From Challenges to Triumphs: Associate perspectives on S&S collaborations

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At our recent inaugural Change Society Summit, a panel of experienced associates shared their perspectives on what it’s like working with Sullivan & Staley on exciting client projects.

Moderated by Sofia Mutafchieva, Community Engagement Manager at S&S, the candid discussion provided valuable insights into the realities of guiding organisations through complex change initiatives.

Building strong partnerships

As Luke Murphy explained, having alignment on values and an emergent approach sets the stage for effective partnerships. “From that first interaction with S&S, I just knew that something was different. Our values were aligned, but I also loved the emergent approach as well, because it gave me every opportunity to help shape and co-create together,” Luke said.

Creating psychological safety and leaning into vulnerability were recurring themes. “Don’t be scared to reach out or to ask for help or to spark up a conversation about something you don’t know very little about or about something you’re very passionate about,” urged Kerry Gregory, another lead associate at S&S.

Navigating challenges

While rewarding, collaborations aren’t without obstacles. Lizzy Arnold emphasised the difficulties when client timelines shift suddenly. “Often the client will prevaricate a long time and then they’ve decided to sign and they want you to start the next day,” she noted.

Having an integrated team with complementary skills helps weather storms. “On my own, that’s the kind of thing that you struggle with. Having a team, you can share the real nitty gritty of the truth,” said Lizzy.

The power of community

All panellists underscored the value of connecting with fellow associates. “Just having that sounding board, people to vent to and people to share your successes with. I think we’re in it together, we’re alongside each other,” Kerry remarked.

Luke agreed, “First of all, you’ve got that crowdsourcing of knowledge. You can use everyone’s collective experience and expertise to help solve problems.”

The relationships and care for associates as human beings were standout differentiators.

Key Takeaways

Some of the key insights shared:

  • Aligning values and co-creating approaches with clients lays the groundwork for impactful collaboration
  • Openness and vulnerability humanise challenges and foster psychological safety
  • An integrated team with complementary strengths creates a safe space for truth-telling
  • Tapping into the wisdom of the associate community crowdsources knowledge and support
  • Forging ahead into uncharted territory is always easier with trusted partners.

By leaning into authentic human connection, Sullivan & Stanley’s Change Society aims to guide clients to transformational outcomes while looking after the wellbeing of associates each step of the way.

Ricky Wallace
Written by Ricky Wallace
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