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Ross Shuster, CEO of Howden, a global air and gas handling company, talks to Dr Jacqueline Conway about shifting his company’s focus away from declining industries, and focusing sharply on growth areas. He and his executive team have been disrupting Howden with a vision towards enabling customers’ vital processes which advance a more sustainable world.

The organisational peak is a perilous environment. It’s more complex and challenging than anything that’s gone before, and as a consequence, both executive tenure and corporate longevity are decreasing. To survive and thrive at the perilous peak, executive leaders need to balance their functional leadership or focus on execution with enterprise leadership, that is ensuring the organisation adapts in our new world. That’s what we’ll be exploring in the advanced executive leadership podcast. Welcome, I’m your host Jacqueline Conway. I’m the founder and managing director of Waldencroft, a consulting practice dedicated to helping executives and executive teams anticipate, navigate and lead at the perilous peak.

In this episode, I interview Ross Schuster, CEO of Howden which is a global air and gas handling company. It was a really interesting conversation in which Ross outlined a huge transformation that he’s been presiding over since he became chief executive in 2019. He crucially explains the role that the executive team had in that transformation, which was really about moving the organisation away from serving industries that were in decline towards a much bigger vision that he wanted to mobilise people around. He talks about the way that he redirected the executive team away from things that he felt could be well handled further down the organisation, and towards those things that were really about strategically realigning the organisation. But not everyone on the executive team was able to make that shift, those that did found it very rewarding because they could see the impact that the more strategic leadership was having across the organisation, but he explains that it has been challenging for everyone. I did this interview in person, travelling to Howdens headquarters in Renfrew west of Glasgow, I hope you enjoy.

Ross Shuster (2:22)

I’m Ross Shuster, the CEO of Howden group I came into Howden just over two years ago in late 2019. That was a milestone event for Howden at the time, before that date, Howden was a subsidiary of a US listed company. In late 2019, it was taken out of that company into ownership by KPS Capital Partners, a private equity firm. So, we went from being part of a public company to a private equity owned company, and really started a transformation journey at that point in time.

Jacqueline Conway (02:53)

Where have you been before that?

Ross Shuster (02:55)

Within my career I’ve been with other US listed conglomerates so, I’ve been with the United Technologies Corporation for 12 years. Prior to that I was with Johnson Controls for about 17 years, and a little bit of a stint in consulting, which is a great industry but one that’s not for me with Accenture.

Jacqueline Conway (03:16)

We might circle back to some of these things, but as you find yourself here today, so you’re obviously from the US, now living in Scotland. How has that transition been?

Ross Shuster (03:30)

Yeah, so I mean, obviously, I am American. So, I was born and raised in the United States, and as you put it now based in Scotland. My journey to Howden was not one that was a direct point from the US to Scotland. I’ve been living internationally now since 2002, so coming up on 20 years. I was in Singapore for a while, lived in China in Shanghai for 12 years, and then before moving up to Glasgow, Scotland, I was based in London for a number of years as well.

Jacqueline Conway (04:03)

And what was the specific route to chief executive? What sort of functional line did you come up? What was your specialisation?

Ross Shuster (04:10)

I was just talking to a group of our high potentials within Howden just the other day, about career path versus career journey. I think, traditionally, and I think in years past, people asked the question, what is the career path to a CEO? I like to think of it more as a career journey, because in my opinion, there’s not one or even multiple distinguishable paths to get to the CEO. It’s really about the experiences you pick up through your career that make you ready for that role. And frankly, that’s one of the great things why every CEO is different because they’re a reflection of the different experiences they picked up throughout their career. For me, if you look at what’s in my ingredients as a CEO, I’m an engineer by trade, so my degree is in Mechanical Engineering. You see that kind of reflected in the way I approach problems. I mean, to me, every challenge in the business or opportunity for businesses is a problem to be solved, and every problem has a solution. It’s gathering all the information to come up with what the right approach is. My early part of my career started off in sales, so I was in sales for the first 5,6,7 years of my career. I think that is reflected in the way I approach things really, from what I always like to refer to from an outside in approach, which is kind of taking it from the customer’s perspective, what is the customer need? and then working it back into our strategies. Other things that were in my career is crisis management, which in my first p&l was that I was given an opportunity to take on at that time one of the worst p&l’s and in least the North American part of the business transform that and turn that around. So that’s part of the ingredient of how I kind of approach things that “how do we transform a business?” How do we improve a business but also, you know, kind of an even keel approach to crisis’s and issues we face which came in useful in the pandemic. And then the second ingredient is that international exposure I talked about, and having the opportunity to not only be exposed to international companies, cultures, but actually being immersed in them by living in them for periods of time.

Jacqueline Conway (06:26)

So, what’s happening in Howden just now? Can you paint a picture as a chief executive, what are the challenges either specific to your organisation or within the structure of the industry as a whole? And of course, you’ve already touched on COVID and lockdown, and that’s obviously had an impact on every business in the last 20 months.

Ross Shuster (06:50)

Yeah, so great question, but I’ll probably take two different approaches on it. One is kind of the larger picture approach to what I would call the transformation that we’re undergoing within Howden. And then obviously, it’s hard to escape any conversation in the last year and a half without talking about COVID whether it be personal impact, or business impact, or whatever the conversation may be. But first of all, on the larger picture of Howden. Howden is 167-year-old company, founded in Glasgow, Scotland by James Howden, the original part of the business was in an era of gas handling. Today that really is kind of the core of our business, which is air and gas handling technologies, expertise and services. But the company was founded by James Howden, when he came up with an invention to look at how to use fans to increase the draught over Boilers and steam ships. A very strong invention, in fact, by the 1900s, the amorality had directed at the beginning of World War One that only Howden fans and boiler systems could be put in the ships for the UK. Over the years, we’ve really stayed true to that focus on air and gas handling. The great thing about air and gas handling is it applies to so many things, it’s a physics principle that applies so broadly. Today we find ourselves still involved with marine, but very much involved in mine ventilation, the same principle of moving air services, mine ventilation, we see great growth in that businesses, as the world goes to electrification, and more demand for deep mining of metals like platinum and lithium. We’re very involved in infrastructure so, whether that be tunnels and ventilation of tunnels, or whether it be aeration for wastewater plants, we’re a leader in both, we also see ourselves and we’re very much involved in the energy transition. So today, we’re involved in everything from traditional fossil fuels where we’re producing compression systems for refineries, we’re also involved in nuclear, both traditional and fusion nuclear, in fact, we just secured a project with the Hinkley plant in the UK. The highest growth segment we see right now is our involvement with renewable hydrogen, which has obviously taken off globally. So very diverse business. The expertise and the technologies we have, are just so broadly applied, and they just fit right into so many different industries that are so critical, our biggest decision making is not what we’re going to do, it’s what we’re not going to do, because there are so many opportunities to have industries we can lean into. We’ve decided to lean into as I put it, as I mentioned, hydrogen, which has been a fantastic decision we made about a year and a half ago. We’re leaning into other industries as well to really take advantage of mega growth trends. We’re very much involved now with a new trend with micro nuclear plants, which is a new trend that Bill Gates and others are investing in to build much smaller nuclear plants for cities. We’re involved with three pilots around the world doing that. You look at that, and you wake up and say, Wow, we’re really doing amazing things as an organisation with our technologies and expertise we have. I think coming back to the transformation, under previous ownership, I think the business was a little bit introverted, and maybe even misunderstood by its previous owner. And so, the business had become a bit stale, and also a bit focused on or over consumed with segments that were not growth segments. Even although the applications in terms of technology and experience that we had today apply, so broadly, the business really didn’t see that, and the business was much more focused on some  segments which are in decline, most notably, one that I didn’t mention, because it’s a relatively small part of our business as we stand today, but previously used to be a pretty substantial part of our business, which was coal fired power. You know, the things we do for coal fired power are great. We make those plants more efficient and environmentally compliant, but you can’t argue that whether it’s 10 years or 40 years from now, that won’t be an industry that’s around. That was really part of the transformation we went through it is really just changing the strategy. The business is what we focus and pivoting our technologies or expertise to more growth opportunities and growth segments, which took external strategies, but frankly, also an internal transition as well.

Jacqueline Conway (11:23)

Yeah, I was going to ask about that. Because, of course, you would have people who were working in a particular way, in a particular segment over a long period of time, how was that transition for them?

Ross Shuster (11:36)

I think the biggest challenge we had was not as much the technical capacity to do it, because we were all already dabbling in those things. It was really more of the mental change about who we are as a business, and I remember, early on for my first few days, I focused on something that very candidly, I usually wouldn’t focus on. That seems a little bit too textbook, if you will, which was our vision statement. It just rubbed me wrong, because the vision statement wasn’t really reflecting who we were, I think it was part of, we were living up to that vision statement, unfortunately. But it was really kind of focusing on what we were in industries that were definitely in decline, and not really what we needed to be in the future. And so, there was a pretty active debate as we came up with our new vision statement, which really focuses on two things, if you will. One is the fact that everything we do is vital to our customers business. So, if we don’t manage to ventilate a mine properly, the mine shuts down. If we don’t produce, if our compressors don’t work to produce hydrogen, the entire hydrogen infrastructure shuts down. Same thing with the oil and gas refinery. And so, it’s really hard to find an example of where if what we do doesn’t work and function properly, it wouldn’t have a catastrophic impact on our customer’s so that’s the first part is of vital processes. The other thing, and this is the area that I think had the most debate is that everything we do advances a more sustainable world. I talked about mining and the drive for electrification, electrification is not going to happen without the mining, which can’t happen without our products and services, wastewater is obviously one, a lot of people are still without properly treated water. So, we’re advancing the more sustainable world there, talking about green hydrogen, we talked about in a number of industrial applications, again, where we make those applications more energy efficient, more compliant with energy regulations. And again, as I mentioned, even in coal, obviously not the most attractive of markets from an environmental perspective, but what we do is ensure environmental regulation compliance in there. So that was a whole change of mindset, within the leadership of the organisation, that what we do is really around sustainability. And that’s really become a pure focus of our organisation, and not only our products that we’re developing in the way we’re presenting ourselves, but also our ESG efforts in terms of our own internal footprint.

Jacqueline Conway (14:03)

How easy or challenging was it to make that transition in the business? And what kind of period of time was it before you started to see that vision really come to life?

Ross Shuster (14:16)

I think it was interesting that one of the things that made it easier for me was an observation when I first came in to the organisation from the outside, when you looked at Howden and you looked at the leadership chart or the people you met, it seemed like an older generation of employees and kind of a, as I mentioned, kind of stale. What was interesting when you come into the organisation, there was a lot of people with great tenure and great experience, which is something that’s highly valued, but also it was almost kind of a stratified organisation. There was another population of individuals in the organisation that were young, really saw the potential of what we could do, whether it be environmental things that we were doing that we could lean into more. We had a team with which we’ve now greatly expanded, that was looking at our digital IoT efforts. And the organisation was kind of stratified, that the younger generation, if you will, was looking at the more tenured individuals and saying those individuals have a lot of experience, that’s fantastic. And vice versa, those with tenure, we’re looking at those with all the energy and the passion on new ideas, and saying I don’t really understand it, maybe, but love the passion. But the organisation wasn’t mixed, it was stratified, and I think what’s happened is we came out with this new vision that allowed us to basically break down that stratification and mix the organisation where we really now have a real high energy organisation that really is focused on that vision. And your question about how long it took me, we’re two years into our journey, I think we’ve made significant progress. We measure that through formal engagement, or the employee engagement we have now is at a 75th percentile of our peer companies. The feedback I get from individuals is I’ve never seen so much change in the last two years that they’ve seen more change the last two years, than they saw the 10 years prior to that. So people feel that it’s happening, whether it be our new offerings, the way we’re presenting ourselves, employee engagement, our focus on our own carbon footprint, our focus on our communities, to the community social programmes, and focus on well-being of employees, all those things is mixed in together that says it’s a different company, we’re focusing on different things than we had focused on prior and under previous ownership.

Jacqueline Conway (16:30)

I’m really interested in how you managed to reduce that stratification, because that’s no mean feat. You’ve got an input, you’ve got an output or vice versa, and never the twain shall meet very often. Yet, you’ve managed to bring those groups together so that they’re able to see the benefit of one another. How did you do it?

Ross Shuster (16:50)

Again, I hate to overplay that decision aspect, but the vision, and then we put together strategies that we’re going to take teams working together to be successful, you know, you look at oil and gas, very traditional industries, both frankly, both external as well as internal. But we saw a great opportunity to bring in our digital analytics, which is more leading edge into that industry. That’s an industry where again, if our equipment doesn’t operate properly, optimally, or fails to operate, for whatever reason, an entire plant is shut down. There is no more processing in that plant because our equipment is so critical. So, we saw a great need even though the plant customers are more traditional, we saw a great opportunity to bring in new technologies like digital into that, I guess we’ve been I’d say we kind of hate to use the word forced it, but we said this is it we’re going to look for pilot customers. And we’re going to take our more experienced people in this segment, combined with our very capable individuals around IoT and digital to work together to go find those pilots. And, you know, I think it just takes persistence. I think that’s one of the things as any CEO, both communication as well as, pushing for results, while also listening. And so, I think that was just one example we really persistent on, we need to take our digital offerings and make it mainstream.

Jacqueline Conway (18:17)

You alluded earlier to the second plank the big change, which, of course, is COVID. So, of the two years, you’ve been doing this to this transformation, 22 months of it has been in a situation of lockdown and COVID, and all of the restrictions that have come with that, tell me about the impact that’s had.

Ross Shuster (18:37)

COVID is obviously a terrible and tragic pandemic, so I wouldn’t want to undermine it, or in any ways speak positive about it. But I would say that, behind every dark cloud has a silver lining, if you will. And the COVID situation enabled us to do things that I don’t think we could have done as quickly without a crisis situation. And so, again, not to take COVID lightly because it’s not, but it allowed us to do a few things. One is, as a leadership team, it brought the management team together to make quick and decisive decisions. Remember, this is a group that used to be part of a larger corporation where those decisions and leadership of a crisis like that would probably be directed from the top. And so, the leadership came together to make significant decisions about how we were going to protect our people, how we were going to continue to serve our customers, how we were going to continue to make sure that we were in a financially stable situation, given the uncertainties going forward. I think it was a great test and I think it also helped our senior leadership team gel in that realising that the team could make quick decisions and could act and have an impact on the business.

Jacqueline Conway (20:03)

So, what I’m hearing is an organisation that has chosen to disrupt itself as much as be disrupted. If I can turn your attention now to what that’s meant for how the organisation is led, and specifically, as you know, my interest is in the executive team as a unit of performance. Tell me a little bit about that. Who are they and what motivates them?

Ross Shuster (20:31)

I guess I would go back a little bit to what it was before so I think a couple things happened. One is when we were being taken out of the publicly owned company, and going through a sale process, and getting involved with a lot of strategies, and private equity companies, they all held a mirror to us, if you will, and I say that they were looking at us, but it was also the questions they were asking that made us realise things about ourselves about what we were doing, where the negatives were, where the positives could be. And again, one that came out is your businesses is in a bit of a slow decline because of your overexposure to coal. So that kind of generated how do we change? I think the other thing that came out of this is very specific to how the leadership was functioning, we’re structured into five regions around the world. And that is really a necessity and the right structure, because we’re global, and you need to have people that are local that know those customers, and that’s where the so called ground roots, p&l is measured up from. And so, I would say that the team was operating somewhat independently, openly, I would say, not finding reasons to cooperate, not being dis-collaborative, but not really collaborating, because there wasn’t really a reason for it. And that was one of the changes, I think we had to drive, if we’re doing business with a certain type of customer in China, that customer is likely to be in Europe that customer is likely to be in America how are we leveraging that? Particularly in global industries like mining, even in local industries, like wastewater, which is obviously very local in nature, the technology is global and consistent. And so, how do we drive that collaboration across the organisation? I like to refer to it as interdependencies. When you look at how, we seem to be a little bit of a complex organisation. We have five regions, we’ve got a broad breadth of products and technologies, we have aftermarket services, it seems kind of complex. But the real key to understand that complexity and managing it is where are the interdependencies, where is the person in the US interdependent with the factory in Europe for technology and how do those work together and really leveraging those technologies to or should be leveraging those interdependencies to get the organisation working as one. One of the things we did to drive that is, I took each one of my executive team who had a region and also then put them in charge of a vertical segment. So as an example, the individual that leads in North America has a mining background, so now he also leads mining globally. And it wasn’t unintentional it was to show them what it takes to really be global, and help them understand the interdependencies of the global organisation and every one of your regional leaders is having a global responsibility of some sort. It just broke down walls. The other thing that I think, has changed, and it was one of my observations early on, great people, strong leadership team been in the business a long time, as in nature, generally, very technically, its either engineers, a doctor and chemist very technically focused. And you know in the first meeting we had good discussions, but they weren’t really discussions on topics that I thought at least really were the topics we should be discussing at the senior level. My first observation was we should have, there’s got to be individuals that are working for us or working for people who are working for us two layers down the organisation who should be tackling these challenges. And so, by us tackling those challenges, two things, are we spending our time asking the right questions, focused on the right behaviour, focused on the right things that are really going to make an impact with this business. By spending time on topics that should rightfully be discussed two layers down, are we disempowering those people that are deeper in the organisation. I think that was also probably one of the fundamental changes is getting in alignment, but then really saying that this is not a topic for this group. It’s important for somebody to take on, let someone figure it out, come report to us, and we can guide them on whether we think that’s the right decision. But let’s not take that on here because we have more important things to take on.

Jacqueline Conway (24:44)

That’s so fascinating to talk about the difference between if you imagine this infinity loop,one side does the functional, or that might be a business unit or a vertical or whatever it might be, but the functional the day to day that in and down leadership that’s required. But it has to be balanced by what you’re referring to, as this enterprise leadership that up and out, the there and then. And then how does this organisation adapt and evolve to what’s next, and that’s a fairly typical thing that we see in organisations is that its skewed more towards the functional and less towards the adaptation side of things. How did the people in the executive team make that shift? Because my experience has been that it’s easier for some people than others, and not just about technical because sometimes it’s more than just a technical expertise barrier for some.

Ross Shuster (25:40)

Not everyone did and the easy answer is I’ve got 12 direct reports today, roughly four of them, maybe five of them are new to the organisation over the last two years. So not all of them did. I would say all the ones that are currently in a team definitely have. I think it’s understanding what the impact of their role is, and where their time is best spent. I think intuitively people understand what’s the right place as you make and they’re spending their time. I think, actually, it’s for them, it’s probably more enjoyable, because I think once they see the impact they can make, I think there’s two things that hold them back one thing is comfort, right? It’s either comfort, whether they can move up and do that is a challenge to themselves, if they’d been more technically focused and really kind of focused on the details, are they able to focus on the bigger picture and move things forward? And like I said, a lot of the team has been able to make that transition. Then also the comfort are the people that are working for you able to take on those responsibilities and make those decisions as well. If not, as well as you nearly as well, or even better, sometimes with a little bit of coaching.

Jacqueline Conway (26:55)

of course, the executive team move up to this enterprise focus, that creates a gap, doesn’t it. And that gap can be filled with leaders who were potentially hitting their heads against the glass ceiling, to step up and actually do what they’re fully capable of.

Ross Shuster (27:11)

And we’ve seen that quite a bit, as I mentioned, we’ve had our senior leadership take on additional responsibilities for global vertical markets, like mining or like, hydrogen, renewable. And at the same time, when that’s happened, you see the next level of the organisation also step up and deeper organisations also step up into doing things that are more strategic for them that are going to contribute to the organisation, but also advance their careers.

Jacqueline Conway (27:40)

You yourself mentioned interdependencies. I mean, it’s harder to work in an effective way at the enterprise level if you’re not working with the interdependencies, isn’t it? it becomes absolutely essential to think and work in that way.

Ross Shuster (27:56)

Yeah, I love the topic of interdependencies, my career has been mostly in what people would probably refer to as complex organisations, so multi technology, multi regions, not just producing product, but actually servicing that product. So those are all dimensions of a business that make it more complicated. And so, the real key is, in an organisation that’s not recognising those interdependencies or worst case dysfunctional around those interdependencies, you have managers who, well, this is my responsibility and person B, this my peer, they’re letting me down because they didn’t give this to me. So, it can either become more siloed, and then silos can also think, when my silo is not functioning, it’s not my problem, it’s because someone else caused this. At a leadership organisation, you can’t have those silos, you’ve got to have everyone working independently that says, Okay, what I do, and what I have to deliver, and the information that I’ve got to provide impacts my peer, because they’re counting on me to do this. Whether that be things such as I’m selling into this marketplace, and the technology that I’m selling doesn’t meet the market requirements. It’s not a “blame the engineering” its here’s what I need in engineering, working with them to solve those problems. It’s really understanding those interdependencies of the organisations and culturally, breaking down silos and getting people to work together, as well as putting in KPIs that everyone is looking at, that kind of draws the entire organisation’s attention to what the right behaviours and the right strategies and outcomes are.

Jacqueline Conway (29:29)

One of the things that it brings to mind for me is this sense of when the executive team are working collectively,  at the enterprise level, they’re less interested in what does it mean for operations or finance or this particular geography or whatever their functional or vertical it might be much more about, actually, what does this do for Howden, and there’s a generosity that’s around the table that is released that you don’t see necessary. I like when people are working in a much more kind of siloed functionally focused way.

Ross Shuster (30:04)

Agreed, agreed, and it’s interesting, Howden 167 years founded and headquartered in Scotland, and as your Scottish a very polite culture. There was never arguments of the L1, but it was just I guess the generosity of giving is like the word generosity you gave, which is generosity of contributing back may not have been there. So yeah, it’s a good word you’ve got to break down those silos, and let people understand how they work together.

Jacqueline Conway (30:33)

And it sounds like from what you’re saying, is that actually getting those things right, at the executive level, was hugely important in delivering the vision and the strategy that that you had?

Ross Shuster (30:44)

There’re a couple things that have to happen at the leadership level, first of all, everyone in the organisation looks to the leadership level. This team was never dysfunctional, when I came in, it was functional, and people got along, but people looked to the rest of the organisation, looked to the behaviours of the senior leadership to take cues on how they should work. And that’s one of things we did in the organisation. First, beyond just defining the vision, we also defined the values and behaviours and how we wanted the team to behave both at the executive L1 level as well as deeper in the organisation. The second part was aligning, getting the leadership to align on what were the priorities and initiatives. The next step down, is getting the rest of the organisation to understand what that is, people talk about employee engagement, and I think it’s extremely important, one of the most important things in an organisation for organisational success, but only with the right definition of engagement. I think people sometimes think of engagement as well, people are happy, and I want people to be happy. But that’s not what contributes in its entirety to a successful organisation. Engagement as I define it, and I know others define it as well as do people understand the strategy of your organisation? Do they understand the direction that we want to take? Why we want to take it? Do they understand what they individually or as part of their team need to do to contribute to that? What is their role in the broad strategy? So, it’s one thing to say, this is a broad strategy. But if people say, Oh, that looks great. Doesn’t seem like what I do, and I don’t know how I play a part, then you’ve dropped the ball. And then third, obviously, is the motivation, are people motivated to deliver?

Jacqueline Conway (32:28)

And so what role does your executive play in that engagement piece?

Ross Shuster (32:34)

critical, because again, I think that that level of alignment on what we want to achieve as an organisation starts at the executive level, if the executive team isn’t aligned on what has to be done, what we want to do with the direction we’re taking the organisation, the rest of the organisation clearly won’t be defined as an outcome of that, and it’s communication, right? It’s the roll down, and the great thing about Howden is we’re at our roots an engineering organisation and a project management organisation, so we can, once we have the vision, we can turn it into the details very easily, so that it flows throughout the organisation about what each team is destined to do. But that’s really where the executive team steps in, is that that alignment, the belief and the passion about what we’re trying to achieve as a team, as an organisation, and then from that, how do you flow it down through the organisation?

Jacqueline Conway (33:23)

Fascinating, personally, one sort of last question on that. So, your executive team, given that they are looking after different geographies, I’m assuming they’re not co located.

Ross Shuster (33:34)

I have 12 direct reports, obviously I’ve got a China leader, an Asia pack leader, South African leader, leader in the US all not here. I think about it; my leadership team has not been together in one room since early March of 2020. I’ve always run a global organisation where once a quarter for three to four days, my direct reports from around the globe fly in and we spend three, days physically together going through top strategies, and also building those relationships. So, we’ve had to do that in in new forms and fashions.

Jacqueline Conway (34:15)

And would you go back to that, that in person? Or do you think that that’s less needed to now that we’re all used to doing so much of our work through zoom and teams?

Ross Shuster (34:28)

Yeah, I mean, we will go back to doing those quarterly meetings and we do have to do quarterly meetings now. With time zones, we’ve had to make them shorter days and more days, so we have five, four hour days, five, five hour days instead of three, eight hour days. But I do think we’re missing something by not being in person and I think what you miss, I think the Zoom calls and the remote is extremely good for execution. Right? You can execute and talk about execution and go through the checklist of execution, on remote calls very well. So fortunately, that’s what we’ve been doing a lot of. But I think the strategy and just kind of the other side of the brain about strategy and forward thinking is much better done in an environment where you’re all in the same room.

Jacqueline Conway (35:15)

And also, there’s something about relationships, isn’t there a group together in the same space breaking bread together?

Ross Shuster (35:23)

And we’ve tried to repeat that, I mean, we’ve gone as far as having whiskey tasting sending bottles of Scotch whiskey to our colleagues around the world but because of time zones it doesn’t work too well. When you’ve asked your president of the US to wake up at seven in the morning and have a glass of whiskey it’s either that or asking your china leader to stay up till five in the morning.

Jacqueline Conway (35:46)

Thank you very much indeed.

Ross Shuster (35:52)

Thank you, Jacqueline.

Jacqueline Conway (35:59)

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By Jacqueline Conway…

Dr Jacqueline Conway works with CEOs and executive teams as they fully step into their collective enterprise-wide leadership, helping them transform their impact and effectiveness.

Jacqueline is Waldencroft’s Managing Director. Based in Edinburgh, she works globally with organisations facing disruption in the new world of work.

About Jacqueline Conway