Sharpen the saw or your business could wind up being blunt and ineffective

“The day you feel like an expert is the most dangerous day in your career.”

May 23, 2019

By Abigail Mayhew

Jonathan Walbancke, marketing transformation director at Unilever, was one of the business leaders sharing his insights at HeyHuman’s recent Transformative Growth breakfast briefing. The event gave the stage to leaders who have navigated the business challenges facing their industries, including Centaur Media’s CEO Andria Vidler, and Debora Koyama, who is chief marketing officer at Mondelez.

During the event, which was chaired by business journalist and former Financial Times columnist Stefan Stern, Jonathan extolled the value of being candid about your ignorance.  He drew upon his recent experience of becoming the UK and Ireland marketing transformation director at Unilever, and discussed how he has gone about trying to understand and introduce change within an 89 year old holding company that has such a vast network of household brands.

“First of all, you need to make sure you’re visiting the front line – spending time with the practitioners and not the consultants. Then, you need to ask them all the stupid questions and be up front with your ignorance” he said. “But at the same time you need to shield others from the complexity of it all.”

Jonathan cites this ‘Learn-it-All’ approach as key to understanding what needs to be done to change a business. He also thinks larger companies often lose out to challenger brands, because they aren’t doing enough to put the consumer first.

Read the full article in the Business Leader here.