Q&A with Steve Ferguson, Davanti's new Head of Transformation
13th November 2019
Author Justin Hamilton
We’re delighted to welcome Steve to the team as Head of Transformation. It’s fantastic to have someone of Steve’s calibre joining our team and to have another Executive member in our Wellington office. We’re also especially excited about the special combination that Steve and Viv, our GM Wellington and Head of Design and Experience, will bring to our clients.
Davanti started out as a consulting business and we’ll always be a consulting business at heart. With Steve onboard we have an exceptional capability to help our clients move at pace and put their customers at the centre of their thinking.
Just a week and a bit into his new role, we sat down with Steve to find out more about his new role, what brought him to Davanti, what he brings to the Davanti leadership team and what gets him out of bed in the morning.
Steve with Viv Baartman, our GM Wellington and Head of Design and Experience.
Tell us a bit about your role
As Head of Transformation, my role is to develop the part of the business that leverages the core attributes of Davanti in a broader context by helping our customers to undertake fundamental change, starting the conversations with the customer at the point of strategy, helping develop the context and case for change as part of the broader design philosophy.
What brought you to Davanti? What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
I’ve worked with Davanti and Justin over a number of years as a client. I’ve valued the work Davanti has undertaken, and watched the development of the brand and proposition from the client side for many years.
What I always enjoyed in my conversations with Davanti, especially with Justin, was the honesty in how Davanti approached things. I enjoyed how they approached the customer interaction and how they valued the customer.
Ultimately, it’s about values alignment for me, and I like the way the Justin and the team think – it resonates with me. That’s the first thing.
Secondly, Davanti is a cool brand with lots of potential – to some extent in the market it’s known as a Salesforce shop but it’s so much more than that. I see a real opportunity to bring my connections, experience and relationships to Davanti and the role to help build a broader transformation practice and help stretch the brand a bit. That floats my boat.
Tell us about yourself – a bit about your background, mission in life, what gets you out of bed in the morning…
I’ve been privileged to work in high-change environments for the last 20 years in both the private and public sectors, in large corporates and start-ups. I’ve led change, strategy and operational areas at senior levels and loved the cut and thrust that the challenge of change brings.
My passions are around the customer – understanding how organisations can be truly customer-centric – and leadership – I love developing high-performing teams and working together to deliver outcomes.
The thing I love most about what I do is focusing on the customer, looking at how you get the best outcomes, and doing it in an innovative way.
At Kiwibank I led the Retail Transformation programme, designing the Stores of the Future and we tried some really innovative approaches. For example, I had people completely out of their areas of expertise designing new processes and services, such as HR practioners designing aspects of the over-the-counter IT system. The IT guys could do the tech elements but HR would approach it completely differently. I want a human-centred approach, and thinking out of the box, so HR people were at the heart of the design.
Being prepared to take a risk to get an outcome that you might not have thought of is really cool because you go on a journey with your business or your customer, and at first the solution isn’t apparent. You know you want to do something but you’re not sure what it is, and through the process you pivot and you end up with something where you go, Wow. I never thought that would happen.
What gets me out of bed in the morning is working with great people and building great teams. I love crafting and moulding a team and I’m all about empowering people to get outcomes. You get the best if you can lead and give people that empowerment. Give people the opportunity to fail, fail fast, and give them the opportunity to have success.
I’ve seen a variety of transformational change and the challenges and successes I have had in my career have come from having a great team as the platform. We build a great team, they come on the journey and they believe – and I love that.
Tells us about your leadership philosophy and your motto in life…
I believe in being able to challenge. In the context of professionalism, it’s good to be able to have that debate and walk out of the room, shake hands and disagree on something, but that’s okay. I’ve always said to people, let people be heard – and as long as they are empowered to make decisions and exercise their prerogative, people respect that. Many times, people just want to have their say. And around that executive table we’ll have that debate and I’ll lose and that’s okay. We’ve had the discussion, we’ve made a decision, and off we go. I think that’s important.
And as leadership it’s also important to be aligned, to have the debate but then exit the room as one. What I hope to bring to Davanti is transparency, being really clear where the organisation is going and being prepared to share this with the team. I’ve been in organisations where people hold these things tightly and people don’t know what is going on. People get carried away with egos, protocol and hierarchy – and if you strip all that away you can actually get down to something that’s pretty cool.
My motto in life is: Live and let live.
When you’re not busy helping our clients get closer to their customers, how do you spend your time?
I’m an active relaxer – usually busy with my family, my partner and twin 16-year-old girls. I live on the Kapiti Coast, and enjoy motorcycling and motoracing, sport and fitness, and I play the bass. I’m also an avid traveller and love the challenge of adventure travelling – I’ve recently climbed to Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan.
In every part of my life I love change. I’m not a BAU guy. I love adventure in work and play. I’m a risk-taker at heart, but not in a way that’s foolhardy; it’s just managing the risk and then going for it.
Moments of Zen for me are like when I’m on my motorbike, and apexing a corner just right… There’s nothing like taking a corner at high speed, setting up the bike, body off the bike, knee close to the ground, hitting the apex at the right moment and accelerating out. It’s awesome!
I guess that’s how I live my life.
Justin Hamilton is Davanti’s Chief Executive Officer and one of Davanti’s founding Directors. He thrives on complex problems and is focused on getting the right results for customers in a pragmatic, right-sized way. When he’s not busy problem solving, you’ll most likely find him on the water.