Get to know our new Practice Lead Stuart Williamson and find out about his passion for business and people change, and how he plans to inject his decades-long experience at global consulting firms here at S&S as we continue to scale.
What have your first weeks been like?
It was a big step to join a startup, with the whole process of engaging with S&S starting several months ago. The first few weeks have been a nice continuation of open and challenging discussions, and have been really energising. I’ve been getting around meeting lots of people, and have been impressed by the shared listening and learning with everyone. The openness and consistency of thinking around the vision for the business have been really impressive.
Why did you decide to join the S&S team?
I wasn’t actively looking for a new role but when I came across S&S and Pat’s vision, it felt like the S&S DNA was a really good match for what drives me both in work, and life in general. Helping leaders to get the tools they need to survive and thrive, to unlock individuals’ potential to be their best selves… that really resonated with me.
An internal mantra for me from a very early point in my career has been to make a real difference with clients and colleagues, learn and develop, and to have fun. The S&S journey of building on the great success to date, and to scale up an amazing consulting business is extremely attractive from that perspective.
What will you bring to the team?
Time will tell of course, but I think the main contribution will be to bring positive energy and relevant experience in building up a trusted advisory consulting business. I get a buzz out of working alongside people in building accounts, and the number of relationships that go along with that. Hopefully, to make a real difference in co-creating the journey to scale the consulting offerings and a coherent and cohesive approach to grow quickly.
What aspects of your work are you most passionate about?
I love being able to quietly reflect back and see where a huge amount of trust has been built with clients and project teams, and to see that amazing value has been delivered through that work.
It sounds corny but I see every client engagement I’m involved in as an opportunity to learn. And getting the balance right isn’t always easy. I think it’s imperative to take learning through your work seriously, and equally, perilous to take yourself too seriously.
Another thing that drives me is to see and adapt to change, which means the ‘behaviour’ word gets a lot of air time. No discussion with me would be complete without some consulting wheeze of some ilk apparently. So I try to keep grounded with some wise words that have stuck with me since my early consulting days: We tend to judge ourselves by our intentions, and others by their behaviours. A good watch out I think.
On the client side, I suppose my focus is to quickly understand the nature of their change challenges, and to help create clarity around what they will gain from their change initiatives. I’m a big fan of systems thinking – appreciating that everyone has a different reality, and that it’s important to take that into account every time you’re working on a problem. The actual causal relationships can be far from what we initially see.
Why does the world of consulting need S&S?
The demand for high quality, client-centric consulting far outweighs the supply today. S&S are in a unique position to build out on its principles and values to grow substantially into that space. The gap that exists in the specific change consulting space is to help businesses understand and define the nature of their challenges, and to build capability and capacity to deal with them accordingly. There is a huge supply of mediocre and commoditised change management in the market, which of course leads to poor outcomes.
I believe S&S can play a significant part in helping clients overcome both wicked and tame change challenges through active listening, being compassionate, and constructively challenging their approach to delivering value in their businesses. I think by getting close to client Board agendas, working client-side intimately in building trust, and helping clients’ leadership build alignment of their strategy to clear execution of change, we will make a real difference.
What do you like doing during your spare time?
With a two year old at home, spare time sounds a bit alien at the moment. But I love spending time with my wife and my daughter. Music is big in our family and there is either singing or something playing in the background at all times. Our taste in music is pretty eclectic and is a source of lots of fun. We try to mix up the edgy theatre stuff with contemporary ballet, and a ridiculous range of live music.
I like to push myself fitness/activity wise. We had a good record over the last couple of years of trekking in different national parks in the USA. I also managed to get back into triathlon training with a pretty slow one at Hever Castle last Summer. My wife is both a music teacher and yoga teacher, and apparently, I’m still trying to muscle my way through most of my asanas. Darcey’s (my daughter) little kickers football practices are where it all comes together.
Again, a warm welcome on board. We are excited to have you as part of our orange team.