This may be considered a rather sweeping generalisation, but if you were to describe a typical Tech pro, then Richard Thorpe from FE fundinfo would probably meet many of your criteria. A leading expert in his field, Richard’s brain is usually so far ahead that he forgets to look up and take people with him. He is so fascinated by the problem that he is not naturally likely to communicate the solution. None of which really pose a challenge for Tech pro’s working among other Tech pros, but when the Tech pros are at the top of their field, they need to reach out into the wider business and engage non-Tech pros. This was Richard’s challenge with his fellow leaders.
Richard Thorpe is the Director of IT at FEfundinfo, the UK’s leading investment ratings and research agency, so, as the department lead, he undoubtably needs to influence at board level
A Common Challenge
This is a common challenge uncovered by The Network – department heads, functional leads, small business owners, anyone in a position of authority and trust who is expected to stand tall and firm and deliver strong leadership having no supporting crutch to help them and no-one to, well, just talk things through.
It can be awfully lonely at the top.
So here we have Richard, a highly capable technical professional. Someone who delivers results, recognises technical challenges and motivates his team. But, and here is the rub, his voice was lost outside his department. He needed some guidance, coaching and a little bit of newly inspired confidence. And this was our brief from Emma Hanny, the HR lead at FE fundinfo. Emma wanted to upskill Richard and take him on a journey to find his voice and raise the profile of IT within the business. Uspire, the selling, negotiation and leadership skills provider, took this brief and instantly knew that The Network was the correct vehicle in which Richard should take his journey.
The Network is a unique blend of business coaching, peer to peer learning and thought-provoking events. It is designed for high potential leaders who wish to fast track their commercial development and join a network of like-minded professionals.
And this is the value in the Network: the peer-based learning and insight that comes from forming new relationships across a variety of non-competing sectors. This diversity unlocks fresh perspectives and new thinking that really stimulates faster development.
It was the social nature of The Network that really spoke to Emma and convinced her that it was what Richard needed. The interactions and energy that comes from the small group debates can forge new learning pathways that very quickly produce exciting results. And never was this demonstrated more clearly than when Richard started with the Network.
Personal Business Coaching
Part of the Network experience is one-to-one business coaching with an accomplished and energetic business coach.
Richard meet Richard.
Richard Beaumont, ex McKinsey’s, is the chair of the London POD [the Network is split into regional POD’s], who took on the challenge of prising Richard from his IT-induced comfort and introducing him to the spiky world of commercial leaders.
Richard Thorpe’s focus at FE had been driven by a need to problem solve, with only small regard to the need to communicate the business value; whilst any communication that was produced didn’t speak clearly to the business, invariably too technical and jargon rich.
The ramification being disengagement with the IT department from the key stakeholders.
It was therefore the job of Richard Beaumont and the London POD to work with Richard and unlock his inner commercial-being, bringing him into a world which he may not best best suited, but, in his capacity of a department head, one in which it was essential he habitate.
And this is when Richard’s transformation began. It is a well-worn cliché, but when someone describes their own experience as life-changing, it is worth taking notice. Richard began to understand the value of simple, clear communications. He started to think like a commercial being rather than a Tech pro. He realised the importance of distilling the needs and complexities of the department and putting it into plain speak.
Richard appreciated the feedback and contributions from his POD colleagues which, in keeping with the principles of The Network, was delivered and received in a non-threatening manner. He took huge value from their supportive and constructive input, and was able to speak openly about his challenges without the fear of stigma or judgement.
The transformation of Richard did not go unnoticed. Emma Hanney, Richard’s sponsor was literally stunned by his change. She speaks of him becoming a different human being. One who is freshly energised, engaging and has risen to the challenge. She believes he has certainly changed his voice, reaching out from the comforting techno speak within his own department and translating this into pitches and explanations that draw in the rest of the business, rather than turn them away.
He has begun to seek out learnings from other departments and look at opportunities for growth through the application of IT. He is much more engaged with other functions and can speak confidently with other senior stakeholders about their challenges, offering insightful and valuable suggestions.
And Richard continues to grow. The Network is a process of continuous and adaptable learning, focusing on the real business challenges faced by its members. And because each session is geared to the individual needs of the members it produces quick results. Learning from The Network is key to it’s success. The continuous input of the coach and peer group means that it is an ongoing process of development and growth. The Network is about progression. It’s about using the value brought by all POD members and working through personal business needs.
Richard’s journey has only just started and through the support he is receiving from Richard Beaumont, his POD colleagues and his sponsor, Emma, it is no longer lonely at the top.
Listen to Richard speak about his experiences with The Network and learn more about how The Network can help your professional growth.