Thursday, January 31, 2008

Seesmic next Big Thing

“The future of online video is not YouTube or even live video, its video conversations ...”

Seesmic-ers around the world are tuning into the daily video that unfolds and follows the Seemic journey. Loïc Le Meur a Serial Entrepreneur & blogger is the brain behind this innovating business tool that is emerging as the next big thing that about to take video to the next level.
Anything that connects me safely with the rest of the world, and doesn't require me to reconfigure setting here and there and do any of the fiddly stuff gets a thumbs up on my list of great ideas. 'YouTube is about the videos, Seesmic is about the people in the videos'. Users can record videos via webcams and upload directly to Seesmic, or record using YouTube and post from that site. The company is also working on a mobile phone version of Seesmic. Is it all its cracked up to be! yes it is, this is the much long awaited platform for "video conversations"

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How do the best organizations actually change?

“John P. Kotter, on change processes and the key challenges in order to create an ongoing successful change culture.”

Which are skills and talents used by an effective Change-Leader?
The one thing that we need to understand the best, is the fundamental process by which significant change can happen effectively with a minimum of pain and expense. In the process there are all kind of different types of skills that people can, at one point or another, usefully apply, and what you find increasingly, is the significant number of people that get involved in this efforts. Very often it works because they know the roadmap.

One person helps because he is particularly good at one thing, at one particular part of the process, another person helps most because he is particularly good at another thing, at another part of the process. So it is not one person with one sort of skills that makes it happen. It’s more that sufficient people, who understand how this can work, who all contribute various skills, are set at the right time, in the right way, to make the change happen effectively.

That means the change leader is in a role of a conductor?

In a lot of cases, it increasingly is. Additionally, as the world moves faster and faster, the size of the orchestra, that he or she is dealing with, is growing: When we were at a string quartet 15 or 20 years ago - we are now up to a full orchestra, which means, that the complexity is growing.

Where do you see the differences between a Manager and a Leader – and is there a chance for a manager to become a great Leader?

What good managers do, is that they take something that exists and make it work well. They do it through the kind of processes that are taught in MBA programs: budgeting, structuring activities, people staffing, control systems, etc. All of that done well, can take even very large organisations and help all the activities happen in a way that it produces the outcome that was desired. So that the products come out of the factory on time and on budget. The thing works.

What leaders tend to do is, they either create the organisation of those systems that managers manage or they take them and help change them in a significant way, to take advantage of new opportunities or to avoid induct new hesits that are coming from the outside. They do it in totally different sorts of processes: the first of that is working with people in order to create this new vision of ‘where we want to go’ and ‘how to get from here to there’. The second important point is about communicating the information to as many relevant people as possible, in a way that they get them not only to understand, but to become convinced, that it is the right way to change into the direction toward that vision. The third is to create conditions that really motivate people, inspire people to want to put in the action that will make implement the strategy and make the vision reality, even when they run into obstacles.Those things: the vision, the strategy, the communication, the inspiration and the motivation is the leadership side of the change. While the Manager is in a more hierarchical structure and looks that the things are done in the right way, the Leader is less hierarchy based but more vision focused.

Why do firms/companies often fail in change-processes?

The first and main reason is, that it is difficult! The second reason is, that companies don’t understand the dynamics of a significant change. They don’t know the secrets of dealing with difficulties and actually making things happen without provoking a lot of frustration and pain. The reason they don’t know this is, because they didn’t grow up in an increasingly fast moving world. They saw lots of examples from companies getting hit with new technologies, companies getting hit with new competitors because of globalisation, that needed to make significant changes, and did it well. So it is not in their experience that it is so difficult. When you put it all together, it is not surprising that most of the times they don’t do a great job with a perspective significant change.

If a change process is fundamental, e.g. by a new vision or a new positioning, but not realised in the organisation as urgent, how can a Leader create an urgency for change in his organisation?

What we found is a kind of formula that get used by firms that are most successful. It all starts with step one, which is creating some sense of urgency: killing off the complacency that so easily grows in bureaucracies and also getting pass other things like fear or anger that people want to hide. Urgency is the state where I feel that ‘I’ve got to do something’ but ‘can’t do it on my own’. We’ve got to figure out new and better ways to grab up opportunities and avoid hesits. If you look how people create their urgency, and when you look at enough companies, it’s almost an endless list of creative things that people come up with, they all tend to be attention grabbing. The leaders tend to be not just to work on the rational side but also the emotional side of the brain. They grab people not only in the logic but in the stomach. No matter the form, it is all the same logic: it’s trying to take a complacent group and get them to suddenly sit up and say: maybe we need to do something! Once they get the concept, the place to start on all of this has to be, to get some minor, minimum amount of urgency going. People can be very creative at looking at their specific situation, at specific details on what is going on in a company like that, and come up with very creative ways to start making things happen.

In a change-process, how do you deal successfully with the matter of resistance and fear?

The answer to that is, the more the process is done well, the more fear goes down and resistance goes down. When people feel a sense of urgency they resist less. If they feel that the people who are pushing the most are credible, seem like a logical group to help out, seem to have skills, then, fear and resistance go down. So it does, if the vision makes sense to them, if they can understand it. But if they are trying to do something but find that they are bumping into roadblocks and barriers all the time, frustration grows and at a certain point, even if you understand ‘we got to move over there’ they get frustrated, they stop and become part of the resistance. Only if people see someone move into the right direction, they calm down, they resist less. So trust, credibility and transparence are important parts of the process.

Which key-points are important by putting together an effective change-team?

Two things:

1. The people on it has to feel some sense of urgency themselves. If they don’t, they don’t put in enough time and energy.

2. Companies have to bring together a set of complementary skills that you must obtain in order to drive a change: somebody that knows the territory, someone specialized in technology, somebody that is good at leadership, etc. At least you need to have some people who are highly trusted in the organization and have a great reputation. Some which are a little more analytical, some that are little more emotional and then, the critical thing is to get them all together to work as a team.

What are the most challenging points in order to creating an ongoing change-culture?

The most important thing by far is, that the organization achieves multiple changes successfully. When that happens the actions and attitudes that help facilitate an ongoing change-culture, will start to be part of the culture. So culture is something, that is less a cost than an effect. You can’t go at it directly: holding a meeting and explaining, what the culture has got to be, doesn’t work. The aim is to get a culture that facilitates change and not saying we need to have one. Changing will simply be successful when the experience shows that it works. Then attitude and behavior will just automatically be adopted and will create that culture, the right norms and the right values associated with it.

Regarding the structures of a winning organisation in the 21th century, what are the key-challenges for the leaders?

The challenge is to give more and more help for more and more people. In the former industrial model, a very limited number of smart people at the top of a hierarchy, were developing the strategy, and then there was a bunch of people with implements below them. If you look at some of the most successful companies on earth, which have been able to sustain their success over more than only 3 to 5 years, people are really into the game and are not just doing some limited job for contributing more understanding. In great organisations you can go five levels down the hierarchy and find people to have an intelligent discussion about corporate strategy, while in the old model, you’d have trouble going down one level. I think the challenge of making that happen, of going from a more limited, exclusive, to a more inclusive group of people, who do understand things and who contribute brains, is a tough transition from an industrial model. The people are the brain of the company not only 5 or 6 people at the top. A company in the 21th century is increasingly a knowledge driven organisation and not a machine. So it’s a big challenge, but it’s increasingly critical to making companies succeed in a rapidly changing world.

Source: Our Iceberg Is Melting: "Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions" John P. Kotter

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French bank 'had trader warning'

News ...

“French stock market officials warned Societe Generale about alleged rogue trader Jerome Kerviel late last year ...”

"There is a whirlwind of negative rumours and speculation, the worry for the financial markets now is what else is out there, which firms also have problems and when will it all come to light?

By any measure the world's leading financial firms are enormous organisations. Ahead must lie much more slimming ... organic growth have given way to large scale acquisitions fuelled by the booming global economy.

As in all industries scale confers a number of advantages particularly when aligned with profitable growth. But the pursuit of growth also has a downside, in some cases - that little red light that keeps flashing and suddenly falls off the radar - we must ask yourselves how do we manage organisations that become too big to be easily managed!

With Mr Kerviel now released on bail, the prosecutor's comments increase the pressure on the bank to explain why his trades were not discovered earlier. Mr Kerviel is being investigated for breach of trust, falsifying documents and breaching computer security. Societe Generale says his actions cost it 4.9bn euros ($7bn; £3.7bn).

'Thrown to the dogs'

The bank, which says it only discovered Mr Kerviel's unauthorised trades 10 days ago, had been pressing for Mr Kerviel to face the more serious charge of fraud.

When there is an event of this nature, it cannot remain without consequences as far as responsibilities [of senior managers] are concerned
French President Nicolas Sarkozy

His lawyer, Elisabeth Meyer, on Monday called the judges' decision not to press for fraud charges a "great victory".

Mr Kerviel's other lawyer, Christian Charriere-Bournazel, said his client had committed no fraud, adding that Societe General's chief executive Daniel Bouton had no evidence to back up his allegations.

"The word fraud was used by Mr Bouton numerous times," he said.

"Mr Bouton held this unfortunate man up for public vilification, threw him to the dogs... and there was no substance to it."

'Invented deals'

Societe Generale says Mr Kerviel had a position, or a bet, worth about 50bn euros on the future direction of European shares. That was more than the bank's value - about 35bn euros - and about the size of France's entire annual budget deficit.

To avoid that potentially catastrophic loss the bank had to unwind Mr Kerviel's trades, but that still cost it 4.9bn euros. Societe Generale said Mr Kerviel's background in handling the administration of trades enabled him to fool those monitoring traders' activities.

It says Mr Kerviel invented deals that, on paper, balanced out his bets. Under French law breach of trust carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of 370,000 euros ($546,637; £186,562).While a formal investigation has started into Mr Kerviel's actions, this does not automatically guarantee that a trial will follow.
- Founded in 1864
- 467bn euros in AUM (as of June 2007)
- 22.5 million customers worldwide
- 120,000 employees in 77 countries

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said that Societe Generale's senior managers would have to accept their share of responsibility for the scandal.

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Managing change the US way

News ...

“A new way to motivate your CEO: tell the world you've been actively trying to hire his replacement.”

That seems to be the strategy of Tom Hicks, the American businessman who bought Premiership football club Liverpool last year alongside George Gillett. He admitted to the local paper this week that the pair spoke to Jurgen Klinsmann, the former Germany boss, about taking over as Liverpool manager. When it was pointed out to the ever-astute Texan that Liverpool already had a manager – Rafael Benitez, the man who’s guided the club to two Champions League finals in his first three years on the job – Hicks suggested Klinsmann was as an ‘insurance policy’ in case Benitez took another job, or if communication between manager and chairmen failed to improve.
Apparently Hicks’ idea was to draw a line under the speculation by speaking out in support of his manager. But we’re not sure how you dampen speculation about your manager’s position by admitting to talks with another manager. Equally, we doubt that talking publicly about a communication breakdown is likely to resolve a communication breakdown. Either way, Liverpool’s top brass – including co-owner Gillet – are apparently spitting feathers over his latest indiscretion.

When Hicks (and Gillett) took over last year, most Liverpool fans were delighted. The man who had built a major US private equity firm (Hicks Muse Tate & Furst) would surely bring some proper US-style management discipline to a club that seemed to have missed the commercial boat. Despite its huge worldwide support, stemming from its European success in the 1970s and 1980s, Liverpool had been left in the shadow of local rival Manchester United – on and off the field. The new US owners would surely smarten up the club’s act.

Instead, they’ve done exactly the opposite. Hicks and Gillet have spent more time in the sports pages than the team – if they’re not fighting amongst themselves, or failing to refinance the loan they used to buy the club, or trying to flog a stake to Dubai, they’ve been falling out very publicly with their manager (who hasn’t done himself any favours by whinging to the papers about his lack of transfer funds). And this at a club that has never washed its dirty linen in public.

If this was a standard company, Benitez would be out on his ear already (and probably suing for constructive dismissal, on the basis of that interview). But he has one big advantage that your average CEO doesn’t have – the presence of 50,000 fanatical supporters chanting his name every fortnight. Hicks will be a brave man to take on the fans, and if he does it’s unlikely to do a great deal for Anglo-US relations in the North West. A banner at the last FA Cup game summed it up nicely: ‘Thanks Yanks – More Friendly Fire’...

Source: Management Today

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Midas List

“Forbes' annual Midas 100 list surveys the top tech deal makers in the world”

Last year, companies that venture capitalists helped launch hauled in $34 billion from 86 public offerings and 304 acquisitions. The final quarter of 2007 saw 31 IPOs--more than any other quarter since the third quarter of 2000--worth $3 billion. Here's our assessment of who did what--and how much they and their investors profited Recent credit crunch and market woes be damned: Technology's most powerful deal makers have been on a winning streak.

Companies that venture capitalists helped launch hauled in $34 billion from 86 public offerings and 304 acquisitions last year. The final quarter of 2007 saw 31 IPOs--more than any other quarter since 2000's third quarter--worth $3 billion.

The Forbes Midas List shows just who ushered in all those billions. Our ranking considers venture-backed technology and life sciences companies that have gone public or been acquired in the past five years, as well as the amount of capital it took to get there and the level of involvement in a company by its investors and advisers.

Topping our list this year is L. John Doerr, a star partner at famed venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Doerr led Kleiner's investment in search behemoth Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ). The company raised a total of $40 million in venture capital and reached a market capitalization of nearly $17 billion on its first day of trading--a 400 bagger even before the aftermarket run-up in the stock. Today Google is worth a staggering $178 billion. Doerr was also an early investor in, and adviser to, Tellme, a voice software shop sold in May to Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) for an estimated $800 million.

These days Doerr spends much of his time aiding entrepreneurs and scientists who are creating alternative fuels, eco-friendly sources of power and electric vehicles, among other things. "I worry that America will not be able to innovate fast enough in its policies and technologies to prevent the catastrophic, irreversible climate crisis. I want Kleiner to make major, measurable contributions to solving global warming. It's the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century, and a moral imperative," says Doerr, whose firm has invested in 26 energy-related investments. A third of the $1 billion KP has under management is earmarked for green tech (see "Growing Up Green").

Many trigger-happy venture capitalists are following suit. According to Dow Jones VentureSource, U.S. venture capitalists invested $2.5 billion in so-called clean tech ventures in 2007.

Clean tech is a popular place to put new money, but when it comes to returns, some of the best payoffs are coming from investments that venture capitalists made in foreign markets a few years ago., an e-commerce spin-out of Alibaba Group, a Beijing Internet conglomerate, achieved a $26 billion market cap with its IPO last November.

Fantasy game developer Perfect World (nasdaq: PWRD - news - people ), also based in Beijing, reached a $1.1 billion market cap with its IPO. And it took only $8 million in venture money to get there. (See "Creating Asia's White Picket Fence.")

Internet radio site took in just $5 million before selling to CBS (nyse: CBS - news - people ) in May for $280 million.'s backer, Daniel Rimer of Index Ventures, is only 37, but he's an old hand at generating massive returns. Rimer, No. 20 on our list, also backed Internet telephony provider Skype, which raised a mere $19 million before selling to eBay (nasdaq: EBAY - news - people ) in October 2005 for $3.1 billion.

Among the most frugal companies that sold out in 2007: Cushcraft, a maker of radio antennas. The Manchester, N.H., company raised $2.2 million from Polaris Venture Partners in 2003 and was sold to Laird Technologies a year ago for $90 million. Other profitable cheapskates: online backup and recovery shop Berkeley Data Systems, which raised $2.7 million and was sold to EMC (nyse: EMC - news - people ) in September for $76 million, and StumbleUpon, a young search outfit that raised $2 million and was sold to eBay in May for $75 million.

Venture capitalists are trying to breed more big wins. They put $30 billion to work in 2,600 new ventures last year, says Dow Jones VentureSource. Which sectors were the most popular? Biopharmaceuticals, medical devices and energy took 60% of that pie. Internet deals, which got lots of press in 2007, brought in another $3.7 billion. One of the largest deals in that category was Facebook. The social networking site raised $60 million in venture money last November from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing, which followed a similar equity investment by Microsoft.

Venture firms raised another $35 billion in new funds from their investors--pension funds, university endowments and wealthy families--in 2007, according to the National Venture Capital Association. The heftiest fund of the year also set a record for raising the most money for a single-technology venture fund. Technology Crossover Ventures raised $3 billion from more than 100 investors.

The billion-dollar question is whether venture capitalists will be able to reap returns if the U.S. falls into a recession. The stock markets have been brutal battlegrounds these past few weeks. If public market investors continue their skittish ways, bankers will be reluctant to introduce new offerings. Many of the venture-backed companies that planned to go public this year will be forced to shelve their plans. And leading companies that are already public may not want to take the financial risk of acquiring new businesses--the predominant way that venture capitalists find liquidity.

The longer that exit-ready companies sit in the portfolios of venture firms, the less likely venture capitalists will be to make new investments. (They will need the cash to help existing portfolio companies tread water.) It happened in 2001 and lasted a couple of years. Many venture capitalists remember the agony of shutting down portfolio companies and laying off thousands of employees. In sotto voce, they still refer to it as "nuclear winter."

Tech Dealmakers: Their Best Advice ...
Venture capitalists share what will get them to invest in your idea.

Source: Forbes

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

SocGen’s €5bn rogue trader crisis

News ....

“Trust is a two way street”

Rogue trader Jérome Kerviel, a 31-year-old Frenchman, joined SocGen in 2000 and worked on the Delta One trading desk on the bank’s Paris trading floor. The bank said that because of the actions of Mr Kerviel and a €2.05bn writedown linked to subprime loans and bond insurers in the US it would launch an emergency €5.5bn rights issue. The massive trading losses were caused by positions taken in the European stock futures markets that backfired. This kind of activity raises serious questions about banks’ risk-management procedures and their ability to control their own trading positions. One analyst said: "This news will cast a dark cloud over the already troubled European banking sector." SocGen refused to give any details of the trader, who it said had confessed and been suspended pending a dismissal procedure !!!

Carlos Garcia at Fortis in Madrid:
"The most serious thing is that this puts into doubt the risk management systems at some banks. You can't suddenly announce from one day to the next a hit of $7 billion. In the light of this, what we've done is to downgrade banks that are very linked to trading income or whose capital base is weak."

SocGen boss said the rogue trader’s loss had been exaggerated by difficult market conditions this week. But he defended the bank’s risk-management processes. “All our models of stress-testing work perfectly well,”

My question is how can someone within a trading environment by-pass IT security let alone continue to operate fraudalently for a considerable amount of time, and not be noticed, whatever happened to random audit checks and monitoring ! ...

The losses raised eyebrows among other regulators around the world and provoked intense debate in Davos ...

John Gapper commented in the Telegraphy "Jérome Kerviel of Société Générale likeness to Barings is striking"

The comparisons between the trading losses at Société Générale and those which caused the collapse of Barings in 1995 are striking. In both cases, a young man responsible for trading exchange-traded equity futures on behalf of the bank ended up accumulating a big hidden position that the bank did not know about. In the Barings case, the trader was Nick Leeson, who was a trader on the floor of the Simex derivatives exchange in Singapore.

In both cases as well, the trader involved had formerly worked in the back office and was then given a promotion to a trading position. Mr Leeson earned his promotion because he was highly-regarded for his ability to solve clearing and settlement problems that had plagued Barings’ back office.

Jérome Kerviel was one of a few back office people who were promoted to the trading floor as part of the bank’s efforts to offer opportunities to people who worked in the less prestigious back office. He was allowed to trade only under strict limits and he only earned about €100,000 in compensation.

Both traders used their knowledge of back office procedures to conceal the true size of their positions from controllers at their banks
. Mr Leeson was in charge of the back office as well as trading in Singapore, while Mr Kerviel logged into computers in the names of other employees to falsify the accounts.

Another similarity is that both deceptions went on for a long time before finally being caught. Mr Leeson’s rogue trading position – in an account numbered 88888 – had been in existence for two years by the time that it escalated into the £860m loss that caused Barings’ collapse in February 1995.

The losses also escalated sharply right at the end of the deception. More than half of Mr Leeson’s losses piled up in January 1995 as the Nikkei index fell. Mr Kerviel built up a large hidden position earlier this month and the bank’s losses rose sharply this week as it struggled to close out that position.

Finally, Mr Leeson and Mr Kerviel appear to have been similar in not making a personal profit from their deceptions, beyond an impact on their annual bonuses from appearing to be successful traders.

Source: FT, Telegraph

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Reinvent and become the new You

“Who would you be, if you were to reinvent yourself”

Which of us hasn't wondered what might have been if only we'd turned down that easy graduate job offer and followed a more creative path instead? It's never too late to reinvent yourself.

Who doesn't sometimes sit - in cubicle or corner office - wondering how rosy life would be if they had pursued their original goal of being a writer, a musician or a racing driver? A career move not taken, a talent wasted or a risk avoided is a mid-life crisis waiting to happen. We hear Decombe's words in Henry James's short story, The Middle Years: 'A second chance - that's the delusion. There never was to be but one.'
But according to the biggest-ever research project looking into our middle years at the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, what we believe and what is actually happening are worlds apart. Joint research editor Ron Kessler, professor of healthcare policy at Harvard, found anything but 'crisis' at the age of 50. In fact, he calls the mid-life years (aged 30 to 70) a time of 'middle calm'.

It's not that career decisions weren't questioned, he says, but that maturity prevailed and allowed us to reframe our original goals. 'We found that mid-lifers who give up the impossible dream often feel a sense of relief,' he adds. He also found, contrary to popular belief, that the lowest rate of depression occurs in mid-life. 'For mid-life mental illness, the graph looks like a smiley face,' he says.

A key finding of the research is that mid-lifers, feeling the effects of long-term prosperity and continuing good health, no longer see the middle years as the beginning of the end. Indeed, this is when they are most likely to shift their goals - women in particular. What psychologists like Brendan Burchell at the University of Cambridge noted is that the dreams and interests put aside in youth - the hiking boots, the piano and the design books - are retrieved in this period. Female entrepreneurs have jumped on the boom in mid-life interest to start companies aimed at their peers.

One successful example is Curves International, a woman-only gym franchise based in Texas but now operating all over the world. Aimed at over-35s, Curves has become the fastest-growing franchise in history, with 95% of the owners being women. There are now even 'adventure coaches' who specialise in taking middle-aged women on middle-earth adven tures. This period - even if it involves divorce and redund- ancy - is not so much a time of crisis as a time of challenge.

Men are less likely to take up yoga or Buddhism but are just as likely to re-evaluate their original goals. Economists call this trend 'voluntary downshifting', but for many it means moving from an established career, such as banking, law or IT, to a more meaningful or creative job in the arts or education. Says Burchell: 'A common change is from high-paid, low-satisfaction jobs to ones with more meaning or intrinsic satisfaction - for instance, from IT worker to teacher.'

Orville Brim, director of the Florida-based MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development, noted that what mid-lifers seek most is to 'live a life of manageable difficulty'. The consensus is that 12-hour days are no longer desirable. 'It slowly dawns on us that we'll never write that rock-opera sequel to Tommy, or maybe be a father,' Brim said in an interview. 'Our big boyhood dreams have been precious, and it's easy to feel like a failure once it's clear they're dead.' At this point, one can either fall into despair or come up with a new angle.

In 'life' transitions, stage one is about loss - of a job, status or youth, or a relationship - attended by feelings of shock and surrender. Then comes a letting go of the trappings of success, the title or the company car - involving anxiety, guilt and self-doubt. Finally, a clear direction occurs. This 'resolution and integration' is followed by enjoyment and even gratitude.

According to Win Sheffield, a former banker turned career coach in New York, each phase must be endured, though some get through it faster than others. A typical career transition is from the financial sector onwards. 'Often, the first job people are offered after university is in the financial sector,' he explains. 'Many people who call themselves recovering lawyers feel they went into this career because it was there, on offer.' At a certain point, they decide they want something different and this is where Sheffield comes in handy, helping prepare them for job interviews by teaching them how to use the skills learned in their previous job.

The natural fear of failure subsides when the client explores the basis on which they formed their self-esteem. 'I say: "Let's talk about your successes in the past", and I ask for specifics, like a deal that went particularly well. Sometimes people step away and think: "Wow, I was really patient and shrewd about the monetary aspects of the business." It doesn't matter whether it was 10 years ago or not,' he adds. 'If you were once an organiser, you will always be a competent organiser.'

After exploration, comes the setting of the goal and finally the job search. In many cases, Harvard's Kessler finds, the fear of change is far greater than the actual transition. This is because three of the greatest benefits of mid-life are experience, confidence and a willingness to break from the pack. This time is no longer about disappearing into the void.

Mid-lifers who feel life is meaningless, says Kessler, are those whose expectations were out of sync with reality. Far from being about doom and gloom, these years are about 'doing what I want to do'. He adds: 'A woman might become a new mother at mid-life or she may start a new career. Life patterns are much more diversified today.'

Elliott Jacques, the Canadian psychoanalyst who coined the expression 'mid-life crisis', described that phase as 'when people find themselves beset with misgivings, agonising enquiries and loss of zest'. The reality is vastly different today. Motorcycle sales are up 34% in the US among mid-lifers.

In the past, argues Mark Gerzon, author of Coming Into our Own, the only alternative was to be stuck in a rut or to have a mid-life crisis. Today, it's about recovery, or what he calls 'mid-life healing'.

RICHARD ATHERTON - From management consultancy to comedy...

Atherton, 30, worked as a management consultant for Arthur Andersen, then at Deloitte, for nearly seven years. 'It was what you did straight from university,' he says. He began receiving bonuses and was well thought of, yet he often felt himself to be an impostor.

On a business trip to Edinburgh, he would sneak off to comedy shows until the early hours, only to face a 9am meeting the next day. One day, his boss said: 'If you want to become a senior manager, you will have to make a decision to commit or to leave.'

Atherton took this as a signal that it was time to change. He rented out his flat and split up with his girlfriend, who had, he says, 'started dating a successful management consultant and ended up dating a penniless comedian/promoter'. He'd produced comedy shows at university but never committed to it properly. He eventually hooked up with Melanie Dias to start Bonobo Presents, now a critically acclaimed variety club that once a month showcases the country's best comedians alongside magicians, poets and dancers, at the Grill Room in London's Cafe Royal.

He is not earning anything like his former salary, but he's thankful for the business experience. 'My previous career taught me how to communicate and work with teams. Being up there in front of the board gives you courage to take on people and situations. And I have a lot of rich friends coming to my show.'

He admits that he worried about failure, but after spending months reading self-help books (Anyone Can Do It, by Sahar and Bobby Hashemi was his favourite), he found the motivation to think positively. 'They all say you have to set goals and burn bridges. I now aim to be a highly successful entertainer and producer. However, I consider it almost a handicap to have had a well-paid career first, because there's always a temptation to retreat to the safety blanket of your former life.'

The most valuable lesson he learned was: 'Don't try and get it all worked out before you leave the day job. Just take that first step.'

NIA MORRIS - From lawyer to interior designer...

Morris left Oxford in 1981 with a PPE degree and moved to merchant bank HSBC. After a year, she decided that banking was not for her, and enrolled at law school. 'I guess I thought law would be more intellectual than banking.'

She started her legal career at Linklaters, working in the banking and structured-finance division, and became a partner in 1992. In 1995, she left to join a large US firm, Weil Gotshal & Manges. By then she was married and had two children. When the third arrived and began suffering health difficulties, Morris resigned from her job. She spent six years at home and assumed that she would return to the law when her daughter recuperated. 'I was 35 and had invested 15 to 20 years in law. Technically, I was still on maternity leave.'

Morris went back to work as a strategist at New York law firm Cadwalader, but left after six months. 'I didn't want to be in this environment any more,' she says. 'I thought I should be able to come up with a better idea than this.' After exploring several routes, including arts management, Morris enrolled at KLC School of Design in Chelsea. Before the end of the course, she'd landed her first job.

She founded Studio OHM, a high-end residential interior-design business, with partners Louise Holt (a former banker) and Emma Oldham (who previously ran a design business, Space Boudoir). The transition was smooth. 'Being a lawyer has helped me enormously,' she says. 'Actually, the jobs are quite similar. It's a client-based service job; it's about managing projects and managing relationships. The only difference now is that the subject is more creative.'

In hindsight, she would have embarked on a creative path earlier. 'My advice to students would be to do what you love, not what necessarily pays better. The problem is that there are no opportunities presented to you on a plate in the arts. But I don't think there are jobs for life any more. Law firms no longer offer tenure and this has been quite liberating. It gives you a reason to try something else.'

PHILIP NIXON - From brokering to Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist...

Nixon, 43, graduated from Newcastle University and went to a work for a large oil company before moving into bond sales at various banks. But after 12 years he decided it wasn't for him. 'I had originally wanted to be an architect, but I could see no future. It was the booming '80s and it seemed that if you didn't get in now, it would be gone.'

He would have stayed longer at UBS if his team had not been poached by a Japanese bank, which left him with a sizeable chunk of money. The markets had changed and, in his own words, 'it was smarter to stop trading'.

He volunteered to work at the Chelsea Physic Garden in his free time and soon found his former interests rekindled. 'It reminded me of my original interests in architecture and design.' He enrolled at the Inchbald School of Design in 2003 to do a masters in landscape and garden design, but not without doing the footwork. 'I did a lot of research first by speaking to as many people in the business as I could, and second, reading profiles of major designers. I didn't go into it blind. I saw there were opportunities to be taken.'

He entered the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2004; by 2005 he had the first of two Chelsea Gold medals, and last year won a Silver Gilt. He now runs a four-strong practice, with jobs spread out from London, Moscow, Geneva and Sweden.

He considers his previous employment essential. 'It helped me hugely. One, it gave me a level of maturity; and second, it gave me the ability to deal with demanding clients. There is an element of unprofessionalism to this business and many think it's only about gardening and not running a business. For this reason, I think clients take me more seriously.'

In retrospect, he would encourage people to take a creative leap. What stops them is often a lack of imagination or unrealistic expectations as to earnings. He has financially caught up with his previous income (in the '90s), though, he says, one should expect a cut in salary, at least initially.

Source: Management Today

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Monday, January 21, 2008

How effective is your Organization

“Six Sigma is a sweeping "culture change ... "”

... its effort to position a company for great customer satisfaction, profitability and competitiveness.

Six Sigma is a comprehensive and flexible system for achieving, sustaining, and maximizing business success. Six Sigma is uniquely driven by close understanding of customer needs, disciplined use of facts, data and statistical analysis, and diligent attention to managing, improving and reinventing business processes. The types of business success you may achieve are broad because the proven benefits of the Six Sigma "system" are diverse, including

Cost reduction
Productivity improvement
Market-share growth
Customer retention
Cycle-time reduction
Defect reduction
Culture change
Product/service development

and more.

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ERP change does not need to be pain

“SAP ERP do it right, or re-think your steps”

Its often the case that most ERP change is complex, overlaying your current business processes with an ERP system has not delivered the kind of benefits that you wanted to see. Time and time again the solution team has grown so large everyone and anyone who is a SME is involved that the people actually masterminding the change not only attempt to focus on implementing the new system but can lose sight of the real end goal "to improve the supply chain business processes" ...

So here's the thing

When I think of supply chain business processes, or for that matter your CEO thinks about the business, they want to know that their business processes are:
cost-effective, efficient, innovation, value for money, fit for purpose, doing it better than the competition, best practices, streamlined, framework, roadmap transparency, governance & compliance = more customers

Then several other things spring to mind, large organisations continue to operate within complex models and various stages of complexity than can hinder growth:
complexity is deeply embed in core processed that rely on antiquated legacy systems, broken bad disjointed duplicated processes that are outdated, in-effective and expensive = all this tells me that these organisations know little about what their businesses actually do

In a typical enterprise, the lion's share of the IT budget is invested in the existing landscape's consolidation and ongoing operations. Once a mission-critical solution is installed, configured, and live, companies are ready to dedicate their remaining resources to improving their processes - preferably without upgrading the ERP backbone. But to gain a holistic understanding about what SAP and any other technology solution can do you need to understand what your business is currently doing, identify the gaps/impact of changing these processes through transition, align the business processes to the solution model and map out what success will look like ...

Many Change Management interventions are based on the business understanding the TO BE processes, how the process will change end-to-end, including not only the processes within SAP but also how they will interface with the entire application landscape. I hear it all the time, we've just implemented/upgraded SAP and cannot see the benefits we're no more effective than we were before the change. Well naturally overlaying technology to mask broken bad processes will not solve your problems, it just adds another layer of complexity. Refinement and redesign of business models should be completed in the early stages, having an idea of what your business should look like going forward is imperative ...

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

John Duffield has 'lost £100m'

NEWS ...

“New Star shares collapse by 31pc, the City wonders if the fund's boss has lost his magic.”

John Duffield, New Star's colourful boss, takes senior managers round London on an open top bus at night to review the fund manager's attention-grabbing billboard adverts. On these monthly evenings out, Duffield is on the prowl for the smallest imperfection in the way the adverts have been presented. If he finds any, the contractor can expect an irate call and a demand for a price drop.

In the cold light of yesterday's profit warning from New Star, many were saying the company's concern with marketing and presentation may have been its problem.

" New Star's shares were sold as a go-go stock, which had to be underpinned by massive growth. That has been fuelled by massive marketing of its funds," said one close observer.

New Star, whose shares collapsed by 31pc yesterday after it revealed a hefty outflow of funds and a dividend cut, was desperately trying to reassure the stock market and the thousands of clients whose money it manages that it is going through a rough patch, triggered by several setbacks coming at once, and will recover later this year.

But some are wondering whether the Duffield magic has worn off and if his own star is on the wane.

When Duffield launched New Star in 2000, he was flush from the success of Jupiter, another asset management firm he had created in 1985 with just £150,000 of his own money, selling it to Germany's Commerzbank in two slices in 1995 and 2000 for a total of £680m. The investment community had high hopes for the new firm.

Mark Dampier, head of research at independent financial advisers Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Jupiter was a fantastic success. John brought great managers together and he was a brilliant marketer."

Now it is Duffield's talent for combining marketing flair with picking star managers that is in question. In addition to the growing suspicion that New Star may have been over-reliant on marketing, the shine has come off some of its star managers.

Alan Miller, Duffield's right-hand man at Jupiter, followed him to New Star but left the company last year after a disappointing run by his UK Growth fund.

Another long-standing senior employee, Richard Pease, is among the individuals whose poor performance recently contributed to yesterday's profit warning.

Meanwhile James Ridgewell, who has headed up a poster campaign for the group's "New Star's new stars" was demoted earlier this week from running the UK Special Situations Fund to a role helping Tim Steer, the former City analyst, run the company's strongly-performing Alpha Fund.

Duffield yesterday told The Daily Telegraph: "Nobody is more sorry than me - I have lost £100m from the peak to today - and it is pretty tough to lose £100m."

Few had much sympathy. Duffield has crossed swords with many in the financial world since he started as a stockbroker in 1961.

Most infamous was his bust-up with Commerzbank, which he referred to as a group of Nazis, calling members of the bank's senior management Hitler, Himmler and Goering, when they fell out over the sale of the final part of Jupiter in 2000. He has also had a fiery relationship with Jupiter's current head, Edward Bonham Carter, and yesterday some in the City reacted to the serious blow to Duffield's reputation with glee.

There is also a view that Duffield has a lot of work to do to put things right. "The company has grown too rapidly and it seems to be a place where there are lots of people who have joined as stars," said one person in the asset management world. "In contrast at other places a lot of people have joined as management trainees and there is a strong internal culture."

Another challenge at the company - which floated on Aim in November 2005 at 225p a share - is over whether it can keep key staff. The share incentive scheme which has locked in almost all senior employees makes its final pay-out next year.

There are also questions over New Star's decision last year to gear up its balance sheet with £250m of debt so that it could return cash to shareholders. Carolyn Dorrett, an analyst at Citigroup, said New Star should be able to retain enough funds under management to stay within its covenant to its lead banker HBOS, which lent it the money. "However, given the current difficult market conditions for fund flows, both across the UK and at New Star in particular, we will monitor this figure carefully going forward."

Ross Curran at UBS said that by slashing its dividend New Star is freeing up cash which it can use to pay off its debt, giving it breathing space with its banks. "However, a further 10pc fall in markets would make things tight," Curran said.

The final challenge is that New Star has found itself with large bets in many of the least attractive areas. Its commercial property fund was its biggest seller last year, yet its value has fallen sharply, reflecting the 10pc dive in property values in the past six months. Pease - whose historic performance in his European Growth Fund has been strong - has been hit by the fact that his holdings in medium-sized continental companies have had a bad run compared to large-cap stocks.

Duffield does not plan to force through significant change in the European or property funds, sources said. But they added that he has said in briefings this week that major changes can be expected on the funds managing UK shares, which have also been disappointing. Stephen Whittaker, who replaced Miller in charge of UK Growth Fund, and Toby Thompson, who runs the Higher Income Fund, are likely to keep their jobs, sources said, but Duffield may shift some employees sideways and hire more people to beef up his teams.

Howard Covington, New Star's chief executive, said plans for a new incentive scheme were well under way. "We have spoken to all of the big names and they are all on side," he said. But he acknowledged that there could be further ructions. "That is not to say nobody else will leave".

Taking the pressure off New Star a little is the fact that the fund management industry in general has been in turmoil. F&C only swung back into profit last year after its merger with Isis three years ago. Amvescap, which owns the Invesco brand, has had a bumpy ride in the past few years and Schroders has also changed its business model in response to heavy outflows of funds and a squeeze on profit margins.

Some observers believe that even if New Star's shares stay at the current depressed level, it will not be all bad for 68-year-old Duffield. The business, which is 35pc owned by its employees, could be taken private by the multi-millionaire and his senior circle.

Alternatively there are likely to be buyers for the business at its current price. Duffield may prefer to knock New Star back into shape in its current form, as much for his own reputation as for financial reasons.

Source: The Business

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Staging A Successful Comeback

“Across the globe we hear people embarking on staging their own successful comebacks ...”

  • Whether its learning the "10 Tips to Successful Class Reunion"

  • Return of Kevin Keegan ... "back to sort out unfinished business" at Newcastle Football

  • Back Street Boys in 2005 ... "Don't bother choosing the music; let the music choose you"

  • Robbie Williams ... "$300m comeback tour"

  • And there's YOU ...

So what if you're not celebrity ... You can still be a superstar ...

1. What would you do to stage your very own successful comeback?
2. What does it actually mean to YOU?
3. How would you relaunch yourself to be bigger, better than ever before?

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Work Smarter Not Harder

NEWS ...

“Workers in the US put in more hours at work and take fewer vacation days than those in most industrialized countries”

... But the U.S isn't the most productive country in the world. When it comes to full productivity, according to The Economist, France wins, working only forty hours a week with lots of vacation. Conversations with clients and friends suggest people work hard, but, well, stupidly. We're busy, but our important priorities are falling by the wayside as we work hard when we should be working smart. Working smart means getting the same results in less time. To do that, you must change how you work. You'll get the most by changing your speed, increasing focus, and organising to do things in parallel.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

UBS revamp after sub-prime losses

“Swiss Investment Bank UBS plans to shrink its investment banking business ...”

"I know that 2007 was a year that challenged and tested us all individually and collectively," UBS CEO Mr Rohner said.After huge losses caused by exposure to problems in the US sub-prime housing market. UBS makes further job cuts and scale back on its more-risky strategies, Marcel Rohner outlined in today's internal memo.
UBS has written off about $14bn (£7.1bn) in debts linked to sub-prime loans and has warned of further losses. The dramatic plans to streamline operations at UBS centre on the division responsible for its distressed mortgage-backed investments.

These holdings will be gradually wound up, as the no longer attractive sector they invested in has suffered badly.

Staffing levels in the division will significantly reduce, and the amount of capital the bank commits to that area of business will also shrink by two-thirds.

In an internal memo, seen by the BBC, Mr Rohner also said he wanted UBS to focus on its clients rather than on using the bank's capital to boost its profits.

Bond and currency trading business will also be restructured to cut costs and transfer capital to more profitable areas.

Tough times

The changes come as UBS struggles to better position itself after becoming one of the worst victims of the global credit squeeze.

Last July the firm layed off 1,500 jobs, sacked its chief exec Peter Wuffli and replaced him with his deputy Marcel Rohner. Like many of its troubled peers, UBS has turned to wealthy state-backed funds in the Middle and Far East for financial support.

Singapore's investment arm has bought shares in the bank for almost $10bn, while an unnamed Middle Eastern investor, thought to be the Oman government, has also taken a stake.

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CEOs second act holding the reigns

“Second Acts: Why CEOs Get Them And CIOs Don't”

Starbucks' CIO Brian Crynes Leaves Amidst Management Shake Up
Replacing Crynes in the CIO role is Chris Bruzzo, who was named acting CIO in addition to vice president and CTO—a new position inside the company. Bruzzo reports to Starbucks' COO Martin Coles. As part of the company's renewed focus on its customers, Bruzzo is responsible for coming up with ways to connect with customers, including loyalty programs, that use technology

Last week's Howard Schultz's returned to the helm of Starbucks as CEO. "Second Acts" is fairly common for CEO's. In 2007 Michael Dell was welcomed back to the c-suite to revitalize Dell's growth. Charles Schwab reinstalled as CEO in July 2004, after having stepped down as CEOP 14 months earlier in May 2003.

Second acts are not common for CIOs or any C-level exec ...

Retired CEOs get called back because of their exposure and accountability to shareholders. It's much less common for other C-level execs whether CIO, CFO or COO, to be brought back because shareholders don't associate them with corporate success.

"If the CEO leaves and the company's stock suffers, the shareholders view that person as the savior who needs to return,"

Other reasons why CIOs are much less likely to entertain second acts than CEOs:

1. CIOs are literally out of touch with the business. A CIO who moves to a new company no longer has his finger on the pulse of his old employer. By contrast, a CEO who steps down from his post often remains on board as the company's chairman and thus maintains his association with the business and its challenges. A CIO who's left the company does not have the same knowledge of the company that the CEO-turned-chairman has and therefore does not have the same ideas and ability to impact the company as the CEO.

2. CIOs are often responsible for their own succession planning, but CEOs are not. Groce says boards of directors often view selecting the next CEO as their responsibility. So if a new CEO doesn't work out, the board may beg the chairman to return to the CEO role. If a departing CIO appoints a successor who fails to measure up, that CIO will be viewed as having failed in his succession planning duties, and thus the management team with which he worked may not be inclined to invite him back to the table, says Groce.

3. Moving back into the CIO role can feel like a demotion. A CIO who moves into a new role with his company may not want to go back to the CIO role, even if the management team pleads with him to do so and considers him to be a knight in shining armor.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hedge fund industry in good shape despite credit crisis

NEWS ...

“latest data on hedge fund performance reinforces early signs that the $1.8 trillion (£917bn, E1.2 trillion) sector can look back on the past 12, turbulent months with relief.”

Based on a database of around 7,000 funds (out of a global total of more than 11,000), Hedge Fund Research’s broad composite index of returns shows total average returns, after management fees are deducted, of 10.36% in the 12 months to 31 December. That just surpasses returns – based on reinvested dividends and share price gains – of 9.04% from the Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) World Index of equities.
The ability to beat a broad market index (if only by one percentage point) is a reminder of why hedge funds have expanded so rapidly in recent years. They use leverage – punting on assets with borrowed money – and short sell equities to help earn steady returns over the long term, even in turbulent markets.

(Short selling is when a fund borrows stocks, sells them and then repurchases them at a cheaper price to make a profit.)

But performances such as this are unlikely to be good enough to allow hedge funds to continue charging their high fees, with criticism from the investment industry mounting last year. Hedge funds typically charge an annual management charge of 2% and a performance fee of 20% or more, considerably higher than traditional long-only funds.

Last year’s best performers were funds that focused on the emerging markets of Asia, chalking up total returns of 35.88%. Emerging market hedge funds as a whole, which embrace not just Asia but also Latin America and Eastern Europe, achieved an average return of 23.17%.

Energy-linked funds – which bet on sectors such as natural gas – were also notable high performers, with average returns of 16.47%. It is a stark contrast to 2006’s performance, which was dominated by the collapse of Amaranth, the American hedge fund that suffered heavy losses after incorrectly calling the natural gas market.

There were some black spots in 2007: funds that focus on financial services companies were hit as the sector was clobbered by the credit crunch. Here returns were negative, at -5.88%, which means investors lost money on their original capital.

So the hedge fund industry did not pass through 2007 unscathed by the credit turmoil. But this latest data demonstrates that the industry as a whole, having endured a torrid summer, is overall still in decent health.

Source: The Business | Wealth Management

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Apple MacBook Air is Innovation in a league of its own

“New super-slim Apple MacAir is sexy incomparison to MacBook Pro”

But the question is does the looks make it any better. Being branded as the world's thinnest laptop, it has a 13.3-inch widescreen LED display, full-size keyboard, and large multi-touch trackpad, built in wireless, bluetooth, Intel Core 2 Duo memory processor at 1.6 GHz, 80GB HD "very nice ... 12x8 paper size".

Only snag it starts at $1799 bordering on the pricey side, minus a DVD slot ??? not nice, you want portability, you don't want to fork out for extra accessories like MacBook Air SuperDrive (MB397G/A) however small it is.

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Executive Woman's Guide to Self-Promotion

“Ambitious women sometimes have a hard time getting noticed ...”

Marketing your accomplishments is a requirement for career advancement. Six female CIOs offer advice to up-and-coming women in IT and explain how they learned to network without compromising themselves

To move up in any organization, IT professionals need to engage in a little marketing. Self-promotion isn't the crass skill of acting like a brazen minx, but rather gaining the interest and attention of others and, over time, earning their respect and trust. Reputation is everything for any would-be IT executive, and it's important to get it right.

However, some women must overcome aversions to self-promotion, conflict and voicing their opinion. "This has been difficult for me," admits Denise Stephens, the director of Information Technology and CIO at Washington Savannah River Company. "I must consciously conquer my natural tendency to hold back when interacting in conflict situations." Women can worry—occasionally with reason—that they'll be negatively labeled if they are assertive and speak out. "I keep this in mind but do not let it hold me back," says Stephens, "as I have rarely seen women penalized by these labels if they get the job done."

Your career is in your power. "Some women hold back because they don't think they can network or communicate on the same level as their male peers or management. Get over it," says Janis O'Bryan, CIO and senior vice president of IT at Hudson Advisors. "If you are good at what you do, and a professional, you can compete for the next level. Don't self-impose a glass ceiling."

Volunteer for Visible Assignments

You want to be appreciated and acknowledged for making a difference. That means you have to do something that has a visible effect—and also gives you the opportunity to shine.

Take charge of something visible, that people need, advises Magalene Powell-Meeks, Deputy CIO at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). "Put yourself in the position of solving a problem, and solve it for them," she says, "Even if it's a crappy job." Be the leader in that position, even if it's a small one, she says, and apply your unique technology or process to help those people. Become the go-to person in your discipline.

The momentum you build is more important than a fancy title, says Powell-Meeks. By helping your customer (whether that customer is internal to the company or an outside user), you build trust with your customer base—a big key to advancement. "Your reputation and your character are what sell you for the next big job," Powell-Meeks says.

Sometimes that means you have to stretch yourself and take on a role that scares you. It's worth it. Elizabeth Austin, vice president of IT Operations and Infrastructure at Family Dollar, believes her openness to new challenges offered her interesting opportunities to work in a variety of roles with each employer. "Many of the roles have been nontraditional for women. For example, I've worked in construction and manufacturing business applications implementation and support roles. In my current role, I have operations and infrastructure responsibilities for a discount retailer, which have provided many opportunities for learning new technologies and the retail business environment."

Don't wait for opportunities to come to you. If there's no obvious way to gain recognition in your day-to-day work, find someplace where you can contribute. Cindy Hughes, CIO of Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, has volunteered for corporate presentations, speaking to outside groups about the company or about what is going on in her department.

Stephens says, "Work can be like sports. As people are picking their teams, they want the known players who deliver. Become known as a player who delivers, and your opportunities will grow."

Reach Outside IT

That touches on another success factor shared by these woman CIOs: Don't huddle inside the IT department. As IT staff everywhere know far too well, when IT is working, it's invisible. To be noticed personally, you have to walk outside the data center.

Stephens urges ambitious women to volunteer for assignments that provide opportunities outside the usual working relationships. "This could be working on an enterprisewide initiative or working on something focused in another discipline," she explains. When Stephens was an IT manager, she took the opportunity to develop a section of her corporation's application to the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. "Although my assigned section had an information systems theme, working on this enterprise team exposed me to diverse functions and people throughout the corporation," she says.

Doing so helps you do your job effectively—how can it hurt to develop a cross-functional perspective on company goals, strategy and culture?—and also builds your reputation as someone who gets things done. And it sets you apart from typical IT professionals, who merely focus on their specific assignment and technical discipline.

Case in point: Early in Stephens's career, she took the opportunity to work outside her immediate organization, the marketing and sales arm of the company. "Through specific initiatives, I became known within that circle as someone who did whatever was necessary to support the customer and their marketing efforts. The relationships I formed led to more opportunities."

"If your management and peers trust your judgment and you deliver on your promises, you are 80 percent there," says O'Bryan. "The rest is relationships. Make time to get out of your office, use the phone or travel to network with the other people in the company. It is important to build relationships with all levels. Be the person with the answer."

Show Progress

It's one thing to achieve or exceed your goals—but you won't move ahead unless others notice the accomplishment.

Personal ambition aside, it's important to communicate what you and your team have done, especially given IT's tendencies toward invisibility to the rest of the enterprise. Nor is the challenge to find effective communication methods unique to gender, points out O'Bryan. "[At] a financial company, the key was 'speaking the language of the business.' This is the current buzz phrase in our industry, but it worked long before it became popular to say."

And that provides a major advantage to women (and men) trying to move ahead personally. While it may be—or at least feel—rude to toot one's own horn, publicizing the accomplishments of your department supports your team and helps the business learn what you're doing for the enterprise. One not-so-subtle result is that the Powers That Be notice who's leading such successful teams and give its manager (that would be you) more opportunities. Think of it this way: You gain visibility by giving it to others.

Powell-Meeks has made specific efforts in this regard and has created her own "branding." She regularly distributes products to communicate to her customers, such as an annual report to key stakeholders to show what the IT department accomplished—with tangible milestones, not just pie-in-the-sky stuff—and to summarize and remind people about the benefits IT can provide. "IT can be underground," she says, "like a utility or telephone."

The reports may need to be distributed more often, depending on your job. O'Bryan's department provides quarterly IT financial reports for the CFOs of each office worldwide, as well as quarterly peer comparison spending reports, an annual IT report and quarterly newsletters to promote the benefit of IT to the business.

These summaries promote the work, Powell-Meeks says. "Not me as a person, but the team." Yet savvy women know this is also a self-promotion and leadership opportunity. Says O'Bryan, "I have an opening statement in both [publications] that includes my picture. As our company grows, not everyone may know who I am—and I think it is important that they do."

"Nothing speaks louder than results, so you want to show that you can make a difference very early on and create the media to make sure many people are aware of this," says Mojgan LeFebvre, CIO of bioMerieux. "Communication is key and it should never come across as bragging." However, good communication goes a long way in establishing your brand. "Don't be shy about communicating widely on results you have achieved and accomplishments," says LeFebvre. Communicate as eloquently and as widely as possible on the achieved results, she urges, and continue to do this on a consistent and iterative basis.

Relationship building works downward as well as upward. While it's important to connect with people who can directly influence your career (a.k.a. promoting you) and who can help you—in marketer's terms, "build your brand"—some women have gained the most by taking care of the people who work for them.

Hughes was once was a midlevel manager who had recently been appointed to head up a unit that was troubled and underperforming—and one that no one really wanted. She got to know each of the 32 people in the section. "I acquired a sense of their technical skill levels—as I'm sure their prior managers had done, as well. But I also got to know them as individuals," she says. Within three days, Hughes knew each team member by name, and throughout that project's tenure, spoke with them daily (if briefly). "There were lots of interesting stories in the group, and I tried to hear as many of them as possible. I guess it had a pretty positive impact, because the group's productivity increased measurably, and senior level management noticed! My work with this particular group provided me a springboard into upper management promotions."
Be Assertive—But Not Pushy

Some women, anxious to get credit for their work, tilt too far in the wrong direction. They can become so aggressive that people tune them out. In doing so, points out Powell-Meeks, they forget that "we" is more powerful than "I."

One woman of Powell-Meeks's acquaintance, for example, is a very talented person who wants to get ahead and probably is CIO material. The woman is very smart technically, but, Powell-Meeks says, "She's always promoting herself, and she puts down her management for not recognizing her: 'Everybody else values me and my management doesn't.'" The result, unfortunately, is that everyone just wants the woman to go away. "She's complaining about her own team, so she won't get promoted there," says Powell-Meeks, but bad-mouthing her management ensures that nobody else wants her, either. "She is an 'I' person, not a 'we' person—and three other people execute what she plans and organizes," Powell-Meeks adds

So, how do you strike a balance between assertiveness and a perception that's far less savory? It depends on where you work, cautions Powell-Meeks. "Learn the corporate culture. Let that guide how you express yourself."

Still, be yourself. Some women, says Powell-Meeks, need to be told, "'Don't minimize your role....' They have a lot to say after the meeting is over." Don't be afraid to express your opinion when it matters. Hughes adds, "I speak up in meetings, offering my ideas and opinions. I guess the secret there is to be straightforward and direct. A long time ago, I used to think it was important to 'follow the company line,' no matter what. I learned over time, however, that it's better—and I get attention—if I just relax and be who I am and say what I think."

Know your strengths, and use them to your advantage. "Through understanding my own strengths, weaknesses, and as important preferences, I have been able to optimize them in seeking opportunities," says Austin. "For example, I prefer roles combining management, customer-service focus, ongoing learning and problem-solving."

Don't limit yourself. "I've missed some opportunities in the past when I hesitated to reach beyond my comfort zone or waited for others to provide them for me," says Austin. "You have to believe in yourself, define what your goals are, then develop the relationships and opportunities for realizing them."

Source: CIO Executive Council

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How To Breaking the Glass Ceiling

“Steps to breaking the glass ceiling ...”

Hobnob With The Bigwigs

According to stereotype, women are better at developing relationships than men. But that's not true in the corporate world, says Carol Gallagher, author of Going to the Top.

Women tend to put their heads down and finish their work, assuming they'll get noticed, she said. "Guys are out playing golf and networking," she says. The men gain valuable connections.

They also learn about big-picture strategic issues, knowledge that helps them climb to the top.

Don't Nitpick

Women tend to obsess about details, says Gallagher. She's seen women in board meetings contradict a presenter when one fact was wrong in a document. That offends the presenter, she says, without accomplishing much. Men are more likely to let small errors fly in order to preserve their relationships.

Sell Yourself

Make sure your bosses know your ambitions and your capabilities. "Women tend to expect that meritocracy will take place," says Gill Rider, chief leadership officer at Accenture. But meritocracy won't work on its own. Women, like men, need to promote themselves and their achievements.

Ask For More Money

Women are more likely than men to take whatever salary is offered to them, because they don't want to rock the boat. A client of Gallagher's discovered that a junior male colleague was making $100,000 more than she was. She talked to her boss, who saw the error--and perhaps the threat of a lawsuit--and promptly upped her salary by $100,000.

Have Fun

Women burn out, Gallagher says. It's well-known that women do more housework than men. But women also tend to stay in the office, while men are more likely to be out networking and building connections. "Women are fried, exhausted, at the end of the day, the week, the year," Gallagher says. "The men are having more fun."

Take Risks

A client of Gallagher's wanted a new challenge. So she told her boss she was interested in moving to a more senior position. The boss came through with an offer, but it was in a different division that the client knew little about. She turned the offer down. "She didn't want to take the risk because she wasn't sure if she could be perfect at it," Gallagher says. Her husband convinced her to take the job.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What’s in store for global banking

“Banking around the world may now be passing through a major cyclical correction”

  • ... Global banking may be passing through a major cyclical correction at the end of 2007 ... but new McKinsey research suggests that in the longer term the industry’s revenues and profits—poised to continue growing faster than the rate of GDP growth—will double by 2016.

  • The historical part of the analysis, which examines global data from 2000 to 2006, reveals a rich mosaic of regional, national, and product diversity. There is little global convergence: different factors seem to drive different markets, which have surprisingly varied structures and uneven growth patterns.

  • In 2016, the market capitalization of banks will likely be $12 trillion higher than it is today. As consolidation in the sector accelerates, winners will be able to outmaneuver their competitors by developing a deep, bottom-up understanding of the idiosyncrasies of markets and by understanding the vital importance of being in the right place at the right time.

Introduction ...
With the midsummer credit crunch taking its toll, 2007 turned into a bleak year for the world’s big financial institutions, and 2008 may not be much better. As executives respond to the immediate pressures, however, they should maintain a clear perspective on the long-term outlook, which in our view is considerably brighter. Despite the current correction, we believe that during the next ten years the growth rate of the global banking industry will exceed that of GDP. Driven by powerful basic trends, such as demographics and the math of wealth accumulation, the industry will likely more than double its revenues and profits over the period.

Just as strikingly, McKinsey research also indicates that the industry’s patterns of growth will be diverse and uneven. Our comprehensive analysis of data since 2000 suggests that banking is one of the global economy’s few large industries that isn’t rapidly converging around a single structure or following the same market dynamics everywhere. Indeed, banking’s revenue performance has varied sharply and unexpectedly within regions, countries, subsectors, and product groups—and will continue to do so.

More than in other major industries, it appears, long-term success in banking hangs on being in the right place at the right time. Over the last ten years, for example, 88 percent of the growth in the revenues of Europe’s 20 largest banks was attributable to market momentum—in other words, competing in or entering territories and market segments that enriched everybody. Moreover, timing is critical. Buying into retail-banking markets across Asia in 2000 would have destroyed value over the next four years, as falling stock market multiples more than offset revenue growth. Buying into them in 2004, however, would have been richly rewarding.

In the text and exhibits that follow, we explore the global banking industry’s rich mosaic and highlight some of the core characteristics identified by our research. Our conclusions offer bank strategists and other senior executives a more detailed understanding of the size and composition of different banking markets, as well as insights into future profit trends.

# Big and getting bigger
# Diverse and likely to remain so
# Business mix
# Growth drivers
# Capital market multiples

Full Article: Mckinsey

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Women still face Glass Ceiling

“Barclays Bank appoints 5 women among 80 managing directors”

Barclays Capital, the investment banking division of Barclays, has been forced to defend its record as an equal opportunities employer after it emerged that it had promoted 80 managing directors, of which only five are women. BarCap, employs about 15,700 staff across offices in 26 countries, took out a full-page advertisement in the Financial Times 10 Jan, to announce the promotions, covering public relations executives as well as bankers in locations from London and New York to Madrid and Singapore.

The investment banking unit, led by Bob Diamond, specialises in the corporate credit markets and has been one of the fastest-growing City employers. It accounts for more than a third of Barclays’ annual profits, which last year topped £7 billion, and employs a little under half the group’s 33,000 staff.

Two of the new female BarCap MDs are in London. The other three are based in New York, Jakarta and Singapore.

Employment commentators said that the promotions underscored the perception of the City remaining a male-dominated environment. Nevertheless, they were loath to judge BarCap, pointing out that the decision about whether to pursue a banking career is also a lifestyle choice, tending to involve long hours and a gruelling travel schedule, albeit for considerable financial rewards. It emerged yesterday that, after meeting performance targets, Mr Diamond was on course to collect a £14.8 million payout covering the past three years. The payout means that Mr Diamond is likely to have received about £75 million in pay, cash bonuses and share awards since he joined the board in 2005.

Heather McGregor, a director of Taylor Bennett, the recruitment consultant, said: “Investment banks do struggle to find women for senior positions because very often women have other agendas and choose not to make their careers a priority.”

Of the 358 executive directors at FTSE 100 firms, only 14 — less than 4 per cent — are female, according to Manifest, the proxy shareholder voting specialist.

A spokeswoman for The Equalities and Human Rights Commission said that it was disappointed but not surprised by the lack of female appointees at BarCap: “It’s not a simple question of discrimination — it’s also about working practices.”

Siobhan Loftus, a media relations executive at Barclays Capital and one of the new managing directors, defended the promotions, which she said were based entirely on merit. “We are a meritocracy. In our diversity policy we would hope to promote irrespective of any gender bias,” she said.

“We would always look for the best person for the job. We want to provide an environment where people feel comfortable irrespective of their background, gender, sexuality or race.”

Food for Thought:

Economist "Women in Business" 2005 ...

It's 20 years since the term “glass ceiling” was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe the apparent barriers that prevent women from reaching the top of the corporate hierarchy; and it is ten years since the American government's specially appointed Glass Ceiling Commission published its recommendations. In 1995 the commission said that the barrier was continuing “to deny untold numbers of qualified people the opportunity to compete for and hold executive level positions in the private sector.” It found that women had 45.7% of America's jobs and more than half of master's degrees being awarded. Yet 95% of senior managers were men, and female managers' earnings were on average a mere 68% of their male counterparts'.

Ten years on, women account for 46.5% of America's workforce and for less than 8% of its top managers, although at big Fortune 500 companies the figure is a bit higher. Female managers' earnings now average 72% of their male colleagues'. Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm that monitors departing chief executives in America, found that 0.7% of them were women in 1998, and 0.7% of them were women in 2004. In between, the figure fluctuated. But the firm says that one thing is clear: the number is “very low and not getting higher”.

Source: Times Online

In August 2006 Forbes reported that 70% of women and 57% of men believe an invisible barrier -- a glass ceiling -- prevents women from getting ahead in business, according to a study of 1,200 executives in eight countries, including the U.S., Australia, Austria and the Philippines were the findings of a study conducted by

Women aren't as worried about the pay gap as they were five years ago, says Carol Gallagher, president of the Executive Women's Alliance and author of Going To The Top: A Road Map for Success from America's Leading Women Executives. Gallagher, who is also an executive coach, says Gen Xers and Yers don't think any barriers prevent them from getting to the top.

And baby boomers are now looking toward retirement, not obsessing about pay. When Gallagher published her book in 2000, there was a huge demand for information about the gender gap. At the time, almost all her executive coaching clients were women seeking the secrets of corporate success. Now 70% of her clients are men. "There [isn't] a need for as much of the women's group stuff," Gallagher says.

To some extent, there's a disconnect between American women and their counterparts abroad. In a study of American executives by Catalyst, a research and advocacy firm, women were just as likely as men to say they aspired to senior management positions. "Women want the responsibilities and rewards that come with top positions," says Sheila Wellington, a professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, who was president of Catalyst when the survey was conducted.

But a global study, also conducted by Catalyst, found that men worldwide desire the top jobs more often than women.

Even in the U.S., some experts say the glass ceiling doesn't affect job satisfaction. Women make sacrifices at work in exchange for greater happiness in their lives as a whole, says Warren Farrell, author of Why Men Earn More.

His book offers 25 reasons for the pay gap: Women work fewer hours, for example, and they don't stay at jobs as long as men do. Whether it's nature or socialization driving their decisions, women tend to choose lives that allow them to spend more time with their families, Farrell contends.

Even ambitious women don't measure success in high salaries and fancy job titles. Relationships with colleagues and giving back to the community are more important to women than salary, according to "The Hidden Brain Drain: Off-Ramps and On-Ramps in Women's Careers," a study by the Center for Work-Life Policy, which was published in the Harvard Business Review last year.

"They want to feel satisfied and good about their work, but also want to feel satisfied about other things in their life," says Melinda Wolfe, head of global leadership and diversity at Goldman Sachs Group (nyse: GS - news - people ).

Even if most women don't want to break the glass ceiling, Wolfe says, the few that do shouldn't be ignored. Sometimes their ambitions have been tempered by a corporate culture that stifles their success. Sometimes they choose circuitous career paths, taking some time to care for children, prepare for a career change or work in the nonprofit sector.

There's another reason why the pay gap has barely budged in the last five years: Women don't ask for more money. "They don't think they deserve it," says Lois Frankel, president of Corporate Coaching International and author of Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office. She adds, "We don't have the [negotiating] skills. We see it as something smarmy."

But Susan Solovic, CEO of SBTV, a Web site that creates video programming aimed at small-business owners, offers another reason why women aren't complaining about the pay gap: They've decided to work for themselves. The number of women-owned firms grew 17% between 1997 and 2004, according to the Center for Women's Business Research, while the total number of firms rose only 9%. Says Solovic: "There is really no glass ceiling when it comes to owning your own business."

Source: Forbes

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Friday, January 11, 2008

President in Love breaks a long tradition of French leaders

“French President Nicolas Sarkozy's glamorous love life does not appear to be boosting his approval ratings among voters frustrated by the lagging economy in France”

Critics have accused Sarkozy of publicizing his relationship with Bruni to divert attention from declining poll figures.

The maths was giddying - less than a year in office, barely three months after his divorce, Sarkozy was presenting his second first lady and his third wife. When Sarkozy lovingly uttered the word Carla from his platform in front of the French and European flags, he deliberately brought decades of French presidential precedent crashing around his shoulders.

Lovestruck Sarkozy Fends Off Critics

President Nicolas Sarkozy hinted Tuesday he may soon marry former model Carla Bruni, but polls suggest he's heading toward divorce with some of the voters who put him in power.
Many are irritated by Sarkozy's flaunting of his whirlwind affair with someone whose cast of past partners includes Mick Jagger and Donald Trump. And they question Sarkozy's use of a billionaire friend's private jet for the couple's vacation.

He's being called "President Bling Bling," and it's not a compliment among the taste-conscious French. Meanwhile, there's the sickly French economy to worry about.

Sarkozy appears to be losing his luster as he heads into what promises to be a tough year. On Tuesday, in his first full-fledged news conference since his election in May, Sarkozy deflected criticism of his lifestyle, his courting of hard-line world leaders, and his reforms to France's labor laws, universities and health care.

He basked, though, in confirming his relationship with Bruni.

The 40-year-old Italian-born former model, now a singer, first appeared publicly at the 52-year-old Sarkozy's side at Disneyland Paris last month. Then she joined him on vacation in Egypt and Jordan, where they were photographed arm-in-arm and often smiling.

"You've understood: It is serious," Sarkozy said. He suggested wedding plans are in the works, but stopped short of confirming reports of an early February ceremony.

"There is a strong chance that you will learn about it after it's already done," he said, with a grin.

Asked if they had already tied the knot, he raised his ring-less left hand, to a laughing audience including his full Cabinet and hundreds of reporters.

Sarkozy defended his decision to take the relationship public, saying he wanted to break with a long tradition of French leaders keeping their love lives hidden, with the media's tacit accord. He alluded to the late Francois Mitterrand, who kept the existence of a mistress and illegitimate daughter a secret for most of his 1981-95 presidency.

If Sarkozy-Bruni wedding bells chime, it would mark the first time a French president marries in office. Sarkozy became the first sitting French president to divorce when he split in October from his second wife Cecilia — like Bruni, a tall, dark-haired ex-model.

"Normally the Elysee (presidential palace) is a boring place where nothing ever happens, where there are men who wear ties, with wives they've had for 40 years and mistresses that they hide. This is a 'coup d'eclat' as has never before happened in France," said Loic Sellin, editor of popular magazine Voici.

He said the magazine's staff was "blown away" by Sarkozy's openness. "We're saying thank you," he said.

Not everyone is thrilled. More traditional voters and political commentators question whether Bruni — with her rich romantic history — is the appropriate spouse for a French president.

Some, especially traditional conservatives and working class voters who supported Sarkozy, have issues "with the way the president behaves," said Dominique Moisi of the French Institute of International Relations. It "is not what you'd expect from the president of France."

"The problem is the president mixes his private and his public life," Moisi said. "If it becomes a permanent fixture it becomes embarrassing."

Critics accuse Sarkozy of publicizing his relationship with Bruni — which has been front-page news in France for weeks — to detract attention from declining poll figures and economic woes.

Sarkozy's approval rating stands around 48 percent — a drop of seven points in a month, and a sharp departure from a high of 65 percent in July, according to a new poll from the CSA agency. The telephone poll surveyed 1,010 people aged 18 and older on Jan. 2-3. No margin of error was given.

"Sarkozy had a very long political honeymoon, and it is finally ending," said Pascal Perrineau, head of the Cevipof think tank.

Sarkozy defended his decision to invite Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to Paris, and his swift congratulations to Russian President Vladimir Putin after parliamentary elections heavily tilted in the ruling party's favor.

Sarkozy offered few solutions for French households feeling the pinch of stagnant salaries and economic growth that is expected to drop below 2 percent for 2007.

Socialist lawmaker Jean-Pierre Bel said Sarkozy's speech was "totally disconnected from the wishes of the French for 2008: more purchasing power."

Sarkozy made a few gestures to French workers, pledging state funds to protect strategic companies from foreign takeovers and pushing for all workers — not just executives — to have access to stock options.

Sarkozy declared that current measures of gross domestic product don't take into account the quality of life in France. To counter that, he announced he has recruited Nobel economists Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen to advise on a new method of measuring growth performance.

Sarkozy took some not-so-veiled digs at his predecessors and a sometimes mocking tone toward journalists.

In response to a query about his use of a jet belonging to French magnate Vincent Bollore for his vacation, Sarkozy snapped, "What do you prefer? That I travel on taxpayer money?"

Guardian 9 Jan Comments: As an expat living here for over thirty years, I watch the man with amazement. Every time that something goes wrong, there he is, like the Scarlet Pimpernel, throwing out quotable quotes, usually meaningless like the latest effort about "civilization", to take peoples' minds off the actual bone of contention. When the people react adversely to his suggestions, he digs his heels in and gets even more stubborn. He appears to be incapable of acknowledging an error, and leaves that to his largely powerless minions, who appear to be in the government solely to take the blame when it goes pear-shaped. There is a lot of laughter and sneering from people who can afford to laugh, but it is no fun for the ever increasing group of poorer people.
I think it is significant that since his election, I have only met one person who will admit to having voted for him, and one of those (female partner of a bombastic "trou de cul"), probably got bullied into it. It even appears that it is becoming more difficult to get people to take his side on excellent debate programmes like 'C'est dans l'Air" on ARTE.

Source: AP

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