Thursday the 10th of March – episode 6

This week I’m talking with Sean Heylen from Adelaide, South Australia. I’ve known Sean for 4,500 days, which we celebrated together!

Sean specialises in the human side of project management as part of digital transformation programs for medium to large corporations.

We discuss in depth the importance of digital transformation and how this impact entrepreneurial businesses as well as corporate enterprises.

As according to Sean we’re very much at the beginning of digital transformation as a journey for everyone, Sean identified early on that companies need to move their business models.

Sean Heylen: “Web design and web development back then was only a tiny little sliver of this size circle, media continuum of what digital transformation and modern computing and related information and communications technology actually is.

[Companies] are now deliberately moving their business models and and dragging sometimes their customers on that journey. But But yeah, digital transformation as a discipline and as an understandable practice for professionals and organisations to to deliver for their customers and themselves is in its infancy.”

We also discussed in depth the changing needs and requirements around compliance, and how digital transformation is driving a lot of compliance related conversations.

Sean: ” I would respectfully point out that most modern organisations are only at the beginning of their compliance journey. And indeed, certainly for me as an experienced entrepreneur, having been involved in not only my own business from startup through to maturity and exit, but also several others, I can assure you that most business owners – even experienced business owners- who are great people and are genuinely trying their best, probably lead compliance, close to the bottom of the list of priorities.

Because it is an administrative and in some ways bureaucratic task that often isn’t seen to deliver value to the business or its customers. Of course, that’s not the case at all. Compliance certainly in medium sized and large organisations is a critical component of delivering value to the customers because as we know,  it substantially reduces and manages risks. And if we’re not reducing and managing risks in our business, or at least recognising those risks, and considering them in our decision making, then there’s probably only one way for businesses to go in the end. And that is for those risks to be realised. And you’ll see many examples of risks being realised and what it can do for businesses. And how quickly and seemingly from nowhere, and sometimes fatal.”

While most people agree on the value and importance of compliance, the approach is very different between the various size businesses. As sean has experience both as a business own, as well as in corporate enterprises, we discussed the changing focus in relation to compliance.

Sean: “So as a startup entrepreneur, and fast growth business owner, all those years ago, I considered myself to be a professional risk taker. And indeed, I think the old French and Latin translation for the word entrepreneur is risk taker, or some form of risk, someone that’s willing to take risk on behalf of others, and in order to grow capital.

But now, I would say that I’m a professional risk recogniser and manager . So that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna take risks.

Because that’s what great project management is. So great project management usually is actually managing up a sum of cash and amount of money to create an outcome whilst and  whilst navigating through risks. So in order to navigate through those risks, we must first recognise and understand what they are. And then consider mitigation strategies.

What we will do if the risk is realised how we will continue towards the delivery of the project, whatever that outcome might be, whatever that delivery looks like, on behalf of the project sponsor, the person with the money, which as small time entrepreneurs, that’s us ourselves as business owners. But when working for other businesses, it’s not us, it might be the shareholders of a publicly listed business, or it might be the C suite of a privately owned company. So or it might just be my boss, the guy whose budget it is that we’re using in order to do this digital transformation project. So the management of risk and compliance to professional standards, and various other compliance frameworks and authorities, is really a way in which we can better understand our risks, and, you know, other people’s experience to understand those risks. “

You can listen to the audio of this chat here: