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I met with Mark Brennan several weeks ago at the innovative SAP App Haus. It had been an over a year since I was last onsite. Every time you enter the building you get a fantastic sense of energy and purpose within the environment.

I have known Mark over the years as I helped him recruit the engineering teams for his previous companies. I was very impressed with how he scaled an award winning engineering department and also the calibre of Companies he worked for such as Cambridge Partners, Informatica, Iona and Globoforce. What impressed me most about Mark was his passion for the customer experience and his technical knowledge. Mark has the ability to speak about technology in a simple way that is inspiring to the recipient.

Before I started the interview I put together the camera, lighting and backdrop equipment which took me a little bit of time! Once the equipment was up and running I stuck a piece of A5 paper on a flip chart and blue-tacked topics using post-its. I thought this would be better way for me to conduct the interview and use as a prop to give me guidance during the interview to allow it to flow.

Below are the main points I learned from interviewing Mark Brennan. The biggest take away I took on the day was the power of influencing without authority to a companies success. When your looking to take an idea from concept to market you need to have leaders throughout your team. Those leaders don’t have to be your stereotypical leader with a title and inspirational speeches but rather people who represent the company culture, lead by doing and have the ability to win the heats of minds of the people they work with.

The more people you have within an organisation that can influence without authority the closer you become to having a business that is run by leaders who collaborate to deliver on the Company’s mission statement. Over the years I have built award winning global recruitment teams and they had a few things in common,they lead through example, collaborated and had a sense of purpose.

I asked Mark how he could scale the Company from 40-160 and not drop the quality of the hire. Mark explains that in SAP they hire for a balance of technical experience and the interpersonal skills. Mark pinpoints good interpersonal skills as very important to driving the company achievement of its strategic vision.

What I Learned from Mark Brennan’s interview

  1. Introducing Agile – Start with a pilot team first and find champions to drive this forward and spread the message.If you want to drive through a change agent like agile you need to win the hearts and minds of the people to take them on the journey.
  2. Influence without authority – You don’t need to have a title to influence people and get them to see your views of the world, if you have good people skills,lead through example and seek to understand first and then seek to be understood you an make a huge difference.Some of these champions will have authority to influence but the key takeaway point for me was empowering people who have no official authority to influence without authority.
  3. Culture – Everything matters – Culture is the most important aspect of a companies success without it there is no company.
  4. Support from the top is key – Mark always had a mentor and senior management backing his changes which allowed Mark to make the necessary changes knowing that with the bumps along the way he was being supported. “Mark didn’t create agile, so its not his fault for its limitations” .
  5. Work Life Balance. Make sure you enjoy doing what you are doing, if you dont stop doing it and find another passion. One person could be working 50 hours a week working in a role and immersed in their role vs a person who is working 5 hours a week in the same role, Its how much they enjoy doing what they are doing that is key.
  6. Make the customer the centre of everything you do – Mark is passionate about the customer experience and once you have strategic intent driving why you are doing things, people buy into that journey as you are making a difference. and with the introduction with agile the customer experience improves and the people partaking in the process have a better experience.
  7. Feedback is crucial to personal development – Mark says that when you want to develop yourself you need to put yourself out of your comfort zone. When your trying new things and developing your going to get constructive feedback along the way, don’t get disheartened use this as a metric to show you are growing.

I hope you found the above helpful, I would be interested to see if you agree with the above article?

In my next blog Im going to write about What I Know Now after reviewing my positive journal of 3,000 positive things I have written about since April 2013 and the impact it had on my mindset.

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