A J Sheppard

Resources and Support for Transforming Business Operations

Andy began his working life on the shop floors of industrial facilities and warehouses. This helped to ground him with an appreciation of how people can think and feel while working deep within an organisation.

After gaining sponsorship from Shell International, he began the hard yards of learning to lead change in various oil refineries and head offices. He gained a bachelor’s and a master’s degree (with distinction) in Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Cambridge, and also won a New Graduate Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

On graduation, Andy continued to learn about navigating change in and across factories as an engineer and manager in Crown Cork. He then joined the consulting firm McKinsey & Company to learn from an expert who was establishing their Production System Design Centre. Its director had been invited to do so because of his rare combination of expertise in discerning what to change (applying the Toyota Production System to bespoke operations) and knowing how to change (having applied this in Toyota to rapidly transform suppliers that had been run according to very different management beliefs and values). Andy would never have believed that so much radical, positive change could be achieved so quickly until he was helped to facilitate it. In the twenty years that have followed, Andy’s focus has been on helping others to benefit in similar ways: at the intersection of operations management and leading change.

Within McKinsey, Andy sought out clients who were already eager to achieve similar, deep improvements to their end-to-end operations. He therefore developed his own practical expertise while working out transformations in diverse industries in Europe, Asia and across the USA – where Andy lived for several years. Through this time he also found himself searching for a better to teach others how much can be achieved in practice. A vision developed for a change-leadership novel, which could show others what it looks like to lead others through a healthy course of ‘what and how’ to change in a lifelike scenario, full of competing priorities, personalities and problems. It also needed to show some of the common pitfalls to avoid, including those caused by popular management thinking and practices.

Andy left McKinsey to develop The Incredible Transformation of Gregory Todd: A Novel about Leadership and Managing Change. While doing so, he was asked to serve as an independent advisor for an international metals manufacturing business which was embarking on a major transformation. Since then Andy has shared his time between developing written resources and serving clients at the intersection of operations management and leading change. He is based in Worcester, in the UK.

While at university, much of Andy’s early perspective on life was transformed by an unexpected, spiritual encounter. One of the ways he has learned to make sense of this has been through the connections he enjoys seeing between his life of faith and the transformations he works out in industry. For others who may be interested in bridging the worlds of faith and work, these connections are presented through his short book, Reflections from the Incredible Transformation.