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ET Project \ Podcasts

ET-060: A conversation with Ms. Brandie Deignan

With Ms. Brandie Deignan

ET-060: A conversation with Ms. Brandie Deignan

and your host Wayne Brown on August 15, 2023

Episode notes: A conversation with Ms. Brandie Deignan

Hello and welcome to the ET Project. I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and as usual, we’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET.

And team, today we’re traveling to the UK to a township southwest of London to meet with our very special guest. She’s a catalyst, a mentor, a guest lecturer, a trustee, non-executive director, a JP, an advisory board member, a CEO by day. And she’s also a twin mom. I’m very happy to be chatting today with Ms. Brandie Deignan.

Brandie is a self-proclaimed industry agnostic, and as you’ll hear shortly, that throughout her career has not only held senior roles across multiple industries where she had no background. But with each transition moved into higher office. In early 2021, Brandie joined the primary care within NHS in general practice as the Chief Executive Officer highlighting that leadership is leadership and cuts across all sectors.

Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…

“…And I think the one thing that I would say is that there is an opportunity there. And I learned very quickly when I did the first switch, that it really was about immersing yourself into the culture that you’re going into, into the new sector that you are going into and giving it your very best. Because if you do, you become very good at it. And so that is what brought it up, and that’s what’s happened. So, and as you know, we are repeatedly what we do, and so therefore, this excellence within moving in sectors has now become a habit and not just an act. So I’ve become really good at it now because I know what it feels like, what it looks like, the uncomfortable levels and all that kind of stuff….”

Today’s Guest: MS. BRANDIE DEIGNAN

Prior to the switch to primary care in NHS, Brandie was managing director at Marco Pierre White Restaurants cementing her 20 years’ experience in consumer service delivery industries across hospitality, retail, and aviation.

Before her MD role, Brandie held senior leadership positions in British Airways, Tesco, Whitbread, Travelodge and Hilton Hotels, where she started her career as a graduate trainee and worked her way up.

A true trailblazer, Brandie was the first female MD at MPW Restaurants, and as of 2020, was the first black female MD within branded restaurants across the UK. She’s presently the only black female CEO within NHS primary care.

Brandie has been named as one of the top 15 BAME high fliers in travel and tourism, and nominated in multiple other British Business Awards plus has been voted as one of the top 50 listening leaders.

Final words from Brandie:

WB: I’m wondering also about your continuous learning throughout your career. I know that you’ve completed several degrees. How do you fit that in to your busy schedule as a starting point, but how important is that to laying the foundation to your success?

BD: I’ve always thought that attention to myself as a leader is my biggest currency. And so if I don’t actually invest in myself and transform myself, I’m doing a real injustice to myself, and injustice to the people that I lead and actually injustice to everyone around me. With that in mind, I actively, and the word is active. I actively seek to transform myself in terms of further learning. It helps, Wayne, that I actually love learning. I am genuinely one of those few people that loved to go to school and loved uni and love exams. And you would find me… My siblings laugh at me because you’ll find me actively learning, even if it’s learning things that are not in my sphere.

And so there is an element of that, but we all owe ourselves as leaders or even if we are not leaders and we’re aspiring leaders and we’re listening in today, we all owe ourselves to give ourselves that attention to transform us and to make us better individuals, let alone better leaders, because that is our greatest currency.

It has been something that I focus on. And every year, I try and think about which aspect of me needs to be tweaked or changed or amended or added to. And I’ve been doing it for good 10 years now, so for the past 10 years, I’ve picked up a little bit of something every year. And it could be self-learning, it could be observation, it could be understudying somebody, it could be reading, whatever that is. I did my EMBA four years ago. Now, that’s pretty late for a seasoned leader, right? But it was important to me, and, again, I picked up the tools, but then that was a decision that I kind of made. It’s those decisions that helps to focus where I want to be…

0:00:00.3 Wayne Brown: ET Project, we’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world, whom we’re affectionately referring to as team ET. And team, today we’re traveling to the UK to a township southwest of London to meet with our very special guest. She’s a catalyst, a mentor, a guest lecturer, a trustee, non-executive director, a JP, an advisory board member, a CEO by day. And she’s also a twin mom. I’m very happy to be chatting today with Ms. Brandie Deignan. Brandie is a self-proclaimed industry agnostic, and as you’ll hear shortly, that throughout her career has not only held senior roles across multiple industries where she had no background. But with each transition moved into higher office. In early 2021, Brandie joined the primary care within NHS in general practice as the Chief Executive Officer highlighting that leadership is leadership and cuts across all sectors.

0:01:03.3 WB: Prior to this role, Brandie was managing director at Marco Pierre White Restaurants cementing her 20 years experience in consumer service delivery industries across hospitality, retail, and aviation. Before her MD role, Brandie held senior leadership positions in British Airways, Tesco, Whitbread, Travelodge and Hilton Hotels, where she started her career as a graduate trainee and worked her way up. A true trailblazer, Brandie was the first female MD at MPW Restaurants, and as of 2020, was the first black female MD within branded restaurants across the UK. She’s presently the only black female CEO within NHS primary care.

0:01:50.3 WB: Brandie has been named as one of the top 15 BAME high fliers in travel and tourism, and nominated in multiple other British Business Awards plus has been voted as one of the top 50 listening leaders. So team ET, I welcome you to what is a very dynamic and wide ranging conversation with our guest, Ms. Brandie Deignan in this episode titled, Shining as an Industry Agnostic while allowing her teams to be the star.

0:02:22.7 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:02:39.7 WB: Alright, so welcome back to Team ET. It’s been a long time since I’ve recorded a podcast, by the way. I’ve been away on holidays for a while, so it’s great to dip my feet back in the water, so to speak. And we’ve got a fantastic guest joining us today. You would’ve heard me introduce Brandie in our intro. Welcome to the ET Project. It’s great to have you on and it’s been a while coming, I have to say. So it’s great that we finally got together.

0:03:06.8 Brandie Deignan: I am so excited to be here, Wayne, and thank you for having me. And yeah, it has been a while. I am so pleased we’re doing this. Thank you for having me.

0:03:15.9 WB: Yeah. The listeners are gonna be blown away by some of the things that you’ve achieved in your career, in your life in general. I have to say, probably the first time that I’ve had the opportunity to talk to somebody with such a diverse career. I always look at myself as being diverse, but you win it hands down, say, I’m really excited to get into it. I always ask our guests the opening question. Is there anything out there that excites you at the moment? Whether that’s your own personal or professional life or external to you, anything in the world exciting you?

0:03:50.1 BD: Thank you Wayne for such a cool intro. I really appreciate it. Well, I am so excited about the next generation right now. That’s what’s exciting me. The next generation are proving to be quite something on day. They are fierce, they are smart. They want change in the world. They want peace. They want innovation. They’ve got their own mind. All the things I never was when I was growing up. So I am so excited for the 30, 20s and the 40, 20s in terms of the years going ahead. I’m really, really excited by the next generation. Each time I see them, I hear them, I get so excited.

0:04:34.5 WB: I love that. Particularly the part about peace with all the political wranglings going on around the world at the moment.

[chuckle] I very much hope that our younger generation do step up and bring some sense of calm back to, let’s say, some of the hotter topics and hotter heads in the world. So Brandie, you’ve got such a unique, perhaps even exceptional leadership career or story, which is remarkable. And I wonder if you wouldn’t mind just briefly sharing your journey from when you started to now, to give listeners a bit of background.

0:05:11.5 BD: Thank you Wayne. Well, I always say I’m still in search mode and I’ve pressed a search button and I’m still searching. But you’re quite right, my career has spanned from, initially, hospitality. It has been my… It was my first love, has been my first like probably always will be purely because when I was a teen and I was at university, I had two jobs in hospitality, within Hiltons. One in the city where I was at University in Edinburgh, and one where I lived in London. And so I almost grew up within hospitality. And true to word, came out of university. And interestingly, just didn’t even intend to stay within that sector until one of the then big bosses, as I used to call them, met me and said, “Hey Brandie, I hear you’re finishing. What’s the plan?” And I’m like, “What plan?” I’m going to look for a proper job. I’m not gonna be staying here.” And tapped me on the shoulder and I remember that really well. Tapped me on the shoulder, and goes, “Oh dear Brandie, why don’t you join the graduate program of Hilton and then when you find your proper job, you can leave.” And I’m like, “Oh, that’s a good idea.”

0:06:24.6 BD: So I did and stayed within the Hilton Student Hospitality for years and years and years, from single sites, then moved to multi-site, stayed in hospitality for a while and then went into retail and then into aviation, and now in healthcare. So I’ve kind of almost journeyed in four sectors also so far.

0:06:48.4 WB: There’s so many questions come to mind as I listen to you talking about that, and we’ll get into some of that as we go through. If you cast your mind back to when you first started as that graduate trainee, and you look at where you are now, I often work with my clients and we talk about our purpose and we talk about our vision for where we wanna go in our career. But I’m curious, when you were a graduate trainee, did you ever imagine you would end up where you are now?

0:07:22.3 BD: Wayne, you know, yes and no. No, the first couple of years because as I did say to the lovely gentleman, Grant, I was gonna look for a proper job. And it wasn’t until I fell into, and I use the word fell into it because it was a journey and did a couple of years and thought, “Gosh, I’m quite good at this.” Then my focus just started being micro-focused. And it wasn’t until I started micro focusing my own energy, my own mindset that I realized that I wanted to do more. And I think from then something switched in me and then the focus became quite gradient and it needed to keep moving to the direction that I wanted. And I know that I decided that I wanted to be a chief exec around about age 26, which was quite earlier on in my career, and there was no stopping me. So in terms of the end goal, that focus was there. But to start with, I was quite scatty. I’m still quite scatty to be fair, but I didn’t have a clue at all.

0:08:33.6 WB: I love that. I was just listening to a speaker this morning talking about the caterpillar-butterfly story and how the majority of us, myself included, and I think you are there as well, we start out as a caterpillar and we have no idea about the real potential that or the person that we will transition or evolve into longer term. I find that so much with many of the people that come on the show. The point to my story here, Brandie, is, for the listeners who are executive talents, if you’re out there and you’re thinking to yourself, now I’m still not clear about what it is I wanna be or become, you are in the majority, I would say.

0:09:19.3 BD: I agree. I agree. I agree. I speak to young people a lot, and I don’t ask them the question of what do you wanna be? Because I don’t think most of them know, but I normally switch around and go, what is it in the world or in business that really annoys you that you’d like to maybe make a change to? And then I start getting some really cool answers from them.

0:09:42.4 WB: I like that question. I’ll have to make a note of that. Thank you. So you mentioned something I’d really like to hone in on a little bit further, if you don’t mind, but I find it quite extraordinary on a couple of levels. And so you’ve now held extremely senior positions in four different sectors, and now you have this almost passion, I wanna say, based on our first conversation about people aren’t tapping into opportunities in different sectors because I don’t… For whatever reason, whether it’s they’re in their comfort zone, they’re fearful of the unknown, or taking that step. And I’d just love to understand a little bit more from your side. How did you come about shifting from what appeared to be very diverse industries? How did that come about?

0:10:38.1 BD: That’s a great question. Thank you, Wayne. So I think if I’m honest, I landed the first switch by accident, and I was pretty scared when I moved initially from one sector to the other. It really did frighten me because I was going in as a senior leader and I felt that I was a bit of a fraud really, because I didn’t quite understand that industry that was going in there. And so I had to have a word with myself around actually you just go Brandie and do your thing.

0:11:13.1 BD: And I think the one thing that I would say is that there is an opportunity there. And I learned very quickly when I did the first switch, that it really was about immersing yourself into the culture that you’re going into, into the new sector that you are going into and giving it your very best. Because if you do, you become very good at it. And so that is what brought it up, and that’s what’s happened. So, and as you know, we are repeatedly what we do, and so therefore, this excellence within moving in sectors has now become a habit and not just an act. So I’ve become really good at it now because I know what it feels like, what it looks like, the uncomfortable levels and all that kind of stuff.

0:11:58.9 BD: So I would say that there’s a great opportunity there because we are humans and we have comfort levels. Of course we do. And we like to stick to what we know. We like the tribalism of stuff. And so there are very few people, certainly very few women who are prepared to do that whole sector change. And to be sector agnostic. And for me, it’s, as you said, it’s a passion of mine to expose this conversation and have this conversation more. But to your point earlier, it was quite nerve wracking very earlier on. And as I said to you initially, I’m still in search mode. I’m quite ready to try at other sectors and stuff. But then that’s because it’s now become a bit of a habit.

0:12:49.8 WB: If I’m on the board that is entertaining the idea of engaging a new CEO to the organization, what is it that you do that convinces the board to take the risk and bring somebody in who has no prior history perhaps or to a large extent of what it is they’re doing? You must be the magician sales lady.

[laughter] I’m wondering how you go about.

0:13:16.7 BD: That’s a very tricky one actually. I think the word is intentional, isn’t it? So for anybody to sit in front of a board to say that I have done four sectors, this is a new sector I wanna come in there, you’ve gotta really kind of connect the dots and see that that person is actually quite intentional. They do things by specific design to achieve outcomes of change that they want, and that’s why they’re doing that. And that’s a skill within leadership that you probably want to buy and snap that person up really, really quickly.

0:13:49.3 WB: Right.

0:13:49.7 BD: There’s also a bit around actually that person probably has impact because it take guts to go into a new sector and make things happen. Because what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to learn and you’re trying to punch at a level so that you can have impact really quickly. And so it gives you that feeling that that person’s probably coming with a bit of impactful attitude. And you also by yourself a role model because you suddenly have a storyline of somebody that’s actually carrying all these experiences from different sectors and bringing it into your organization. And it gives you that kind of positivity and that role modeling for everybody else. And you don’t have to worry about transition, right? Because that individual is just a transition guru.

0:14:34.5 BD: They make transition meaningful, they know how to transit very, very quickly. And I think finally, you just know that you’ve got somebody who’s quite relentless. Because to go into a sector, do the BAU, Business As Usual and actually impact and have transformation, they’ve gotta be very relentless. So I think the skills that you get, it’s amazing, but actually when you drill it all down, sectors are quite similar actually, from a leadership perspective, Wayne, because people are people, products are products. And so you apply those principles quite equally. The functional expertise aspect of it, I think the senior you go, the less important it becomes because you’ve got functional experts within the organization. And so your leadership skill is what’s required. I think from a sort of mid-management perspective, it’s probably quite difficult to switch around because you still need to be a functional expert, whereas now I don’t need to know about clinical decision making, but I can still make one and so on and so forth.

0:15:38.7 WB: You make it sound very easy, but I’m sitting here visualizing the journey myself and maybe it’s somehow sector related, but I doubt it. I can imagine even so you must be a very transparent, a very vulnerable leader, willing to lay your heart almost on the table and say, “Look, I’m not the expert here. You guys are, and together we’ll find the solution.” Putting that to one side, I can also imagine that there will be those standing on the other side of the fence saying, “Gosh, what does Brandie even know? What right does she have to come into our industry as our boss and we have to start listening to her?” I can imagine there’s those type of people and you would have that challenge to overcome early.

0:16:29.1 BD: That’s so true. And you’re spot on Wayne, ’cause you’ve got the two camps. You’ve got the camps that are just very fascinated by this whole switching around and you’ve got the camps that are not skeptical, but thinking, “Okay, well, we are waiting to see.” And I think the power isn’t actually making sure that, to your point, you are very transparent and making it very clear that actually you’ve got experts in the room and the answers around you rather than the answer being you. And that itself is a leadership skill, isn’t it? Because leaders don’t have all the answers. And we have it around us, and it’s about kinda… I think it’s about expanding your repertoire around you and making sure that everybody understands that you are not the expert but what you can bring is you can bring a bit of refinement and enhancement because of the experience that you’ve got with you.

0:17:21.7 BD: But I think what’s really important is that you give the impression and you actually genuinely get excited about broadening your perspective because that’s all it is. You are just broadening your perspective. And then once you’re in that sector, a new sector, you’re then taking a closer look at that particular sector and then maybe lifting the lid around, “Okay, well in that sector, this is what we did. I wonder if we can do the application here.” And those things are the things that gain you that acknowledgement, that gains you that respect in terms of the experience that you are bringing with you. And then with time, what you then find is, you become part of the experts within the organization because you’re learning alongside them. And the aspects actually tap you into… Tap into you around decision making and your perspective, which then brings it into a very fine cocktail of that sort of senior leadership team and the organization itself.

0:18:18.9 WB: You allow yourself a time period for this whole transition to happen, or is it from day one and it’s just an ongoing evolution?

0:18:28.0 WB: It’s quite interesting, isn’t it Wayne? Because I always go with a dream list. I think everybody’s got a dream list having day. I always go into an organization with a dream list because you do your due diligence before you go. But no, the answer is no. There is no time limit at all. Some sectors are quite complex to understand. I found aviation quite complex. And so… And you need head space. Some sectors are quite energetic, so hospitality’s about energy and fun and so you need all of that.

0:18:58.5 BD: And some sectors are quite impactful, like healthcare. And so you need to go in there with your impact head on. So everything you’re doing has got be impactful. So there is no, no set timelines. It’s just about having that dream list of what impact I would like to make or what value I’d like to add or even create. ‘Cause you don’t always have to add value, you can just create the value for others to add. And it’s about knowing what that is and then making sure that that happens. But I think the trick is that, when you feel you’ve done enough, you then go and do a bit more, because that’s when that that’s kind of value is then created.

0:19:39.1 WB: I’m also wondering, we’re at this point now where you’ve been doing this for a number of years, a couple of decades. Do you or did you ever have an advisor who you had in your corner that was sort of your go-to person or maybe a team of people that you would go to for counseling, advice, coaching during your career?

0:20:00.3 BD: Oh, yes. I have always had mentors because I just can’t do what I do with mentors. I mean, like I said to you, Wayne, I am this scattiest person in terms of scattiness in brains, scattiness in ideas. And so I do need to be focused. So I do have two mentors. I get different things from each of my mentors. They both achieve the things that I feel I would love to achieve. And so that’s really, really helpful. And I also do have a coach, a professional coach, which is… Which between these three people, I feel that I’m rounded enough to be able to and have the energy and the courage to be able to go and do the things that I want to do because I can’t do it myself.

0:20:48.5 BD: And what my mentors give me each of them in their own ways is the confidence to go and try things new, the confidence to fail and learn after, the confidence to perhaps not fail because they’ve done it. And then my coach just gives me that whole… The coach for me is my stabilizer and it stays around… He kind of scaffolds me to ensure that I have got my scaffolding around me and I’m not wobbling. And so… And actually recently, Wayne, I found myself a reverse mentor as well. So I’ve got a 20 year old lady who is in third year at uni, who’s actually reverse mentoring me.

0:21:29.8 BD: And that challenges me so much because my thinking is the thinking of a mid-career, a middle-aged woman thinking certain ways. And I’ve got this very young dynamic things, different type of next generation person who doesn’t care who I am, what I’ve done, what I’ve achieved, but they’re micro focusing me on how they and their generation think. And so with my reverse mentor, with my two mentors, with my coach, that’s been really helpful and probably the best time I’ve ever invested, if I’m honest.

0:22:05.8 WB: Yeah. Congratulations. I mean, you’re so forward thinking in this regard that I love this concept. And it’s not very old, right? I mean, reverse mentoring maybe a decade older-best, but it’s so critical in today’s world. The changes happening, the younger generations coming in, it’s such a value sweet spot. So thank you.

[laughter]

0:22:29.2 WB: Thank you for reminding me about that. And for all our listeners, please hear that message. A couple of observations on my part as I was preparing for our conversation, Brandie, is, you’re an extremely positive person. And I say that based on the comments that I’ve seen you write. So it comes through very loudly in your writing. So even if people go and look at your experience on LinkedIn just as an account, they will see comments such as a million things, love doing this job, feel at home, at work, et cetera. Thanks for having me. I’m one of the lucky people to be part of this journey. These are your words that I’ve just poorly extracted.

[laughter]

0:23:15.7 WB: Sorry. But I can see that you have this extremely positive attitude. And the other thing that was obvious to me is that at the core or at the crux of your whole approach, now that’s my observation. I’m wondering whether you agree with that?

0:23:35.2 BD: I think that’s very true, Wayne. No, I absolutely agree with you because for each place I’ve been, it’s a journeys, isn’t it? In this career stuff, it’s a journey. It’s a train and it’s constantly moving. It stops at a station, which is what we would call a bit of luck and a bit of hard work and a bit of being in the right place, right time. And then you hop on there and it’s up to you where you land and all that kind of stuff. And for me, each time I have an opportunity somewhere, it’s about transforming myself with the people that are there. And your right, people make the world go around. Because you gotta understand it from my point of view. I’m a sector agnostic leader. I’m going into industries that I ain’t got a clue what happens there.

0:24:14.3 BD: So it is the people that will make that success and then I’m just helicoptering it almost. And so for me, it’s important that I spotlight that success a lot. And I openly engage with others around how naive I am in that industry, but how much I want to learn. And that kind of, I guess, helps from that perspective. In terms of positivity, I learned a long time ago, I think I actually even read it first and then I put it test way that it’s the same energy we use to be negative, the same energy we use to be negative… No, let me describe this properly.

0:24:49.1 BD: The same percentage of energy that’s required to be negative is the same percentage of energy that’s required to be be positive. And so then I said to myself in my early teens, if that’s the case, what is the point being negative? Because it’s that same energy that you need to be positive. So I might as well put it in positivity, and I’ll tell you what Wayne, it’s probably the best advice I’ve ever given to myself. And trust me, I’ve given myself some really, really, really bad advice. But it was the best advice I’d ever given to myself.

0:25:16.7 BD: So since then and now, if something is about negativity, I just don’t engage in it. I just switch. And so it’s become habit to me now that I kind of repel away from negativity and move to positivity. Of course, it has got its own challenges because no human being can be positive all the time, right? And so you’ve gotta give yourself a bit of sort of downtime and inoculate yourself with a bit more energy to go back into positivity and have that high energy going all the time. But for me, it is the best way forward if the percentages are the same, why not?

0:25:51.9 WB: You have a couple of quotes, and I don’t know if they’re your quotes or you’ve taken them from somebody else, but if I can just read them. If you are always trying to be normal, you’ll never know how amazing you can be. And then, why fit in when you are born to stand out? I really admire those two, those two pieces of wisdom. And I can see that they fit so well to your persona. Are they your quotes, by the way?

0:26:18.2 BD: Yes, yes, yes. And it’s because of just life really, Wayne, because I’ve never really fitted in. For those that can’t see us, ’cause we’re podcasts and I’m pretty tall and I’m not one of these tall people that go… That would walk in a room in a flat shoes. And so I’ll probably go in four inches. So I tower. And I’m quite an extreme individual, everything I’ve gotta do is gotta be a bit… As my mom says, does it have to be a bit extreme? Yes, mommy. It has. So there is that extremeness that I really love, and so I find that blending in, really isn’t an option for me. And so if you can’t… If you don’t want to blend in, then there’s no need to make yourself fit in.

0:26:58.8 BD: So why don’t you use that as an advantage and just stand out a little bit? So it’s easier to be known as… I don’t know that person than the person that nobody could have… We can’t ’cause they tried to fit in and it doesn’t really work. It becomes really awkward when I try to fit in. And so for me, it’s always been actually just go in and stand out. And yeah, and if you are always trying to fit in, there’s such energy zapping, isn’t it?

0:27:25.0 BD: And so these are all kind of observations that I’ve had about myself that has led me to coin in those phrases. Because I do a lot of self-observation as well, and then it kind of allows me to coin that phrase, but yeah, reading it back now, it sounds quite true to me as well, to be fair. I haven’t read it for a while. But yes, it brings it home to me.

0:27:51.4 WB: Listening to you, it is so refreshing, I have to say. It’s almost a paradigm shift from the traditional style of leadership that I’ve been surrounded by in my career. Listening to you and listening to what I foresee will probably be the future of leadership. And I think you are so on point with this whole approach that you’ve taken on board. So I’m really impressed by that. Are you a purpose driven person? Like you have a bigger purpose that you’re working towards in your career as well as in your life?

0:28:28.2 BD: I’m very purpose and passion driven now, as I’ve got older, and I think it’s probably true of most people. In the early years of my career, I was more driven to a direction of my end goal, personal end goal. The past sort of maybe six years of my career, it’s more passion and energy driven. So if a role isn’t going to fulfill my passion, so I’m not interested at all. And the passions for me are twofold really. The first aspect of it is bridging inequalities of all sorts. And it could be age inequality, I think younger people have got so much to give. Older people have got so much to give, let’s bridge them together. It could be gender inequality around, why are we not allowing or accepting the challenges that face female leaders and supporting them bridge it?

0:29:33.7 BD: It could be all sorts of inequalities, and I’m really passionate about it. So wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, there’s a stint of that going on in my thinking from that perspective. And then there’s the other perspective are actually, I’m always looking to launch unicorns, so I just set my bar really high. And failure isn’t an option. I actually get scared failing. And so the higher the bar, the better it is because it just keeps me trying to just keep trying to launch those unicorns. And I think when I marry those together, it then really helps me from a forward thinking perspective and from an impact perspective. Because ultimately, whatever I do, I want… Any organization that I go in, anybody that I interface with, I want sustainability. And to do that, I have to have impact on individuals, on teams, in organizations, on myself.

0:30:32.2 BD: And so I have to marry those two things to make it happen. So absolutely, yes, from a purpose and an impact perspective. But didn’t always, if I’m honest, wasn’t always this way. So perspectives have changed. Who knows where I’ll be, where I’m, I don’t know, 60 or whatever, who knows where, it might have changed in, but for now, that’s where we stood.

0:30:55.2 WB: Hopefully there’s a book somewhere in that future. Do you have any plans for…

0:31:01.5 BD: So it’s quite interesting because I always used to think about books until my son, I’ve got a 15 year old, I’ve got 15 year old twins, but one of them wrote a book when he was nine.

0:31:13.0 WB: Wow.

0:31:13.3 BD: So that actually… Yes, he did. And that actually thought me how hard work it was. So since then, the idea just started gravitated back to again from me. But who knows? Who knows? More time for that just yet. For now it’s about being more impactful and doing what I do really well. And spreading the word and bringing the next generation on. And passing on the baton.

0:31:43.4 WB: Please, at some stage in the future, I’m sure there are so many people out there that would love to read about your journey, your learnings, your insights. So please think about a book.

0:31:56.6 BD: I’ll do, right.

0:31:57.3 WB: Anything we haven’t spoken about today that you really want the listeners to hear?

0:32:04.8 BD: Just a couple of things, Wayne. I think there’s a bit around, we mentioned it briefly, didn’t we? Around how we champion, diversity and encourage diversity and challenge any situations that we witness that we are not quite comfortable with, from an age diversity perspective, a gender diversity perspective, all the aspects of it. And because there is no such thing as a single issue struggle, and we need to approach all of this sort of intersectionally and everybody getting involved and understanding the prejudices, I guess, that overlap at other sectors of people. And that that’s really key. It’s great to see organizations working towards this. And it’s just amazing. And I’m very hopeful for the next generation who are, I think, amazing as we said.

0:33:02.0 BD: And I think there’s a second bit as well, second conversation around actually how do we challenge our own behaviors, and make sure that behaviors that we as leaders are portraying are the best all the time. And if not the best, near to the best. Because it’s important that we look at our own conscious behaviors because we are all role models. And that’s really key, especially for those of us that are thinking of sector agnostic leadership. Because there’s very few around, it’s quite important that we ensure that we’re challenging our behavior so that we can spread that sector of leadership a bit more.

0:33:44.1 WB: That would open itself or lend itself to the need for feedback, I’m guessing, Brandie. How do you encourage, as a leader, as a CEO of a large organization, how do you personally go about seeking feedback on your own performance?

0:34:01.9 BD: I’m quite an open book, and so for myself, it’s really important to keep asking. But more importantly, you might not, when you ask you might not hear the right thing. So it’s about the culture that you build around you. I do share power a lot, ’cause I’m aware of the advantages and the privileges that senior leaders have or others due to their social status within organizations have. And that can lead to an equal per share. It’s important when I go into organizations or even in my own private life, meeting young people or whatever to drop egos. And again, that’s new age leadership, isn’t it? So that there’s power sharing so that people can feel that they can give you the feedback that you need. And that can be quite hard to do because as you well know, Wayne, you sit in boardrooms a long time, and if you’re not… If you don’t give yourself… And I don’t know how celebrities do it, because it’s really hard for them, isn’t it? When you are on the pedestal every time. And then you’ve got to bring yourself down.

0:35:05.6 BD: You just gotta have conversations with yourself to give yourself the space to discuss the need that you just need to almost have a reflection of dialing yourself down and sharing the power around you thought for others also to be able to have a voice. And it’s a skill that I’m still learning. I’ve not mastered it quite well, but still learning and hopefully that helps from a step forward perspective in terms of feed… Feeding back.

0:35:30.3 WB: Yeah, I like that. We’ve spoken about the need to have a mentor, a coach, advisor. You have your own personal experiences, you’ve taken the steps. I’m wondering also about your continuous learning throughout your career. I know that you’ve completed several degrees. How do you fit that in to your busy schedule as a starting point, but how important is that to laying the foundation to your success?

0:36:01.4 BD: I’ve always thought that attention to myself as a leader is my biggest currency. And so if I don’t actually invest in myself and transform myself, I’m doing a real disjustice to myself because I work in… Not justice. Injustice to myself, and injustice to the people that I lead and actually injustice to everyone around me. With that in mind, I actively, and the word is active. I actively seek to transform myself in terms of further learning. It helps, Wayne, that I actually love learning. I am genuinely one of those few people that loved to go to school and loved uni and love exams. And you would find me… My siblings laugh at me because you’ll find me actively learning, even if it’s learning things that are not in my sphere.

0:37:04.6 BD: And so there is an element of that, but we all owe ourselves as leaders or even if we are not leaders and we’re aspiring leaders and we’re listening in today, we all owe ourselves to give ourselves that attention to transform us and to make us better individuals, let alone better leaders, because that is our greatest currency.

0:37:26.8 WB: Yeah.

0:37:28.1 BD: It has been something that I focus on. And every year, I try and think about which aspect of me needs to be tweaked or changed or amended or added to. And I’ve been doing it for good 10 years now, so for the past 10 years, I’ve picked up a little bit of something every year. And it could be self-learning, it could be observation, it could be understudying somebody, it could be reading, whatever that is. I did my EMBA four years ago. Now, that’s pretty late for a seasoned leader, right? But it was important to me, and, again, I picked up the tools, but then that was a decision that I kind of made. It’s those decisions that helps to focus where I want to be.

0:38:16.4 WB: How important is it to cascade your own personal belief in learning through your team, through the organization? Do you have an approach or do you have a structure for that to happen?

0:38:29.0 BD: I think for me it’s around creating the right talent blend. And some individuals are quite comfortable where they are, and so let’s give them the tools to be the best at what you do.

0:38:44.8 WB: Yes.

0:38:45.0 BD: Some want to develop, so actually let’s help them gain a broader perspective. And let’s take a closer look at their personal development plan and support them. And it’s understanding that we are all different, we all bring different things to the table. From that perspective, I’m pretty loose about it. I’m more concerned about understanding individual perspective and supporting them and having that right blend in talent. Although I may be really keen and for my direct reports, it’s really keen, I’m really keen on driving them to get a personal development plan, all that kind of stuff. It’s also important for me to always respect where others are, because not everybody would want to be where you and I are or maybe be better than where we are.

0:39:32.7 WB: It’s a really interesting conversation, Brandie, where can people go if they’d like to connect and learn more about you, if you want them to?

0:39:41.1 BD: Awesome. My go-to place is LinkedIn, and I’m there, so anyone that wants to catch up, to connect, to have conversations, have virtual coffee, that’s where we start. And of course, listening to Wayne’s podcast is always the first step. Thank you for that.

0:40:04.7 WB: You’re too kind. Thank you. We’ve talked about a lot of topics today and we’ve only scratched the surface intentionally, unfortunately, but any final words of wisdom that you would share with the listeners?

0:40:22.1 BD: Thank you for that. Really appreciate it. Well, what I’d say is that this is really simple. Excellence is not a skill, it’s actually a behavior and attitude. To get excellence, it’s more better to focus on your behaviors and attitude. And that’s what I’d like to close on.

0:40:39.0 WB: Wonderful. Brandie Deignan, thank you for taking the time out of your weekend. We’re recording this on the weekend team, so you see there’s no rest for those that are super eager and committed to what they do. So Brandie, I really appreciate the opportunity. I wish you well. And thank you for taking the time today.

0:41:00.4 BD: You’re too kind. Thank you. And come and get me again soon. Thank you.

 

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0:41:05.7 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs at coaching4companies.com.

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