Ash Carter meets with Andy Nice to talk about his career and how he climbed the ladder to Director level, as well as the challenges he faced along the way.
What were you responsible for in your last role?
As Transformation Director at a high profile yet loss-making retailer, I led the shaping, management and delivery of the turnaround programme. This required significant, joined-up change across virtually all areas of the business, including a restructure of the entire organisation (head office and stores), the overhaul of core IT systems, the complete refurbishment of the UK store estate and the introduction of a global culture and engagement programme.
What career journey have you taken to get to where you are now?
I joined Accenture after I left university and spent 7 years working all over the world on a host of major IT transformation programmes. This provided a solid grounding in consulting as well as equipping me with the tools and methods to deliver effective change. I then joined a niche change consultancy, specialising in restructuring organisations to enable them to deliver their strategy. This provided senior client exposure and a number of high profile credentials that led to me being offered the role of Transformation Director at the struggling retailer. I also have my own consulting business that allows me to do some contract consulting work between permanent roles.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in your last role?
Very often, the changes that need to be implemented in order to fix an organisation are straight forward enough. However, the real challenge lies in winning over the ‘hearts and minds’ of key sponsors within the business to commit and go through with it. Telling a client or sponsor what to change isn’t enough; you need to work closely with them, build a strong relationship and gain their trust as the change journey is a difficult one for all those involved. During the tough times you’ll rely on those strong, trusting relationships to keep work and sponsors on track.
What was your greatest achievement in the last 18 months?
Playing a key role in taking a business – that was losing money when I joined – back to profitability. The numbers represent just how different the business is now to just a few years ago in almost every way imaginable.
What innovations would you like to see in Retail in the next 5 years?
The relationship between retailers and customers has changed completely over the last generation; customers cannot simply be ‘sold to’ anymore. Retailers should be looking to build long lasting customer relationships and loyalty, creating ‘brand fans’ as opposed to simply occasional paying customers. I see innovation in technology playing a key role in this, in particular in personalising the service with customers; offering fast delivery when it suits you best is already a reality (as Amazon have shown with their first UK drone delivery which made less than one hour from the order being placed), but this could easily extend to more tailored products, services, offers and pricing. Mass marketing is no longer an effective long term solution; it may attract customers but the only way to retain them is personalisation.
How do you see the role of Transformation Director developing?
I think leaders in all consumer facing industries are realising the need for their businesses to keep up with the ever changing customer needs and habits, opportunities through technology, innovation and challenging market conditions. Businesses need the agility and capability to change in line with the above in order to survive and then thrive. I think that having the expertise and focus of a Transformation Director permanently within your business to ensure such widespread change is delivered in a swift, effective and joined up way, will soon become more and more common.
How do you go about getting the best out of your people?
Be authentic, be honest and set the right example. Do what you say you will, keep your promises and always give it your best and invariably those around you will do the same.
How do you attract and retain talented people?
Provide great opportunities for people both to show what they can do, as well as always stretching them to grow and develop. The opportunity will often be enough to get good people in the doo but, the show of faith, ongoing support and encouragement to develop is what makes them stay.
What advice do you have for any aspiring leaders?
Think of those people who have inspired you in your life and, in particular, about how they did this. Be like them as much as possible. Also, take a moment to remember leaders who have had the opposite effect and vow never to make their mistakes.
If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice, what would it be?
Go back a year, bet the mortgage on a Leicester City, Brexit, Trump treble and then quietly retire.