What was the path that led you to Trium? How did your partnership with Trium come about?
I joined Trium after a career journey that included a stint as a management consultant at McKinsey & Co., a number of years as a partner at two private equity firms, and most recently, time spent as the CEO of two education companies. From these experiences, I developed a strong philosophy and point of view around leadership and organizational excellence, as well as a deep appreciation for the importance of purpose and mission. In exploring options for my next role, I was looking for an organization with a shared perspective and worldview, a mission to accomplish something truly meaningful in the world, and a distinctive and healthy culture. In Trium, I found all three.
What are you most excited about in your work at Trium?
Trium occupies a unique position in the consulting world. It is one of the few firms that delivers world-class business advice with a deep understanding of the importance of human dynamics to organizational effectiveness – and it does this with tremendous, highly talented people. Trium’s mission is to change the world by changing the way business leaders think. The firm understands that it is only with a fundamental shift in behavior and mindset that leaders today can truly transform organizations into places that are highly adaptive and which serve as a place for real human flourishing. This is what really excites me.
Over the course of your career you have worked across industries, partnered with a number of organizations and seen a lot of what is right and wrong with business. Based on these experiences, is there a problem you see in the business world that you’d like to solve?
Unfortunately, there is more wrong than right with business today. Most organizations today feel more like prisons, where employees mask their true identities and where creativity and autonomy are stifled. At the root of this problem is an early 20th century organizational structure that places power at the top and imposes a rigid set of hierarchical rules and processes upon an increasingly disillusioned and disengaged workforce. If we’re really honest with ourselves, we would admit that this structure can’t possibly serve us well, particularly in a world of increasing complexity and rapid change.
This is the problem in the business world that I’m passionate about solving and that I believe every business leader has an obligation to address. It starts with leaders themselves becoming dramatically less egoic, much more mindful, self-aware and conscious, and deeply committed to serving the people in their organizations and the missions of their businesses. It requires a much longer-term orientation and a commitment to meaningfully elevating purpose as a primary driver of business success. And it means having the courage to trust and empower the frontline of an organization and to dispense with the arrogant assertion that the wisdom of leaders is somehow superior to the collective intelligence of the organization.
There are a number of examples of this shift. Alternate forms of organizing such as Holacracy are gaining momentum. Mindfulness practices are being enthusiastically embraced by progressive leaders and companies. The popularity of alternative governance structures, like B-corps and public benefit corporations, is increasing. Yet, change isn’t happening quickly enough.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
Personally, I’m most proud of raising three wonderful children. Professionally, I had the privilege of leading a company called Delta Career Education. In a little over a year, we were able to transform an organization by refocusing on the importance of people and culture, redefining and recommitting to an inspiring mission, and injecting into the organization a mix of healthy accountability and empowerment. By doing so, we were able to positively affect the lives of thousands of employees and dramatically enhance the value proposition to the students and communities we were serving. In that experience, I allowed myself to trust my instincts about people and summoned the courage to take measured short-term risk and to focus on what was in the best long-term interests of the organization.
Finally, what might surprise people about you?
I was born in London and am the product of a father who grew up in World War II England. While his father fought for the Royal Air Force in Africa during the war, my father moved around the English countryside to avoid being in London during the German air raids. This heritage has had a profound impact on me. Growing up, most boys my age idolized their favorite sports player. While I did too, secretly I wanted to be the next Winston Churchill. Churchill’s courage, foresight and conviction have shaped my beliefs about leadership. In fact, my oldest son’s middle name is Winston and my daughter’s is Thatcher! My youngest got stuck with my middle name, Joseph.
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