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In Brief: What Is Change and Transformation?

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In Brief: What Is Change and Transformation?

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​The term Change & Transformation has gained tremendous popularity in the past decade in businesses of all kinds, to the point that it has now become a business function in its own right. With an increasing number of roles within the space being advertised on the market, one might be interested in knowing more about the discipline and what its core functions entail.

So what exactly is Change and Transformation?

Change and Transformation is the catch-all phrase used to describe the transformation process that goes on in organisations who are both wildly successful or on their knees. As John P. Kotter, Emeritus Professor of Harvard Business School (2007) said: "These efforts have gone under many banners: total quality management, reengineering, rightsizing, restructuring, cultural change, and turnaround. But, in almost every case, the basic goal has been the same: to make fundamental changes in how business is conducted in order to help cope with a new, more challenging market environment".

This transformation process is one where businesses invest huge sums of money into every year, and is a never-ending evolutionary journey that some companies get, while others fail to understand. Change and Transformation isn't just about upgrading an operating platform - which usually falls under Change as an incremental improvement. And Change and Transformation isn't just about creating a new corporate identity and culture, which is very much a transformative process that alters the very essence of a business. It actually covers a whole gamut of areas, from people and HR-related processes through to software and technology-driven events, to new business practices and organisational structures.

Jobs In Change and Transformation

A successful transformational process can be driven by a single hire - or by the decision to scrap legacy processes and infrastructure. Both cases can be eye-wateringly expensive and the amount of funding available doesn't always guarantee success.

Professionals looking for their next role within the space or looking to move into a different development arc must also bear in mind that Change and Transformation is represented in many different ways within businesses. Some will place the guardianship of this critical process in the hands of the Chief People Officer (CPO), or the CEO directly or COO if we are looking at a SME or an organisation that doesn't currently hold a CPO position. Others will instead have a dedicated Change function - again headed by an Executive Committee member.

This means that if you are looking to become a Change and Transformation Consultant, especially within professional services, you must make sure you are aware of which function you are applying to. Are you looking at Change and Transformation within workplace practices, hiring processes and/or wider Diversity & Inclusion processes? Is technology and software more your cup of tea, with large-scale transformation projects such as legacy IT platforms being transferred to the Cloud, the outsourcing or greenfield build of a new information security function and operations centre? Or are you more interested in digital transformation, with a focus on the end user experience and designing future growth options for clients and employers alike? No matter where your interests lie, you should start by clearly identifying them and looking for roles aligned with the specific area - and businesses who will provide the right opportunities - as there are a whole host of Change and Transformation options out there.

With the collective experience we have all shared during the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is certain: the Change and Transformation discipline won't be disappearing any time soon. In many sectors, the functions responsible for Change and Transformation also lead business continuity and resilience planning - something to keep in mind if you are keen to move into a role within the space.


Octavian Donnelly is a Consultant at Rutherford, the executive specialists in compliance, financial crime, legal and change and transformation recruitment.

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