Previously a Managing Partner at James and Carmichael Consulting (JCC), Jay has over twelve years’ consulting experience under his belt, as well as a background in operations and supply chain management where he started his career after graduating from Leeds University .
Jay is settling in to working life at Afiniti, so it seemed a good time to sit down with him and have a chat about his career to date, his areas of specialism and what he’s enjoying working on so far at Afiniti.
How did you get into change management and consulting?
“I started working for Unilever in supply chain operations, and after moving from the factory to head office I began to get involved with change projects.
“I became a super user for a project which gave me a new perspective – it was really exciting to see how I was helping to shape a new future for the organisation. From here on in I began to move away from the day-to-day business operations, getting more and more involved with project work. It’s at this point that I realised I wanted to pursue a career in business change and moved to Accenture to develop that further.”
So you’ve seen how it works from both sides then – as consultant as well as client?
“Most definitely, a lot of what we do as change management consultants involves working with senior leaders to design and plan. But, at the end of the day, you need individuals to change their ways of working and behaviour for any change to be successful. My early experience at Unilever really helps me understand the realities and challenges that clients have from a shop-floor perspective.”
“My early experience at Unilever really helps me understand the realities and challenges that clients have from a shop-floor perspective.”
What are your areas of speciality?
“I have experience of change programmes associated with a range of client objectives from new operating models to big data initiatives. On a previous programme with JCC, I worked on a pan-European project for a global healthcare client who was looking to shift their sales force up the value chain away from being transactional (order takers), towards providing a business-partner based service.
“Our involvement, from a change perspective, was to shape a programme to first of all help the leaders change their mindset about what the sales force could do, and secondly, provide the space and environment to allow the sales team to act in an entirely different way via a comprehensive training plan followed up with a coaching framework.
“The degree of change on this programme was deep, and, unsurprisingly there was resistance from people who were being asked to work in ways which were entirely new. We had great success in terms of helping the sales teams to adopt the new ways of working and transferring ownership of the change to the local countries. This repositioned the client amongst their competitors and gave the sales teams a new set of capabilities with which to go to market.”
So, what attracted you to Afiniti?
“Afiniti works in a very agile way, which means we can offer a truly bespoke approach for each of our clients. In addition to this is the blend of creative and consultancy, which is pretty unique as far as my experience of consulting has been. This means that we can work with our clients from shaping what needs to be done, into executing and making it happen. And, when we make it happen, we can present it to the audience in a really fresh and engaging way. Of course, all of the deliverables and user-facing artefacts that we generate are created off the back of sound consulting expertise, and co-created with the client – that’s the other thing about the Afiniti approach, we always look for that co-creation on every project that we work on.”
How do you envisage your career experience hitherto complementing the Afiniti offering?
“A lot of my work over the past twelve years has been in the consumer goods divisions of large organisations; ranging from replacement car parts and logistics, paints, spare parts for installed medical devices, home and health care products to over the counter pharmacy goods – quite a wide range of FMCG products!
“Knowing what drives these businesses, the leadership structures, how the supply chains operate, and essentially, knowing what makes these organisations tick is a great asset. So, I would say I really have a handle on the key drivers of the FMCG industries, one of them being the focus on the end consumer.
“And, thinking back to agility which we mentioned before, the ability of these organisations to be able to adapt to environmental factors and take advantage of opportunities is paramount. We are seeing more and more that companies want the stability of long-term growth and also to be nimble and agile, to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. I think it’s going to be a growing trend, certainly over the next year or two, as people start to understand what agility means, and then implement ways to achieve that. Whether it involves embedding new operating models, new asset management systems or upskilling the workforce, we’re ideally placed at Afiniti to help our clients achieve these changes.” For more information on organisational agility and adopting an agile mindest, take a look at Jay’s latest blog post, Agility – moving beyond the buzzword.
“Whether it involves embedding new operating models, new asset management systems or upskilling the workforce, we’re ideally placed at Afiniti to help our clients achieve these changes.”
What do you most enjoy about what you do?
“I feel privileged to be working with clients when they are going through times of significant business change. We really help to move the leadership teams, as well as the people within the organisations, along through that change – and we do it in a truly engaging way, which for me combines the best of consulting and creative to create high impact change that lasts.”
Do you feel a sense of responsibility?
“Initially when working with clients you have an idea of the things you want to work through with them. Then, when you get in to the project you often realise that there are some hugely impactful things which could be done, instead of, or as well as, the things we’d originally planned to do. So, there’s constant reflection and thinking around ‘what’s the most value we can add right now?’ This is what’s great about being an agile consultancy – at Afiniti we can pivot and change what we deliver – if we think it’s the right thing to do in mutual agreement with the client!”
What do you get up to in your spare time?
“During the weekends and evenings, I spend as much time as possible with my wife and young daughter, I like to read fiction novels to relax and enjoy expanding my food and wine knowledge. I’m also the proud owner of a Triumph Scrambler motorbike, which I get to ride very occasionally!”