Australia’s leading, privately owned, engineering, industrial manufacturing and services company, NEPEAN, recently hosted a highly successful Leadership Forum for its customers. Directed by Professor Boris Groysberg from the Harvard Business School, over 75 NEPEAN customers and guests attended the Forum at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Professor Groysberg is a highly regarded academic and much sought after international business consultant. He has won numerous awards for his research, which focuses on the challenges of managing human capital in organisations. In particular, his work explores how ﬁrms can achieve a sustainable competitive advantage by engaging employees in the implementation of business strategies.
Professor Groysberg is also the author of the award-winning books, Chasing Stars: The Myth of Talent and the Portability of Performance, and Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power their Organisations. He is also a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review and has written numerous articles and case studies on how ﬁrms hire, engage, develop, retain and communicate with their talented employees.
“We were very fortunate to have been able to secure Professor Groysberg for our annual NEPEAN Business Forum for Customers. He is in demand all around the world, and we are delighted he accepted our invitation to deliver a Harvard Business School style lecture that includes audience interaction for our customers,” explained Mr Miles Fuller, CEO and Director of NEPEAN.
The full day seminar focussed on three key business themes: Leadership and Performance, Managing Talent and
Building a Great Company. To address issues pertinent to leadership and performance, Professor Groysberg examined the critical factors which contributed to Jack Welch’s highly successful tenure as CEO at General Electric from 1984 to 2000. NEPEAN’s customers also heard ﬁrst hand from Jack Welch, via archived video footage, on aspects of his various business strategies and leadership style.
Professor Groysberg then discussed how best to manage talented individuals in organisations, the importance of integrating them into the company and the portability of talent in the market place. The seminar concluded with an afternoon session on what drives a ﬁrm’s performance. Professor Groysberg dissected myth from reality as he highlighted the factors most important in building a successful business.
Many of NEPEAN’s customers and guests found the Forum invaluable. “As a rule, it’s rare that I attend events hosted by partners simply because there is so little time. However, when I read NEPEAN’s invitation to the Forum, I must admit that my interest was aroused. I can honestly say that the day has been very worthwhile. Professor Groysberg conﬁrmed some of our strategic thinking and also raised certain points worth considering,” said Mr David Trench, Senior Vice President, The Grifﬁn Coal Mining Company.
Ms Shiree Bennet from Bennetts Steel also found the Forum rewarding. “It was a truly inspiring day and Professor Boris Groysberg certainly knew his material inside and out. The passion that he has, for what he does, allowed us to become absorbed in his teachings. It was very relevant to our business and our future plans with regards to both growing and diversifying.”
According to NEPEAN’s CEO, the concept of a Harvard Business School style Forum for customers, was conceived as a result of his own participation in the School’s highly contested YPO Harvard President’s Program held on campus every January.
Miles was selected to participate in the Program and ﬁnding the knowledge that he gained to be extremely valuable, he believed that many customers would also beneﬁt from such an experience.
“Over the years we have developed mutually rewarding partnerships with our customers. To build on these and to demonstrate the importance we place on these relationships, we wanted to help our customers be more successful and provide something they would ﬁnd invaluable. If our customers are more successful, we will be more successful,” Miles stated.
“My personal experience with Harvard has helped me be a better leader, and provided me with the tools to ensure our organisation is aware of, and implementing best practice. Most of all, it has fuelled my passion for the development of our people. We now run an annual program for our
top management and this year decided to extend the Harvard Business School style program to customers,” explained Miles.
The Forum concept was applauded by both customers and guests. As Onesteel Metalcentre’s, Mr Peter Davidson stated, “…it was an innovative approach to engaging customers and helping them build a better business”. Mr Greg Briggs, General Manager, Machine Engineering and Procurement, Centennial Coal Company Ltd. agreed, “I really enjoyed the day and got a lot out of it”.
The Forum not only proved a great success for participants, it also provided them with an opportunity to network. Following the informative and memorable presentation by Professor Groysberg, guests mingled during the cocktail hour at the Intercontinental Hotel.
“Given the overwhelmingly positive feedback we received, the success of the Forum exceeded our expectations and we will now convene the event annually,” concluded Miles.