The Ed Eppley Experience
The Ed Eppley Experience

Episode 8 · 2 years ago

Best CEO Developer of Talent Ever


Ed spends time with Alan Crookes the CEO who taught Ed what it means to invest in people. As the CEO of BMW Financial Services for the Austral-Asia region, Alan oversaw the greatest and fastest growth in revenue, profit and market share for this global auto brand. This would have never been possible without a bench of managerial and leadership talent that he could confidently place. Listen and learn from the best!

Welcome to the ED epley experience. Twenty minutes that simplifies the complex job of managing and leading people and inspires you to take action on what you probably already know to build and sustain a smart and healthy business. Here's your host Ed Effley to introduce this week's guest and business leader. Welcome to the AED epilei experience. This podcast is designed to simplify the complex job of managing and leading people and our goal on this podcast, as everyone, is to share with you at least one proven bisin practice that will help you build a more sustainable and profitable and purpose driven company. I just got done telling our guests that this is fulfilling a bucket list for yours truly today because, as result of him joining me, I get to talk to somebody who's been very instrumental in my development my growth, as well as been a wonderful friend and a great client well. So welcome, Mr Allen Crooks, formerly of BMW financial services but still living down under near Melbourne, Australia. So Alan, welcome. Thanks at and Grit to join you and, as you mentioned, we have a long history together and a lot of successes out of the period of time, so it's good to talk to you. Well, thank you. I laugh and people will. I'm going to try to give them some context about our a relationship. The first time I met Alan was in South Africa, at least to my recollection, Alan, it was at that game preserved north of Johannesburg and we had about twenty, five or thirty managers who we were. You were kind enough to and trust me to teach them some professional management and, as I recall, Alan set in the back of the room audience. He set back there and, as is his style, he didn't say very much, if anything, for the first day and until we got you know, he kicked it off, but other than that he really didn't say anything. Til the end of the day he wanted to know who stood out in terms of their talent to me and ask me for my my feedback on people, and then he kind of repeated that day too, and day three, and finally we started talking. But this guy doesn't say much, so for me to give him a chance to have the microphone is truly gonna be fun to see if he see if you answered more than one were d answers, Alan. So do you remember that event? South Africa. Certainly do, because that was one of the first events we had in the raging in Ladyship or development, and we happened to be in set Africa already as a CEO team. And the same time you're running that training for these I think it was called Nli, that's right. Yeah, new leader intitude, that's right. And so we had manages that were relatively new in their role and we wanted to run these training and development I was the first one and I was certainly there because I was interested in them as people but more importantly, looking for potential. And probably where that originated from is that I had a leader when I first started, before beamw who took me through a Dale Kaneggie course. Was a forday week course. At the end of the course you had this ceremony where you got presented and was the night after after hours. I think ran from seven to nine of a night's I did at part time four ten weeks. But this CEO actually turned up for that closing event and that impressed me because he had his own family, had seven children, would you believe, but he took the time to turn up and show interest in how I developed out of it. So that probably stuck in my mind. So that probably where I learned the the process of being involved, showing interest, but was more particularly I was looking for the for the talent, and these were young managers. I knew the region was going to grow. So ...

...where were we going to get talent? And the the main area we're going to get them from was within. But we had to train and develop and that's what you did and and was very successful. If I look back of who the participants in that original nl, I think there's probably eight to ten of them have gone on at to become other CEO's in their own right, within beam view or outside beam of you, or leading big teams. Yeah, it had an impact in that respect. So was more about interested in who they were, where they came from and the fact that that these were potentials. It just occurred to me you've always obsessed about, you know, talent and finding talent and developing talent. You've been fixated on that since I first met you, and I didn't I appreciate you telling me that story about the boss that you had that came to your deal Carnegie graduation ceremony, and you're right the showing genuine interest in your people by attending something like that really sends a signal, because most of these folks recognize how precious is your time and for you to invest that in them when you didn't have to as really special. I think. Just get me back. The significant thing about that it was that he had his own family, seven children. So yeah, why would you take the time to go and after hours, after work and come to this event? But that stood out as an impressive exercise from his behalf. So that stood with me in many respects about investing in the people genuine, genuine care. How many people do you think we put through an Ali in the Australasia region from two thousand and five until two thousand and fifteen? Would say they'd be at least a couple of hundred over that period of time and, as I say, many of them have gone to guide a success and I know personally that this one of a couple of people that tended had a big impact. One guy in particular said to me that this really showed him what leadership was about and he's a CEO now. He had a significant impact. He remembers it because also from your perspective, one of the things that stood out for him was it was a challenging event. Now, other words, you challenge them, they challenge back. The group interacted very well and that impressed him, that that ability to learn to challenge, but also the cohesiness of the group, that the multicultural group. We had participants from each of the markets. So at that time we had six countries. So we had people from Japan, we had people from Korea, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and a number of those are gone on to be very successful in their own right. So was important to hold that but give them that foundation training. Of admit some vulnerability here to the audience. The first session we did was an Bangkok the year before and our friend Marcus Health, which was the gentleman who sponsored that. Yes, yes, I don't know if I ever told you the story, but Marcus was sitting to the side auditing and watching what was going on and we had the classroom set up in a square rectangle and we had people there from, I believe, and we'll just say it, we had obviously Thailand, we had Malaysia, we had Korea, we had Japan, we had the gals from South Africa, sure, Lene and Ursla probably, and so there were roughly two thousand and twenty five people in the room and Marcus, at the end of the day I said what did you think? Think and he said, well, it was a little concerned as beginning because everybody was setting by country and I never even thought about asking people to mix up or move around and I didn't really think about the cultural differences between the countries. I just started running the NLI as I would normally run it exactly and I never thought about presenting what we presented in any way differently because of the cultural diversity that we had represented in the room and nobody from North America. So that leads me to the question about that was ignorance on my part. But I'm wondering, as you've been so involved with so many different cultures in your career, as many as anybody that I know, do you do anything different as a leader because of...

...cultural differences? No, when, as I know, there are definitely cultural differences in in each of the Asian countries and you should be aware of those. But in terms of the ladyship and the management of those companies, particularly the Ladyship, he's not different. But but I'll go back we're did that learning came from? Because that came from the fact that the straying business, we from Daiwan, had a multicultural organization. Right. That happened. That's a Stria. We had a multicultural organization, we had diversity and culture, we had diversity in mile and female so that's why we grew up with so it was a bit of a natural thing that happened. But coming back to your question on leadership and leading in those markets now it's very similar. You want to later that leads the people and genuine care of the pay people. I wrote down a couple of words that I think of when I think of you, Allen, and one was a gentleman. I'm going to come back to that. If I forget at the end of our time together, I would ask you to say, Hey, what did you want to say about gentleman's I want to talk about that. Visionary. You are definitely a visionary. You see things that either are visible that others don't see, or you see something that's not even visible to potentially to others, but you can see the future of what it could be in created an urgency to go towards them. Do you think that's an eight or do you think you develop that capacity to see the future of what things could or should be? I think it's a learned skill over time. I read a lot, I studied a lot in terms of studying different organization and different successes. As as you know, I study very closely Australian rules football, which is different than what you're familiar with in the US. But that taught me about teams, that taught me about coaching, that taught me about vision and what was possible. But, as I say, I was lucky in many respects in beamw that I had some great experiences. I belonged to a group which was process for Engineering Group, which meant that we met as a group. There was I think there was eight of us in the group from different countries that we met every two months for two weeks and we were in a different market. So that opened my eyes as to what was working what wasn't working. But also then I had the opportunity to do some great courses through BMW which opened my mind to what's possible, what was potentially available. We ended up, as part of that process for Engineering Group, visiting Michael Hammer, who was a gurup process for engineering at it might. I then attend to some great courses and one of the greatest courses I tended was in Boston and was run by Hammer, but he had a guest list including Jack Welsh, and the leadership course was leading into turbulent times. So I was going there really to listen to Welsh because I read a lot about Welsh's right gut and he was well recognized at the time as one of the best leaders. But disappointingly he didn't impress me when he presented. And the most standout part of that exercise was he was interviewed by Michael Hammer. But the standout guy in that event was a guy called Don Soda Quis. Don Soda Cuss was the CFO for Walmart and I didn't know a lot about Walmart, but Don Soda Quist had no notes, no power point, he just walked the stage and you told stories about Walmart. Yeah, that led me to then I picked up the book on Walmart. I still got it and I still got it mark all these pages and it's called the Walmart decade. How a new generation of leaders turned Sam Walton's legacy into the world's number one company. So that inspirbing. In another way, he's a huge organization that look at what one leader did to develop a culture and inspire the people, so that rainforce some of my learnings. He...

...was a visionary as well. Oh yeah, yeah, so to come back to you question, I think I learned it over time to have a vision, and the vision was important in a number of markets to inspire the people. Where we going. Give them, give the road map. Thank you Allen. You're listening to the ED epply experience. Email at now with your questions for today's guest to podcast at the Epply Groupcom. In his book, let's be clear, six disciplines of focused management pros, author Ed Epple breaks down key practices of professional management, how to implement them and why it matters. Purchase your copy on Amazoncom today. Develop your competitive edge for the future while building a sustainable and thriving business. Another one of your traits is loyalty. I have never been around anybody who's been more loyal to people once they're on your team. You were just so completely loyal to that person in the belief that they are going to be successful and you're going to do whatever you have to to help them be successful and, you know, be even had a conversation. If you were to have a flaw or a fault, it's probably sometimes being loyal to some people that you probably shouldn't have been longer than you should have. I guess there's a way to say. Is that learn or is that is that part of your DNA? No, I think I think that was learned as well from experience. I had very good bosses in the past. I use a term, or leaders that got me a lot of loyalty. When I first joined BMW there was a great C that showed a lot of law to to his peepy. was tough. He was very tough, but he showed a lot of loyalty. He gave you a lot of experiences. I stuffed up a few times, but he was still very loyal. So in that respect I learned from him. But equally, I think your point is right on the other side, I probably didn't move quick enough when I gave people the chance, but then I needed to move quicker looking back, to make changes when they weren't performing or where the job was too big or the job I grew them right. It wasn't initially. It just out room later. Yeah, yeah, which I think you know this term well. That paid his principle. You promote them beyond their capability. Yeah, you should give them the chance to perform, but if it becomes too big, then make the move to get them out. And that's probably, in hindsight, where I didn't move quick enough on some ACC patients. I'm being cautious with our time, but I've got so many questions I want to ask and one that strikes me is thinking about China and you're opening up that market and the complexity of it and the joint ventures and all that kind of stuff. How that was a really, really once in a lifetime kind of opportunity to do that in a market of that size. What stands out to you about that whole journey of China and opening up that market? Well, I think, as you said, that the complexity of it, it was navigating through the rules and regulations. It took US five years to get a license, but it was a real test of I use the word patients and persistence. Yeah, Paitian, to say stay in the journey to get this license, persistence to want to get it once again. I was lucky that that I put in a great leader from the start who you know very well. Yep, extremely talented XIV league, but he had to go through some really tough times and those were, we extraordinary tough times and I didn't see them in any other market. But he learned, he grew and I had to coach in a different way. They're him is a leader, but he innovated in a way that no one else would have. Yeah, I...

...agree with you, and we start the business. Wouldn't you believe that we suddenly had these they called quotas put on us. In other words, the market was growing too big. So this was the regular later trying to slow the growth. So we were one of the last into the market. So we five years to get a licensed. Then suddenly you're ready to go and you were stricted in year lending. Yeah, yeah, well, I remembered staffed up for two or three times the volume of growth that he was allowed to go after. It was like what do we do with all these people are dressed up and no place to go? Yeah, but he innovated because we then developed at what he called a coleending model to to shift some of the business into another lender, which was innovation really innovation. So you had to innovate, you had to but equally, what what he did was inspire the people. Yeah, we add some new concepts, lunch and learn, which was educating the people in environment once a week to get them to understand the business. I mean that market now is the biggest market for financial services in the world. So I grew from and I think this. Yeah, this year will be ten years since we established China. But I love that experience. But I had great, great joy in seeing that success. But equally Russia and India. Yeah, or I had the rick market, so I didn't have Brazil, but it was different form of challenge, but exciting to see those markers succeed. Yeah, and, as you once in a lifetime and will never happened to happen. Three was not the brick, but the rick. Russia, Indian China was amazing experience. I I didn't realize at the time. I just knew it was daunting and you know, I had no responsibility for anything other than helping you develop a people, but I knew it was daunting. What was being asked of all those people in terms of figuring out, you know, developing processes and systems that could work in those markets because they are so unique and so different in and each one very, very complex. One of the things that the audience may or may not know is I'm a big fan of behavior finance and behavioral economics and as a result of that I got exposed to an assessment called Perth leadership and Dr Ted Prince is the author of that assessment, a suite of assessments that helps you identify behaviors that you possessed and cognitive biases or filters that you have in your mind that really affect what you do and how you see risk an opportunity and then understand how that affects the financial results of the business. And Alan you very early on in Braith that so when I talked to you about it, do is not if we should do it is just how passed and what you know, what would be the goal, and so we started doing that and I'm curious today what you've took away from that whole experience. You're a bit of a Unicorn and how your hardwired versus how you behave, and so I'm just interested about where you are today and you're thinking about behavior finance. I think was a fantastic concept and and we we had some challenging discussions about doing that because obviously it required investment. Yeah, I remember the discussion. We had a CEO get together and was in Bangkok and I put to the group should we do this? It's going to take an investment of a number of dollars and it was a heated discussion, but in the end we agreed to do it and that was pleasing because was investment into the potential, again, identifying the potential of the people, but also identifying what was possible. And we had some great experiences and and if you remember, we had some young talent that we are if I that we would not have identified otherwise. Yeah, and we had some great outcomes from doing that. So that was the...

...highlight for me to see this concept, read about it in theory, put it into practice and then see the aircome and the this staggering outcome was some of the successes we had in our biggest market we've just China. Yeah, and at the innovation in another way. Yeah, and for other for our audience, there's a disproportionate few people who have the capacity to think and behave in a way that produces high gross margin ideas or products or services. And so what we embarked on with Alan and his CEOS was testing a very large group of people, several hundred, as I recall, for it, for their capacity to innovate, and then also giving them permission to innovate in an organization. All large organizations tend to weed out highly innovative people because they they're hard to manage and and they generally will take a path of least resistance. If I'm a highly innovative individual, I'm probably not going to put up with all the rules and regulations and so I'm going to go find somewhere else where I can act on my ideas. So it was really interesting how Dr Prince worked with you to figure out a way to give them permission to do this innovation without it raising too many red flags, too early exactly. But the hall light to me, as I I was then identifying this talent that we wouldn't have otherwise identified and giving given name the freedom to try things and and some of those things definitely worked, which we wouldn't have by the laws, had the opportunity to say, let's move off of that. And since we've kind of hit that pretty hard. I'm curious about you've had the opportunity, in fact, I think since your retirement from from BMW, you send a huge amount of time coaching, even more than you already did. Is there one thing that you think is just proportionally important for somebody who's an executive or manager earlier, if they're if you were going to say, I don't care what you do, but if you don't do anything else, you better do this or maybe, in the negative, you better not do this it, is there one thing that you feel like is really for executives to be successful in today's world? I think it's all about the paper edits. As you'd expect, get your team right, and when I say team right, ideally get a diverse team, diverse team of experienced, diverse team of talent and definitely have a very strong balance of females in that. Allow them to do their job, get out of their way, but but also challenge them, challenge them to to improve and and don't be don't be afraid to challenge and if if they are under performing or they can do better, so but equally, as we discussed, if you're not working out, move them. So take that decision quick and because we all procrastinate about that. What we discuss, but but definitely what we do. We do, we all. We never you never generally hear executive say I move too quickly on that individual. Always it's always too long. But it's get the same right, get the diversity in the team, but but coach them. Act as a coach rather than you have all the answers. Talk to me about when you consciously started to work on the diversity, especially in terms of male and female, on your team's was that always there, or was there a moment in time where the switch flip for you and you said I'm going to really work with and trying to identify the female talent that we well, I mentioned that that we were. We were fortunate that we had a diversity in culture. We had a diversity in females in Australia. So came in somebody's natural we had some great managers that were leading some big teams, female managers, and and the standout learning from the female managers. They executed much better than the miles.

One more time to see that again. They executed, but they also multi task because a lot of these were ladies with children, with family, so they had to balance, but but that that came through as a standout. So when I took over the region, I was lucky that had the opportunity to put in a CEO in into Russia as a female. I we had a change in South Africa and then we put in a female in South Africa. I then had to exceptionally talented AAs they told me also that they cover some of my blind spots, but they also did some things that were impressive. So they were female, young, talented ladies that are now, I've gone on to be very successful HR managers in their own right, with families, with children, and so that that's where it came from. Give them the opportunity, let them get more involved. But we needed we needed that diversity. That's that was the critical point, I think. Did you run into much pushback from headquarters about your choices and using women and some of these critical positions? Not Really, because the lady that was head of HR, you mentioned Marcus earlier, he's boss, was very successful lady in Beamw, very successful. She was one of the first female senior executives in BEAMW. So she was head of HR for financial services. So she fully supported. Naturally, development of the female talent and she supported me personally in many ways in making sure that happened. But no, not, not particularly. was was a bad identifying the right person the right time, but it was female. Definitely got very strong support from from her, but also from the CEO at the time, George Beau, and then then Tripoli. Tripoli, yeah, they both very strong supporters of female development. I think that's great. Well, certainly was a lesson for me. And, as you said, the capacity to execute. We can never have too much of that, and so if we can find an individual who can more likely be able to get things executed, we certainly want to warn our team. And if you go back to that original training in South Africa, one of those ladies out of that ended up but in CEO in one of the markets, and and and, the lady that's now the running the region, the Aust to Ronnie, is a female who used to work for us time out of ASTRAA. So yeah, yeah, even the opportunity and say and let them go and they'll prove you that they'll deliver. Alan, I need to wrap up because of our time constraint. I don't think this will be our only time having this conversation, though I think we're going to have you back for some more more targeted discussion. I wanted to pay you the the honor, though, of giving you a chance to share some of your thoughts, because you've had such a big impact on me. I want to I want to come back to my word, gentleman, a gentleman the ladies and gentlemen, I heard this definition. I forget it was an English writer who it was, but he said a gentleman is someone who has few vices but will let you have yours. If I've ever met somebody who is a gentleman of that type, it's Mr Allen Crook. So Allan, thank you for being with us today. I want to remind our audience that if you want to find out more about professional management and leadership, just go to my website, the eply group. That's Epplley, the eply group. All One wordcom my book, let's be clears. There, along with our assessment that you can take to find out which areas, professional management organizational health, may be more of an opportunity for you than the other and we we will welcome you back to our next podcast, which will be on next week. So with that, Alan, any... comments, we can wrap up and get you back to your gardening or whatever I it at. It's Thursday, so you're not guardening today. That was yesterday. No, no, I actually at making some people that do some coaching sessions. But thanks for having me on and and thanks also for what you did over the years to help us succeed in many of these markets. You're training, your Ladyship, your coaching of many of the successful managers that we develop what was instrumental in as success as well, and it was great to have you as a part of our journey of from success in in the Asia Pacific region. Thank you, Allen. You're a good friend, you're a great leader. Give our love to sue and we'll look forward to seeing you and and our audience very, very soon. Thanks everyone. Have a great day. Thanks, chess. Cheers. Thank you for listening to the ED apply experience. For more information on building a more sustainable, smarter and Healthier Business, visit www the apply groupcom for resources, tips and adds latest blocks. THAT'S THE APPLE EPP l Ey groupcom. Plus, take a free assessment at the apply Groupcom assessment to find out how you measure up as a highly skilled and accomplished manager, and we're to focus on improving your skills.

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