What does a typical day in the life of a Global Director Organizational and Cultural Transformation look like?
Well, as the title implies, there is no typical day when you work in Organizational and Cultural Transformation! Working in this space is incredibly interesting and challenging as a result because you are at the cutting edge of defining what the working world will look like. Our resilience to be able to shift almost seamlessly into hybrid or remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic is an excellent example of this, as just a decade ago such a rapid response, ensuring global connectivity of all employees would have been unfathomable. So, each day I have the genuine privilege and challenge to wrestle with these issues, and try to answer the most fundamental question: How do we best develop and equip our employees to have ongoing, sustainable, and meaningful careers in this fast-changing environment? In a typical day, trying to answer this question can take me on a range of different work adventures: it can mean holding a workshop with the Executive Leadership Team or the Senior Leadership Group of Arcadis exploring how we can actively create and maintain a work environment that enables our people to prosper to attending client meetings to share ideas and discuss some of the big issues that impact our sector. However, my day often involves working with my team on developing strategies that enable our people and the business to navigate an uncertain future and get comfortable with ambiguity. This is all in addition to spending time on our flagship program – Expedition DNA – to ensure that it remains world-leading in terms of content and facilitator quality.
What drew you to Expedition DNA?
There is no other program like Expedition DNA! It’s rewarding to have the opportunity to shape the content with a belief that we are really enabling our people to drive digital transformation and shape the future of our sector, and of Arcadis. Being able to build an online program like Base Camp, to develop interesting and engaging content that all Arcadians have the opportunity to engage with, is professionally very rewarding. In addition to Base Camp, developing a high-engagement approach to behavioral transformation through our Expeditions, and seeing the transformational journey many of our participants experience throughout the program truly is a career highlight for me. I also get to work with world-class subject matter experts both from within Arcadis and beyond, to develop content that is future-focused and incredibly high quality.
How do you apply your expertise from your Arcadis role into your involvement in leading Expedition DNA (or vice versa)?
I am fortunate to have a unique and very a-typical career background that has spanned over 25 years, working and living in 5 different countries in regional and global roles which has encompassed employment law, politics, human resources and digital innovation. There are two factors that I have tried to embody throughout my personal career journey:
1) Every experience is an opportunity for learning
2) Applying the skills you learn in your role is what creates a passionate career.
The core of my experience has always been working with people, understanding their concerns, fears, ambitions and hopes, and enabling them to thrive through developing innovative approaches to learn, develop new ways of working and apply new skills. Throughout Expedition DNA we do this through engaging our communities of participants and other stakeholders, really putting ourselves in their shoes with respect to how we create an engaging program, and researching what the future possibilities may be so we can align our participants around strategies that will help us all realize that together.
What are some of the challenges you have faced in leading the program, and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge we have faced recently has been adapting the program during the COVID-19 pandemic. Expedition DNA is so important to the future of the Arcadis business, and in ensuring we continue to have meaningful and engaging roles for Arcadians was priority. In order to adapt quickly, we deployed the same design thinking techniques that we teach in the Expedition program – empathizing with our participants and stakeholders – to build a fully virtual program that has high quality content and is just as engaging as the face-to-face aspect of the program. We are really excited by the reimagined Expedition program, and now having run two fully virtual Expeditions we know that we have managed to achieve what we set out to do! The feedback from our facilitators, stakeholders and, most importantly, our participants has been overwhelmingly positive. It says a lot about the program when we can proudly say that participants in Expedition DNA have higher retention rates than other employees in the business because our participants know that we are investing directly in their future career development, and they are equally committed to enabling the company to transform as a result.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Being a working mum, my typical day is pretty long and varied! When we are running the Expedition DNA program, my day starts as early as 4:00 am (with a lot of coffee) because we attempt to the deliver the virtual program at times that align with the participants’ time zones. I am so fortunate to have an amazing Expedition DNA Team in Euan Macleod, Jill Shipley and Monique Bicker who support all the coordination and logistics, as well as our team of global facilitators. It really is a massive team effort to deliver every Expedition in a coordinated and professional way – especially if I am balancing Expedition delivery with making school lunches! My kids, on occasion, have made cameo appearances at Expedition DNA (as well as ELT workshops, leadership meetings and even conferences!). The remainder of my day often consists of calls, attending conferences, researching and writing papers or designing workshops for clients. Whilst it has been something I have always consciously done, the pandemic has brought the need to find regular breaks and take a walk into sharp focus. I live in Leiden in the Netherlands, and I enjoy going for a walk around the canals when I have the time and shutting off the intensive thinking – this is what helps me be at my most creative and innovative. After school hours I again need to do the balancing act of work, supervising homework or piano practice, making dinner and everything that goes with being a busy working parent. Once the day is all over, I do tend to watch some Netflix to relax. I am also a big fan of sleep and aim to get a regular 7 – 8 hours every night!
What are your ambitions for Expedition DNA? Are there any upcoming projects/ announcements we can look out for?
Our ambition for Expedition DNA is fairly simple: we want to ensure that it continues to be the world-class, award-winning, uniquely engaging transformation program that it has developed a reputation for. We want to engage as many Arcadians as possible in Base Camp and the Expeditions, as this is an important investment in everyone’s future careers and professional development. We want to enable the Arcadis business to realize its strategic ambitions, to be the sustainable enterprise it aims to be in providing solutions that Improve Quality of Life. Soon, we will also be opening up applications for Expedition DNA #9, so it is a fantastic opportunity now for every Arcadian to complete Base Camp and make your application to join us later in the year. We hope that every Arcadian can join the Expedition DNA movement, and help drive Arcadis forward into the future!