Our group CEO Robert Brown discusses the importance of making agile decisions to react rapidly to regional and global events.
As we move into a new year, sadly the world remains a volatile place. The issues facing global companies include geopolitical tensions, high inflation, supply chain challenges, talent shortages and climate change, to name just a few. In this fast-changing environment, it’s essential that businesses like us, Charles Taylor are equipped to make decisions quickly.
By removing complexity and unnecessary friction, we make ourselves more agile in our decision-making. The real benefit, though, of working in this way is that it makes the whole experience of dealing with us better for our clients and for the people we help to get back on their feet when things go wrong.
It’s something I am sure all companies think about, at a global, regional and local level; it’s in the nature of being a global business that we collectively take responsibility for our regional and local growth, including the decisions made. In a UK survey of board executives, The State of Decision-Making, interestingly (and surprisingly for me), 63% of respondents said their decisions are implemented globally. When it comes to the other 37%, there is a need to put guardrails around people’s decision-making, but also to create as much empowerment as possible by making it clear where we can we do without those guardrails. Ultimately, it’s about getting the right balance between being a global company and a local one.
I was thinking about this a lot at the end of 2023, when I made two separate trips to visit our teams in Asia-Pacific. On the first one I visited Hong Kong and Malaysia and on the second I flew out to Australia, first to our Brisbane office and then to Sydney. From there I went to see the team in Singapore and visited our new office there. Both were great trips and from each I came back inspired by the people I met, many of them for the first time.
These trips resonated with me for another reason too, because in a personal way I was following in my father’s footsteps. Back in the 1950s, his company posted him to Hong Kong. Even though he worked for a large organisation, in practice, much of the time it operated like a network of small companies, because most of the decisions were being taken locally by the teams in each territory.
That was partly driven by necessity, in an age when a letter from London to Hong Kong could take weeks to arrive. It’s very different today, when everyone can communicate with everyone else instantly – but to my mind, there is still a lot to like about that way of doing things. We all know that if there are only a few of you, it’s easy to make quick decisions and get things done. But when we have thousands of colleagues around the globe, we need to make sure we still have that same mindset where people are empowered to take the initiative and make decisions locally that benefit our clients and their customers. I want Charles Taylor to be run as a big company but with a little company mindset.
So as we move forward in 2024, one of my big priorities is to ensure that key people in Charles Taylor around the world are empowered to make agile decisions that will help us to react rapidly to events and stay ahead of the curve – and, most importantly, to be able to look after our clients the best we can.
Group Chief Executive Officer