he was the "captain of the team" for the ANZ and National Bank merger in 2012.

"We call ourselves the new ANZ," he says. The strategy was to simplify the business and have one team looking after the whole organisation. "We have to change the fundamental business model," he says. The change involved a conversion of the core systems that allowed the bank to streamline the organisation and create a new brand.

 

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