A J Sheppard

Resources and Support for Transforming Business Operations

Andy grew up near the Surrey Hills in the south east of the UK. His outlook remains grounded on the shop floors of local industrial units where he worked as a teenager during weekends and holidays. He gained sponsorship with Shell to study engineering at Cambridge University and worked for a pre-university year and on vacation placements at Shell oil refineries and head offices. He gained a degree in Manufacturing Engineering, on a course designed to bridge the gap in industry between engineers and managers. He earned a distinction in a master’s degree in the same discipline and received a New Graduate Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering. It was also during his university years that Andy encountered a significant personal transformation that would later inspire his book Reflections from the Incredible Transformation.

Andy joined Crown Cork as a production development engineer, where he learnt more about navigating change in and across factories. He then joined the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, where he witnessed his first incredible transformation under the leadership of a hired-in trainer. His direction was set and he began to work out similar transformations in diverse industries across Europe, Asia and in the USA. For three of these years he was based in Cleveland, Ohio and in Irvine, California.

When trying to train consultants beyond those assigned to his teams, Andy saw that he faced an uphill struggle. It is one thing to agree with strategic intent and transformation advice in a training room: it is quite another to practise everything hands-on and drive the right changes sensitively and confidently in an industrial site – without retreating behind a computer screen. To overcome this challenge, Andy began dreaming of a lifelike, change-management novel. Its aim would be to show people what successful transformation can look like and to model how to go about achieving this in practice. Just as importantly, it would have to show some of the common pitfalls to avoid: including some of the limitations that can be set through professional experience, which Andy had only overcome by seeing his own trainer in action.

Andy left McKinsey to develop The Incredible Transformation of Gregory Todd: A Novel about Leadership and Managing Change. While he was still honing this, he began to advise an international manufacturing firm which a former colleague was seeking to transform. Since then Andy has shared his time between developing written resources and providing independent guidance for successful transformations around the world. He is based in Worcester, in the UK.