- Shane Heywood
Will Bachman 00:03
Hello, and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host will Bachman. And I’m excited to be here today with Shane Heywood, who’s an Umbrex member. He’s an alum of strategy and, and an independent consultant based in the UK. Shane, welcome to the show.
Shane Heywood 00:22
Thanks for having me. Will, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Will Bachman 00:25
So Shane, why don’t you just give us a quick overview of your practice, I know that you do a lot of work around transformation, a lot of work around PT PMO, and go to market but just give us a little bit of overview on your practice.
Shane Heywood 00:40
So for the last three or so years, you’re right, well, I focus primarily on I guess, two different areas, PMO and transformation. And then the second one would be go to market. So in go to market, I have focused on digital and physical goods, working with clients to help them come up with strategies as to how they can launch drive, and really get the best out of the projects and initiatives that they’re looking to lead.
Will Bachman 01:08
That’s fantastic. And you have an interesting background, right. So just tell us a little bit about where you grew up, and you’ve moved around a little bit.
Shane Heywood 01:16
Yes, I’ve had the chance to do that. So I was born in Jamaica, and then I moved to Canada at the age of 12. I lived there until coming to the UK around 11 years ago, originally for grad school, but then I ended up joining a management consultancy firm, same thing. And then had been living in the UK since then, with some of my clients, I’ve also had the chance to travel a lot to work, which has included Latin America, Middle East, Sub Saharan Africa, and Asia as well. So a variety of different experiences from different environments.
Will Bachman 01:56
So you were mentioning another episode that we did on on the show talking about diversity and inclusion. And I’m curious to kind of hear your perspective on this issue. That’s gotten so much more attention recently, you know, growing up in Jamaica, having time in Canada, in the UK, Sub Saharan Africa. Our clients asking about this issue, have you been, you know, asked to work on it all. Curious, kind of your perspective on on on, on those sorts that that sort of which has gotten so much more attention recently?
Shane Heywood 02:32
Absolutely. Like no clients have asked me to work on it explicitly, but there has definitely been conversations around how to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the workforce. So one client that I worked with was a large professional service firm and post the George Floyd events, they were having an internal discussion around what they could do to improve their improve and achieve their diversity and equity and inclusion, inclusiveness goals. I think, I guess just my personal perspective is, there are a lot of initiatives that do not a lot, but there are a meaningful set of initiatives that do a pretty good job at bringing people from different backgrounds into corporate environments. I think that there are a few initiatives that support promotion and retention of these diverse backgrounds. So a good example of that is within Canada, in the US, there was a program called inroads and What influence does is that it helps talented visible minorities get access to internships and ideally full time jobs at leading corporations like Procter and Gamble. So I was an inroad intern, I did my internships at Procter and Gamble, and then got a full time hire. There are also similar programs in the US. Another one is called sto special education opportunity. And in the UK, there’s another program called rare. And these all do the same things. They’re they’re getting use that don’t look that like typical face, or what a corporation might have used to look like. And getting them access to these jobs, getting them access to these opportunities, providing them with training and so forth. I guess where I see the biggest gap, even at my former client is that the next steps aren’t necessarily being taken. So by that I mean initiatives around sponsorship and advocacy and mentorship. I can go in and I can go into it a bit more details if you’d like. But I think ultimately it’s fine to get people within the analyst pool. But if you want to talk about diversifying the partner pool and the managing director pool, it’s what are you going to do to ensure that those who are in the building have an advocate when they’re not in the room in those crucial conversations where it’s about the promotion, or what are you going to do to ensure that they have the the kind of ninja For the very practical mentorship that they need in order to succeed. So I guess I just kind of kind of tie that up, I think there are a lot of good initiatives that have gotten even more attention since George Floyd. And the next kind of wave, and the next opportunity that I see is driving retention through sponsorship and advocacy.
Will Bachman 05:24
And so let’s say you’re advising a CEO on how to make that practical and real and implement that. What sorts of steps can an organization take to, you know, for, you know, to make to make that sponsorship happen?
Shane Heywood 05:44
I think so I think to make that happen, you need a, a program of sorts, where your most talented leaders are willing to participate in it, they are recognized and valued for participating it, participating in it, and they are willing to collaborate or partner or support with anyone within the organization that has been identified as a potential beneficiary of this support. These kind of programs also work really well, when there is some sort of structure some sort of guidance, some sort of help to even start that initial conversation. Because you can imagine that, you know, it’s not unlikely that these two people might come from very different worlds. And so even that very first conversation, just having some guidance on, these are some common talking points, this is how you can understand how you could be helped. I think, that kind of valid support, that kind of recognition is key towards helping those who need the guidance, get the guidance.
Will Bachman 06:54
You know, at least McKinsey, there’s a, you know, the kind of there’s a formal structure of this. McKinsey has what’s called a DGL, or development group leader. And that’s the, you know, the partner or the associate partner that’s assigned to look after your professional development, right. And that’s the person who writes your semi annual review, and it’s sort of the formal system. And then, but the real kind of sponsorship tends to be a bit more informal, it tends to be evolved out of a partner that you work with on a project you get along with, and then that partner, you know, has the sort of conversation with you after hours and so forth, and is the one who you give a call, if you’re thinking about what product should I take next, and so forth. And so tends to be a little bit more informal, like, how can a company try you? What steps can they take to encourage that informal sponsorship, that’s so critical? Because it seems like as soon as you start making it official and company, like structured, it tends to get a diluted a bit in terms of, you know, the, whether it’s hard to, it’s hard to kind of top down, assign it, right? So how can you make it happen that does more informal? Relationships,
Shane Heywood 08:25
I think you you’ve hit the nail on the head, because when you have that formal connection, sorry, your best connections or your best information can often come from those informal networks. And that was my experience as well. When I was in when I was at a management consultancy firm. I don’t have a magic answer. But when I have seen that workflow is when the the culture kind of creates those opportunities for people to meet and to congregate in an environment where they might normally not do so. So whether it’s your Friday beers, whether it’s your your your your quarterly meetings, whether it’s your I don’t know your annual ski trips, it’s how can you kind of create the opportunities where someone who is not necessarily in the same function, not necessarily in the same level, how can you create those opportunities for them to connect and, and in the absence of that, I do think that having some sort of company structure might be the next best bet. So definitely, you have your consensus reviewers and you have someone who is leading your consensus review on your behalf. But I’m also thinking of just something more voluntary in that respect. So whether it is a mentorship program, you have an advocate even have peer group members. It’s getting support across the entire range or seniority at the company, official or unofficial, but just at I think until you can get the unofficial channels running more easily in without support, I think official channels of difference in your teeth outside of the outside of the census or the reviewing process. I think that might be the next best step.
Will Bachman 10:16
Yeah. What do you think about for a lot of listening to this show, of course, are independent professionals? Do you have any thoughts around? How independent professionals can you make sure that they’re getting some mentorship or sponsorship or, you know, connecting with people that have been around a little bit longer to get those sorts of relationships?
Shane Heywood 10:42
I think that that would definitely be something that is individually driven. So taking a look back at my career, I found that when I was thriving most was when I had access to not only mentorship, but also advocacy. And, and since working as an independent professional, the the opportunities for professional development are definitely more ours are 100% driven by me. And so with regards to sponsorship and advocacy, what I have sought to do is to say, Okay, are there environments or networks where there are people who may have been doing this longer than I have? Or who may have even more industry experience than I have? And how can I connect with them in a meaningful way to see if not only I can be of help. But if I can run a few things by that. So I attended one of your or I guess, one of Umbrex just workshops, I think it was last week or the week prior to coding what the client wants. And in one of those breakouts, ended up connecting with one of the individuals that was in there. Now, I’m not saying that, you know, she is going to be my mentor. But I think that was a good opportunity in which I was really hopeful that I could connect with someone who might be willing to have a chat. And she was. So I guess to answer your question a bit more precisely, it’s definitely going to be something that is self driven. And it’s going to be around finding words with these communities like Umbrex ly, where you can find someone that can can be a sounding board.
Will Bachman 12:29
Yeah, yeah, that sounding board is so important. For me, when I became an independent consultant, there were a couple people that helped me out a ton. And I’ll name the resume and Rosina sama Donnie, who’s a McKinsey mom who ran her own firm for a number of years, like, oh, maybe 10 years. She, she she’s currently left independent consulting, and she’s this CEO of archeologica. And then hooking Fisher, I’m still an independent consultant does a lot of Lean ops work. So I’d known both of them at McKinsey. And they were so helpful, I check in with them every month or so. Or anytime I had a project opportunity, I just like, Hey, what should I you know, how should I price this? Or how should I respond to this client request, particularly during the, you know, proposal phase, and they were so helpful to me. I think you can do
Shane Heywood 13:22
percent. And then just to add to that, your book, your Umbrex guide, that that is, if that was ever to be printed, it’s worth its weight in gold. Because the level of the level of knowledge that is in that guide just helps anyone who wants to thrive as an independent professional, do so extraordinarily well. So my commendations to you for creating that book? Oh,
Will Bachman 13:47
that’s very, very kind of you. And listeners, I think Shane’s referring to, on the Umbrex website, we have this guide with like, 90 videos on how to set up your own consulting practice. So if you haven’t checked it out, and if you’d like access to it, let me know. So I think for anyone listening, you can’t just ask someone, Oh, would you be my mentor, you know, people will look at you. So, but it’s really, you need to just keep kind of going back to the person and asking, you know, for advice on something specific, right. And that relationship can build up over time. And I would say that there are a couple people that do that with me on a regular basis that will reach out to me, asked me for advice. Maybe they’ll show me a proposal, and I’ll give them some feedback on it. But far fewer people do it than I might have thought would. So it just requires taking a bit of initiative and reaching out to someone. And you know, like I’m willing to do it right, but very few people kind of take the initiative to ask so I guess my message to everybody is Don’t just like ask, Oh, would you be my mentor and sign up for, you know, advising me for free for, you know, a couple hours every month for the rest of your life, but just sort of take it one step at a time and, you know, ask for something very discreet and specific, hey, could you look at my website? Could you look at my LinkedIn? Could you look at this proposal? How should I price this project? You know, ask for something specific. And if the person responds, then you know, and also give them some feedback, like, Hey, thanks for your advice on that I ended up getting the project or I didn’t get it, but thanks for your help anyway. And, and then that can naturally develop. So I don’t think that will necessarily solve the problem. But, you know, more people should be, I think, encouraged to, to do that. Let’s let’s, so I know that this was not, this is not like the focus of your practice. So I appreciate you giving us your your perspective. And your your suggestions on that, Shane, problem. Let’s, let’s talk a little bit about your work. So you mentioned you do a lot of go to market work, right, I taught you break down that term for me a bit when when we say go to market project, that might mean different things to different people. Like, tell me what that includes in your in your world. If you hear go to market project, if you work on what are the different sort of pieces of that that might be included in a go to market project.
Shane Heywood 16:25
You’re you’re definitely right, in that it means many things to many people, for me go to market is when you have done your strategy. And you are now about to execute that strategy with a specific focus on a product, whether it is digital, or whether it’s a physical product. And as part of that go to market strategy, what you’re really saying is, okay, we’ve identified what exactly does success mean for us, whether it’s in terms of revenue or penetration? We’ve said, these are the different markets that we’re going to play in whether that’s from a consumer or a geographic perspective, we you said, you know, these are the words quote, end of quote, how are we going to win in terms of pricing or in terms of promotions? And then now it’s a question of, how do you put a plan in place to make sure that you deliver those results. So an example of this would have been, and this was prior to me working as an independent consultant, but it would have been when I was working with a consumer health company, and we were launching three new brands in a New West African market. And so the question was, which partners or which retailers? Will we work with? What will our price point be like? What will our promotional calendar be like? And that’s from the the, I guess, the customer perspective, customer being the retailer, because that’s a customer of the consumer health company? Now, from a consumer perspective, you’re really understanding what are the different preferences? And how does that shape the different skews that you’re going to launch? from a regulatory perspective, you’re really saying, you know, what can we bring into this country? What are the different laws? And then from an internal perspective, if you will, you’re taking a look at your revenues, your your budgets, and you’re really saying, How am I going to achieve these goals? So it for me, when I hear go to market, it’s very much a representative of what that what those words, say taking a product and carry going with it to the market?
Will Bachman 18:35
Could you walk through a case example?
Shane Heywood 18:38
I can do that. And so there is a good example of this would be working in a sub Saharan market with a what is the best example? Yeah, Sub Saharan, Sub Saharan Africa market with three consumer health products. And so what we’re looking to do was to enter a new country that we that the company did not have a presence in before. So the first part of creating that strategy, and this is a very common framework that you’re going to hear across multiple people. I think you refer to it in ag Lafley. His book, I’ve also seen some something similar to it at Dean. But really, you’re saying number one, what does success look like? And you can define that a variety of ways but for us, it was really about hitting a revenue target and selling this product at a specific number of outlets. So the first step was to say, what does success look like for us? And the next thing that we did was to say okay, in which markets do we want to play in and by markets we meant it in two dimensions. One was geographic. So within this country, which cities are you going to focus on? And then the second one was going to be in product segment. So yes, we’re in consumer health, but which segments do we think are most relevant in this market, given what we have to offer us? And then the third piece was to say, Okay, well, how how exactly are we going to do this? So that would go around the the promotion element, the pricing element, and also the distribution element. So which partners are we going to work with in terms of wholesalers? Are we going to work with distributors? What does the Salesforce that these wholesalers look like etc. So, after we’ve kind of acted, we’ve said this is, this is what we want to do, this is how we’re going to do it. And this is where they’re going to play. The most exciting part for me is then saying, Okay, over the next six months, let’s set different milestones. Let’s across how many retailers want to hit, how many distributors want to collaborate with, what’s your revenue going to be? And let’s plot these out and work towards delivering each milestone. And this is where I find it really exciting. Because you now have the strategy that you’ve created, then you’re executing that strategy. And then you get to iterate, you’re constantly seeing what’s working, what’s not working, and changing that, that that plan as you go along. And so that was a good example, where we were able to get Kevin De Sac number, but a meaningful amount of market share within a very short period, where we had no limited presence before. And it was all around just taking that strategy straight through to execution. Was that helpful?
Will Bachman 21:45
It was, could you double click on the piece around? You know, as a practical matter, how did you go about figuring out, you know, the channels that you wanted to work through? Like, which specific distributors which wholesalers? Which retailers? For a country that you’re not currently operating in? Did you kind of go on the ground? And just, you know, go meet with people? Or was it a survey? Or, you know, talk other products? Or how did you like, what information did you have to gather? How did you go about doing it? How did you make that decision?
Shane Heywood 22:23
Great question. So I’ll talk about how we did it. And then I can give a bit more detail on the information we had together in terms of how we did it, it was through formal and informal channels. So and the formal channel you’re you’re doing desktop reach or desktop research, just to see who are the major players there from a retailer perspective and a distributor perspective, and wholesaler perspective, with with these kinds of markets store and buy these me in emerging markets, things tend to get a bit less formal. So that’s when you are on the ground. You’re asking people who have you ever worked in the region or that country or a nearby country? Who do they know that could possibly be of support, and by triangulating and continuously asking, a few names will start to bubble to the surface. So it was a combination of both formal and informal channels, using using the information that was already available to us while also seeking out new information? In terms of what kind of information we were looking for it? It? It depends, and I guess I would think about how the information would vary for the retailer versus the partner that we were working with the distributor or the wholesaler. And I guess to add more context, with this client, or with this company that I was working with, they didn’t always set up their own business within a new region, they would often find partners to work with, if only for the early stage of their relationship with that country. So the question that you’re asking about the distributor, or the wholesaler is, you know, from a financial perspective, based on what you can understand some of its informal and once again, some of informal, how are they doing financially? And then from outside of that, you want to understand what’s their experience being a distributor? Have they worked with any other leading firms? Which retailers? Do they have a relationship with? What is their infrastructure looks like in terms of how many trucks they have people on the ground salespeople, etc. So it’s merely trying to understand, you know, at a very high level, their financial and operational and commercial capabilities. And from a retailer perspective, they’re, you’re really trying to see for, for it, the segment that you were aiming at, where are you going to get that 8020? So for example, if we’re taking a look at modern trade, which is with which would be the most sophisticated form of retailer that you could, you could find within that region, you would want to know that the two or three players were going to deliver literally that 80% of that segment sales. And then if you’re taking a look at the more traditional retailers, you really try to understand where do they call? Who supports them? And where can I find them? And how can I support them at in a very optimal way, which means that you’re not going from stall to stall, but you’re really also finding a good distributor or a wholesaler who has a strong relationship with them. So I guess it the information is, it’s not dissimilar across the two different categories, whether it’s retailers or wholesalers, but But equally, whether it’s for the retailer or the OCA, you really use it in formal and informal channels.
Will Bachman 25:52
When you’re entering a new country, how did you go about just initiating the discussion with, say, a retailer, you know, you know, in terms of finding the right person who’s the merchandiser for that category, and getting on that person’s calendar and getting introduced? How do you actually practically go about doing that?
Shane Heywood 26:14
It really is. Having those kinds of conversations to find out who would be the top, top two or three people that you’d want to be in touch with, and, and then also kind of creating an offer that would help to be of interest with them. So thankfully, the company that I was working with, they really had some very strong brands that were just very well known. And so when you walked in, and you say, you know, this is the company, a lot of some of them might not even know the company’s name, but they know the brands. And so those brands really act as a very powerful way of getting that door open. But even with those brands is sometimes not, it’s not always enough to be honest, I think, you then need to have a conversation with them about what are they trying to achieve? And how can your brand help them do that? And what kind of support can you give them? Whether it’s marketing materials, or whether it’s marketing insight, or sales insights, or operational insight, to help them grow up? So it’s, it’s the brands were very helpful in opening the door? But more importantly, was? What were you going to do? And what were you going to say to them, once you sat down?
Will Bachman 27:34
Let’s talk a bit about some of the other type of work that you do. I think you do a lot of transformation and project management office type work, can you you know, maybe pick a case example there and walk us through through one of those types of projects you’ve done?
Shane Heywood 27:48
I can, I think one of the most exciting transformation cases that I’ve worked on was with a, a global food manufacturer, that after a integration of another company, they had tripled the number of revenues, sorry, not the number of employees that they had, and the number of markets that they were operating in. And the I think the the kind of biggest challenges, there was one, just the order of magnitude by which they grew meant that there were a lot of new policies that they need to put in place. In addition, they had truly internationalized the company. And so they had a wider scope in terms of geography that they needed to focus on. And the opportunity that I had to work with them was originally 10 weeks. But I ended up working with them for 15 months. And we were really able to one figure out what were some of the processes that were we need to put in place to make that happen. We were also able to figure out for the different geographies, how could we share what what, how could we share across the different geographies? What they’ve learned. And I think the the kind of big takeaway that I got from that opportunity was as cheesy as it sounds, it’s it’s really truly one about people, and often being willing to kind of have the uncomfortable conversations earlier rather than later. And then I think the second piece is really about really being clear on what does winning look like and constantly referring to that. So I think if I was to give you an example of those, those people and those tough conversations, it would be something along the lines of You know, for me it was checking in with the senior leadership that I was working with, and saying over X amount period, these are the results that that we’re seeing. Is this what you were expecting Why or why not what needs to be done differently. I think it’s really interactive and solution oriented, as cheesy as that sounds, but it’s really being able to have those kinds of those kinds of conversations, knowing that they might not be easy, but ultimately, you’ll probably come out better on the other side.
Will Bachman 30:17
And what were some of the processes that you’re working to transform at that food manufacturer,
Shane Heywood 30:23
the processes were in terms of helping them get new IT infrastructure in place. So you know, when you’re when you’re when you’re almost tripling or quadrupling, the number of employees that you have, you almost want to create, you will need to create a different IT system and different approaches about how you operate your business. So it was really mapping and saying, This is how you operate. Now, this is where you want to operate in the future. How do you close that gap? Even internally, within the PMO, we also had to be pretty clear about how we went to operate as a PMO. Because in an integration, things are moving so quickly, that if they’re not if they’re not processes in place around how decisions will be made, that can be very difficult in terms of driving the results that you want to so it was a lot in terms of supporting infrastructure, but also just PMO governance as well.
Will Bachman 31:22
Yeah. Tell me about some of the tools that you use a driving that project, or other types of project management office type work? Are there any kind of technology tools that use smart sheets? Or just Google Sheets or project Microsoft Project? Or how do you what do you use to sort of track all the different action items and where things are at,
Shane Heywood 31:48
you vary depending on the client and the their openness to it, like there’s some clients where Microsoft Project works very well. And they’re very happy with that. There are some that they would want something from their view, something more accessible. So that could be something like Microsoft Excel, or I’m working from things though. And I’m just updating Gantt charts. And then you have more sophisticated clients. And I don’t really know this program that well, but I have used once or twice why notes or I’ve worked with clients who also preferred a tool called JIRA. But by and large, I think, some combination of Microsoft Project, Excel and things. So we’ll probably get you 80% of the clients that would be quite satisfied with that setup.
Will Bachman 32:39
Yeah. Yeah, I don’t know JIRA as well, either. But I know, it’s certainly one of the dominant ones, and the whole kind of it to help desk tracking and being used along with ServiceNow for kind of tracking internal requests. So
Shane Heywood 32:56
yeah. Have you done and you’ve done some PMO work, I think, well, in the past, maybe?
Will Bachman 33:02
Well, we certainly, you know, at Umbrex, we, we, you know, we do PMO projects, I’ve pretty much dialed back my own consulting practice, to focus on leading Umbrex Oh, about four or five years ago. But we end up staffing a lot of people on PMO type efforts. And usually it will be like what you say, you know, adopting whatever the client is already using. I did just do recently an episode with MDC, on who had, which would be one to check out for listeners that are interested in in different tools. He uses smart sheets, and has really built a pretty cool system for tracking projects, and the client can get access to it. And it’s a very powerful tool where you can, you know, update one database, and clients can update it themselves directly with an interface, and then it updates all the charts and so forth to save a lot of time. It kind of updating PowerPoint, so that that seemed like a pretty good system for, you know, a large, large effort with multiple internal stakeholders. Yeah, I think that was episode I think 460. But yet that episode with Andrew C, SCA, why? So he had, what other tips do you have you mentioned kind of governance. Talk to me about some of those questions that come up of governance of a PMO effort. And some of the lessons learned around that.
Shane Heywood 34:40
I’m learning Yeah, I think it comes as no surprise, but that the most interesting elements of governance is around decision making and whatever kind of framework you have, I think what we had was called rapids. whatever framework you have the earlier that you can get the answer on that the quicker that, the more likely that project is to be successful, I think and the easier will be for everyone. So for example, when I was working with a client that was a social impact organization, and they had acquired, if you will, another social impact organization that had operations in Sub Saharan Africa, the the final phase of the integration, the question was around, who would be responsible for creating strategies that took the broad global strategy, and then implemented it at the local country level. And in within Bain, they have something that’s called D four, who holds the D or the decision making, versus p, who will perform the decision and do the work. And throughout the entire integration, which was, I don’t know, let’s say over 10 months, no one had really answered that question. And so when when I had the opportunity to join them, that was one of the key questions that we really started to, we really focused on answering as quickly as possible, it’s, it’s who’s going to make the decision on what needs to happen, and then who is actually going to execute it to perform the decision. And I had the opportunity to perform the decision, which meant, you know, going into Excel, and also meant that we had the chance to travel to these different countries, which was a really cool experience. But I think there’s more importantly, it’s, it’s not rocket science, but it’s something that happens when, when, you know, the strategy leaves the the strategy, PowerPoint isn’t up anymore, and people are actually doing the work. Sometimes we forget, more often than not, more often than not actually we forget what we shouldn’t be doing and we do something else. And so I think governance specifically on decision making and ownership. That’s that’s one, that’s one area that I’ve always seen had a powerful impact on the success of a project. Yeah, absolutely.
Will Bachman 37:05
Shane, if listeners wanted to follow up with you and learn more about your practice, or reach out, where would you point them online?
Shane Heywood 37:13
They could reach out to me on LinkedIn. My extension, my name is Shane he for Echo y for Yankee wood. Or they could try my company’s page which is Portland. So p o r t l n d, Portland ventures, Inc. and on either platform, they can definitely get a hold of me.
Will Bachman 37:35
Fantastic. Well, we will include those links in the show notes. Shane, thanks for joining us today, sharing your perspective on some, you know, go to market transformation PMO and, and kind of diversity inclusion. It’s been a real pleasure having you on the show.
Shane Heywood 37:50
Thanks so much for having me. Well, I really appreciate it and once again, keep up the great work with Umbrex. Thank you.