As we navigate this brave new world of work, the idea of transformation could be seen as something of a given.    

After all, there are not many organisations left unchanged by the pandemic and the economy needs innovation and new ideas to be delivered in order to fuel recovery.  

At Maru Search & Consultancy, we think that, maybe more than ever, business change and transformation specialists are the lifeblood of understanding and managing the vision of business founders and boards across the UK. 

Here, Maru founder Hannah Waddington explains what makes change professionals so special and how they can harness their superpowers to support business in the coming months.  

Q: Hannah, tell us a bit about your background in transformation and change recruitment. How did you get into it and what were your early experiences? 

A: I remember it well because I learnt the hard way that change recruitment is not easy! I moved to Edinburgh on a secondment and was lucky enough to be given four project manager (PM) roles with a financial services company. I spoke to so many PMs and they all sounded great! Very personable and seemed to have loads of experience. I put together a shortlist, confidently sent it to the hiring manager, and organised a meeting to go through them. Well, he tore me to shreds. I was way off the mark. That was the day I discovered that you really need to understand the change space to get this right. Knowing the right questions to ask is key as you have to probe and probe to fully grasp the technical skills, softer skills, and experience they need. PM roles vary quite dramatically. You also need to know how to full grasp the credibility of all of the candidates. All of this comes down to experience and doing it over and over (and over) again. But once you ‘get it’ you definitely get it. 

Q: In your opinion, what makes a great change and transformation professional stand out from the crowd? 

A: That is a hard one to answer as all change roles are so different (see above!). I think it comes down to how they can influence the people around them. You can have all the technical skills, know all the methodologies, speak the right language. But as a project manager, for example, the success of your project really is down to when and how your team and your stakeholders deliver the work you need them to. Project work is the opposite of ‘BAU’. It is deadline and delivery based so, whether you work for a bank, a retailer or the NHS, there are always ramifications if projects are not delivered on time. You also need to be flexible and to be satisfied with going with what is essential rather than what is perfect. The best project managers I have met tend to be very calm, have a sense of humour and don’t take themselves too seriously. It is a stressful job so you cannot let it get to you.  

Q: Where are the big wins for change professionals in terms of supporting businesses recovering from the pandemic? 

A: I think that change professionals need to be led by the business, rather than the other way around. Getting the requirements right is going to be essential and for most projects, a truly agile approach is going to be key. The world is constantly changing. Listen to your business stakeholders, listen to your customer, react and learn quickly. Do not be afraid to fail. From industry to industry this is going to differ.  

Q: What advice would you give people looking for business change roles and those looking to progress in their careers? 

A: The change market is currently tough but is improving and our intel tells us this is going to pick up. We are expecting to see movement in the market over the summer with experts expecting record levels of resignations in the coming months. I think the most important thing to remember is that companies are looking for two things when it comes to change professionals. They want a safe pair of hands, and they also want the RIGHT solution, not just the one that makes sense on the surface 

Q: How does it feel re-engaging with the community? 

A:  It has been great. Change recruitment is my home. I am really looking forward to using my experience with old and new clients, and I genuinely believe that change is the new BAU. Continuous improvement, flexibility, agility, spontaneity. We have to learn to be comfortable living in this new world, and the seasoned change professionals in particular are going to be crucial to this.  

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This post was written by maruhrstaging

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