Why Hire a Transformation Director? Everything You Need to Know.

Written by EO Executives on Mar 21, 2018

Why Hire a Transformation Director? Everything You Need to Know.

Exclusive Q&A with Suraj Bithal - Change and Transformation Director

With numerous businesses going through major change and transformations to ensure they stay sustainable, relevant and profitable, it is paramount they ensure the best resources are in place. Organisational changes are crucial times and are both challenging and resource heavy. The idea of a change or transformation is to resolve a significant issue affecting the business, and thus, how that is resolved will determine the future of that organisation. 0.jpg

Of course, change and transformation projects can be carried out across one area of the business- to solve a particular functional issue. But, the result will have a domino like effect on the rest of the organisation. Therefore, there is no time for mistakes.  

This is when many organisations engage highly experienced interim experts, to join there organisation for an interim and support them in achieving their goals. 

Founded on Interim ManagementEO Executives work with organisations to source the best Interim Managers for their specialist assignments. So, to give you a better insight we collaborated with Suraj Bithal, an expert in his field. With over 15 years' experience in IT Change and Transformation, Suraj has holistic transformation expertise aligned with IT Infrastructure and business acumen, and has also worked with high profile clients, including:  Lehman Brothers (whilst in Administration) PWC, Vocalink, and Monitise. 

What makes Suraj the ideal person to talk to is that he has worked on both the client and vendor side. Understanding both what a client looks for in an Interim Manager and why they would engage them; what knowledge and skillsets are needed to succeed.  

If you're interested in reading the expert opinion on everything you need to consider before, during and after a transformation, continue reading... 

1. Why would client engage your services? 

Tough question. I believe that in order to put an organisation in a position to grow effectively and consistently, the leadership and the management team must embed some key characteristics into the organisation and I hold these values in high regard.  

I have always put my successes down to embedding these into the culture I would want to see in any company. These not only make a change leader effective but will also pave the way for transformation. 

There are five crucial elements needed for success: 

  1. Be self-motivated and self-managed.  I am a thorough believer that effective transformation leaders find motivation from within and use that as the driving force to effectively manage the direction of the programme of work. If leaders and their management have a passion for what they do and ensure that their values are aligned with the organisation you work with, its already on the road to success. 
  1. Make difficult decisions:Difficult decisions are a part of being a leader, that’s part of their role. Transformational leaders do not back away or put off tough decisions. Difficult decisions are made easier when decisions are aligned with clearly defined vision, values, goals, and objectives.  
  1. Check your ego: When placed in a position of power, it is easy to let your ego get the best of you. However, transformational leaders keep their ego in check and do not let it get in the way of doing what is best for business.There is a difference between ego and confidence. The benefit of checking your ego ensures you put the company first over personal gain and encourages the best input from others within the organization — When the company succeeds, you as a leader have a success on your hands. 
  1. Take the right risks: Anyone can take a risk. Transformation leaders take calculated risks that more often than not result in positive outcomes. Trusting your instinct, as well as your team to gather the necessary intelligence is important. Trusting your gut is easier when you have taken the time to research, evaluate and inform your decisions with input from those around you. Failure to take the appropriate risks and make these difficult decisions will inhibit change and your ability to grow.
  1. It’s a journey not a sprint: It is key in today’s world to understand mind-sets and have the ability to take those with both open and closed perceptions of change along a journey. This takes time and perseverance. Each stakeholder has an objective, be it the IT director with legacy issues or the HR director with stagnant processes, they are all part of transformation 


What do you need to know before you can start any transformation? 

Great question- I usually follow the basics everyone should ask before starting any wholesale change. 

  • Why – What is the business goal? How does it fit into the strategy? Define the outcomes. 
  • Measurement – It is very important to gauge and monitor throughout the course of a transformation. Define the key KPI’s the company wishes to achieve.
  • Who are the stakeholders  It is very important to ensure all stakeholders, both internal and external, are communicated to prior and during the programme of work. You risk derailing any project if business or technical needs are missed some of which cannot be addressed later. 
  • Resources – Talent, both short term and long term, is a requirement which needs to be addressed at the start of any transformation program. Executing such a project requires a specific mind-set, a different mind-set from the traditional run model. The pressure can be seen as intense, the risks may now be seen as a lot higher and people can react in different ways. A review of the current and a list of the required is vital to the successful start of any transformation. 
  • Target Operating Model  This is paramount to any discussion on transformation as many people underestimate what is required to evolve to a new TOM. The implications from an HR, Finance, Recruitment and Operational perspective are huge and must not be ignored. Many of these departments will not have been through such a vast change to their business and may require assistance to educate and progress the requirements. Even some of the most senior figures in businesses have not been through a transformation and must never be afraid to bring in experts in this field. 
  • Communication and Perception – Let’s not fool ourselves here, Transformation is about changes and when you undergo change some aspects of your business will also change. Employees may have to learn new skills or processes. Their daily routine and tasks might change. The majority of people do not like or are uncomfortable with change, this emotional intelligence aspect needs to be addressed. The question has to be asked as to how you are going to manage the employees’ response to this change ? 

What is the main benefit of hiring Interim Transformation expert to lead change? 

Interim Transformation professionals have a unique approach to problems. 

They are excited by crisis and problems. They are used to thinking outside of the box to resolve challenges. Transformation experts love to take the strain and make decisions. 

Spend 30 minutes with a change professional and you will be invigorated by the enthusiasm and the ideas. 

That’s what makes bringing in external experts refreshing. They offer the perfect platform from which to create positive change and they arrive with a complete manual of transformation experiences, something you cannot produce from within. 

On many occasions, it is difficult to see the positives within your organisation but having a fresh set of eyes land re-engages staff, managers and creates a positive vibe. 

I really believe that the traits brought to the table are vital to any organisation thinking about transforming. 

What are the Key Challenges business must consider before a digital/IT transformation? 

Transformation is not just technology, its more than that. It impacts the core and culture of the company from top to bottom. Many businesses ignore the fundamentals of a transformation and they must consider the below to succeed 

  • Organisational resistance to change 
  • Lack of clear vision 
  • Disparate Data and Management Information 
  • Legacy technology stacks and development processes 
  • Shift in the business model 

I have seen many transformation programs stagnate as they uncover the above challenges piece meal. Companies need to have the strategy, the people and the vehicle to address these before you action any communication. 

What are the biggest pitfall/risk to be mindful of?  

In my opinion, one of the key areas to be wary of is the people factor. This risk is so frequently undermined.  There are so many facets involved in ensuring that the human element of transformation is a success. I have seen so many over confident managers fail as a result of believing that people will simply sit and be content while their workplace, the place where they spend more time that at home, evolved around them. Dealing with the human elements is a core skill that experienced transformation interims can bring to the table. They will work with HR, Recruitment and finance to ensure all these areas which impact people are on the same page and understand their role in the change. 

How much of an important role does understanding the culture of business have on the outcome of a transformation?  

It is huge!  The business is all about the culture. It is one of the reasons we come to work every day. The art of transforming the company is to deliver the end goal with least impact to service but also to morale and the people. Embedding yourself into the culture of the company is paramount for any transformational interim. You need to live and breathe company to understand how any change you initiate will impact the organisation. I find that working with HR, the senior management and executives will provide the feedback you need to understand what the risks are and what the risks will be with any strategic plans. 

When finishing an assignment, how do you approach transferring the knowledge and learning leaving a legacy behind? 

Throughout the assignment, this is a constant checkpoint. As the transformation progresses, each phase or change needs to be assessed from a legacy point of view. The people and the process need to be identified to ensure they are the correct fit for the long term and if the change is short term “placeholder” whilst the bigger picture embeds itself, a plan has to be in place which incorporates the transition period. 

I believe a good interim will identify the traits required and the tweaks to processes required ensure that the organisation does not slip back into its old ways. That’s the experience the experts bring to the table. They have the scars, they have seen it all before and they have a toolbox to fix it. 

Connect with Suraj on LinkedIn, here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/suraj-bithal-530606/

What would be your main reasons for hiring a Transformation Director and skills/behaviours should businesses look out for? Be sure to share your thoughts below. 


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