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 served to ground him with an understanding of how people can think and feel when working deep within an organisation and/or on its frontline.

He studied connected processes at the University of Cambridge, graduating with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree (with distinction) in Manufacturing Engineering. He received a New Graduate Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering. Andy also won sponsorship through his studies from Shell International, with whom he began the hard yards of learning to lead change in various oil refineries and head offices.

Andy then worked for Crown Cork in engineering and managerial roles, where he learned more about navigating change in and across factories. He then joined the consulting firm McKinsey & Company to learn from an expert who was about to establish McKinsey’s Production System Design Centre. This director had been hired-in because of his exceptional experience in Toyota (the company with a leading reputation in operations management), where he had specialised in leading radical change (helping Toyota’s suppliers to quickly transform, even though they 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. His direction was set.

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 practical expertise, working out similar 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 way to convince other clients and consultants how much could be achieved – and how to approach this in practice. A solution came into focus for a lifelike leadership novel. This could paint a complex, moving picture: showing leaders how to apply the various aspects of leading change and how to hold these in balance. It would also need to show the common change-management pitfalls to avoid, including limitations that are often created by popular management thinking and practices.

Andy left McKinsey to develop the novel, which became 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 metals manufacturing business which a former colleague was seeking to transform. Since then Andy has shared his time between developing written resources and serving clients around the world as an independent, practical advisor. He is based in Worcester, in the UK.

During his university years, Andy’s quest to make the most of life was shaped by an unexpected event. Since then, he has been struck by many parallels between the transformations he enjoys facilitating in industry and the broader, personal transformation that he continues to enjoy working out in his life as a whole. These reflections are the inspiration behind Andy’s short book, Reflections from the Incredible Transformation.