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We live in an age where disruption is no longer the exception, but the norm. However, many organisations are still struggling to realise the benefits of their transformation efforts.

Partly because transformation is such a big concept to comprehend, partly because it challenges so many of our assumptions and ways of being and working. It is hard to let go of what is familiar and take a leap into the new and somewhat unknown.

Organisational transformation is hard for many reasons. Developing and executing on a transformation strategy involves thinking differently, challenging the status quo, and having a long-term orientation. Changing the culture of an organisation to enable new ways of working, to embrace digital practice, and better meet employee and customer needs, is a challenge even the most experienced senior leaders trip over.

Daryl Wright, the inaugural president of the Queensland chapter of the Australian Transformation and Turnaround Association, recognised the challenges of transformation and decided to tackle them head-on. Daryl was a participant in the first QUT cohort of transformation professionals who undertook the Transformation and Complex Change Program – now known as Activate: Transformation eXcelerator.

Daryl came to the program as an established and well-regarded consultant in change and turnarounds and as a well-respected transformational leader, however, even someone as experienced as Daryl was, at times, challenged by the need to think differently, take on new perspectives and explore the possibilities of transformation.

Read on to learn about Daryl’s experience in the program…

Who or what influenced/inspired you to apply?

I wanted to upskill and came across AusTTA. The course provided a pathway to certification and Fellowship of AusTTA. I was drawn to the course content and felt I could both benefit and contribute to the course.

After hearing the course leaders and AusTTA speak at the course briefing held at QUT I decided that this could enable me to upskill in an area I was particularly interested in and which has shaped my career. My view was this would take me to next level.

What was your personal growth story?

I was qualified as a Chartered Accountant but in practice was always frustrated by the same advice and yet businesses seem to keep making the same mistakes. I was inspired by Turnaround professionals who impacted business outcomes across Strategy, Leadership and Culture (People). I left the profession and sold my practice to pursue a career in commerce and industry but with a focus on the “difficult” turnarounds or transformations.

I invested in leadership training and from a small humble chartered accountancy practice went on to lead the international business of an NYSE listed Group. Initially led the African team and then promoted to lead the consumer division international team. Responsible for over 100 countries.

Whilst my professional qualification was accounting my passion was for leadership, strategic growth, and the impact of the human resources in the outcomes of a business.

How did this study transform you / or the organisation that you work for?

The biggest impact of the study was working with the cohort of industry specialists and learning from shared experiences. Secondly, it has enabled me to reshape our strategic advisory firm to better focus on the transformation journey of our clients. I had extensive experience as a turnaround professional but the knowledge gained from the course has sharpened the focus and made us a better-trusted advisor in the transformation space.

What was the highlight of your study experience?

There is no doubt that the interaction with other course participants was the key highlight. I enjoyed the debates and discussions. That said, some of the course material was excellent and challenged me to do further research on those topics. I feel I completed the course with a better understanding of what transformation is and should be – there is still much debate around the definition.

What advice would you give to someone looking at trying to do what you have done?

Be consistent in your thinking and planning. Invest in upskilling as we live in a knowledge season and it matters. Whether you are impacting the company you are working for or consulting this course will enable you to obtain the skills and knowledge that will set you apart from others.

If not this course QUT has other courses that may well be of benefit. Be prepared to have your thinking challenged – this essential for the greater debate and knowledge transfer.

Daryl Wright CA FAICD FTL