In our latest consultant interview, we hear from Leo on how his expertise in Service Design has supported clients around the world with complex challenges.
This joins our series revealing what it’s really like to work at OEE Consulting, profiling members of our team including Annie Glover, Sylvain Poncet, Beulah Selvaraj, Vishnu Sivakumar and Helen Meskell.
Role: Principal Consultant
Experience: 10 years in operational roles in the US Army, serving in the USA, Italy, Germany, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Chile
Education: BA in Political Science from the University of Kansas, MBA from Cranfield School of Management, Global Executive MSc in Strategic Design and Management from Parsons School of Design – The New School
Worked with OEE Consulting since: November 2014
Describe OEE Consulting in three words.
Entrepreneurial, supportive, ambitious.
What was your route into consulting with us?
Whilst studying for my MBA at Cranfield School of Management I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in consulting, specifically operations consulting. Towards the latter half of the programme I was invited to attend a recruitment presentation by OEE Consulting’s Managing Director, Mark Palmer. I was impressed by how openly he spoke about the company, and decided to go for it. I structured part of my application around Yoda from Star Wars; it was important to me that I work for a fun company, and thankfully the folks who reviewed my application had a sense of humour.
What has surprised you most about the company since joining?
The independence. On a regular basis I find myself on the other side of the country or the planet managing my own project and being responsible for challenging deliverables. I find that responsibility enormously rewarding.
It’s also full of variety; one month I could be in Coventry working on an improvement project, and the next be in Mexico and Brazil coaching regional and country COOs on how to improve their performance.
You’ve recently studied for a Master of Science in Strategic Design from the Parsons School of Design. What motivated you to take on the course, and how did you fit it in alongside your other work?
I found myself working on projects where we were helping our clients overcome challenges, which had mostly been caused by poor design, or a failure to translate the original design into operational reality.
The more time I spent on it, the more infatuated I became with Service Design and the potential it has to help our clients.
At the time I was working on a project in Mexico re-designing a customer journey and decided that I needed to take the plunge and take the course. Thankfully when I presented this to the Directors they were very supportive.
Managing my work, family life, and school can be very challenging at times. The skills that I am learning on my course and the projects that I find myself on are very complementary. In the end I find the way but not without some very long nights and very short weekends. More than one paper has been written somewhere over the Atlantic!
How have you been using the principles of Service Design to support clients?
We do so in a few ways, but we always start with the customer and what they are trying to achieve. Working in a collaborative manner, where we bring all the players together to build a truly great service, is key. We visualise the journeys, keeping them framed in the customers’ perspective to gain valuable insights into what we need to deliver for them.
For example, in a recent project building bespoke training for senior managers in a leading retail group, we used a workshop with delegates to draw out their value proposition for the course. This led to really tailored training, a full suite of courses with linked communications for delegates and their managers, and a huge amount of internal advocacy.
How do you start a project?
By listening. Our clients do not require someone to come in and do something to them. Instead they come looking for folks who will listen to their challenge, investigate it with their teams, and co-create solutions. Our clients should be the hero of the story, and we can only achieve that, and project success, if we start with our ears open and our mouths shut.
What is a typical day like for you?
On a typical day I start with a quick huddle with the project team; it helps focus the day. From there it is a mix of meetings, phone calls, coaching, and head down time. I try to have one workshop every few days to accelerate our work. I really enjoy facilitating them and their output, energy, and creativity always gives me a buzz.
With 14 years’ experience, Leo has successfully led major transformation projects in Europe, North America, Latin America and the Middle East. He regularly leads improvement and transformation projects where cultural skills are as important as technical skills. His approach is centred on coaching to ensure that the teams he works with improve as much as the business does.
Leo has recently led a the creation of a bespoke training course, approved by the Cranfield School of Management, which will support the leaders of a large retail group in navigating the business challenges of the future. Other projects have halved the processing time for new bank account openings and designed a merged operating model to bring together four different government organisations into one operation.
When not working or studying Leo enjoys exploring the world of craft beer, preferably over a BBQ grill.