Suzanne Shepherd
(Group Executive Human Resources)

“Continuous improvement is very important to MMSG and we seek to lead in all areas of our industry while building a strong, reliable business that delivers genuine savings and an unequalled service offering for a growing customer base. We recognise that our success is underpinned by our people and the Executive Leadership at MMSG provided their support with 100% commitment for the development and implementation of the Leadership Effectiveness and Advancement Program (LEAP) for senior leaders in the organisation.

In order to create LEAP, I sought to collaborate with others who would help bring LEAP to life. I was introduced to Bernard Desmidt of Exceld and I was immediately struck by his authenticity and that he genuinely listens. At that first meeting he asked deep questions to understand our organisation, what we were seeking to create and why that was important to us. He understood the strategic concept: LEAP is a senior leadership program that looks at leading through deeper self-knowledge; how this informs how you lead; its impact on the people you lead; and the effect this has on others.

Our first program was designed for the direct reports of the group executive teams. There were 19 leaders across different brands in our company from all around Australia. The opening night was a fire-side chat with the chairman of MMSG followed by a dinner with our CEO, COO and our executive program sponsor, Sean Dempsey. It was clear to everyone that our Executive leadership was completely committed and together with Bernard’s contribution, this was critical to the success of the program.

In addition to co-designing the LEAP Program, Bernard designed and delivered LEAP’s Leadership modules. This was over 3 months with 3 full one-day sessions and his work was integral to LEAP’s success. Bernard’s strengths are extensive and extraordinary. The depth and layering of his questioning approach to reveal the essence and core of whatever the topic or question was challenging. Bernard has the ability and skill to probe at a very deep level to deftly discover the answers and pave the way for self-discovery. Bernard took this group on the challenging journey from being reactive to being reflective and gave them challenging activities to engage with between sessions. This maximised the effect and helped embed the learning which remains evident today.

One of Bernard’s strengths is enabling others to become “comfortable with being uncomfortable” and to acknowledge their vulnerability as a result. Through building trust and credibility, he enables his participants to discover new ways to look at things and to see problems as opportunities. This included helping people see beyond their own perspectives and through the eyes and experiences of others. Bernard clearly illustrated that while people may differ greatly, by remaining open to the idea of difference being advantageous, the outcome can be far richer and more widely beneficial.

Key results witnessed include a newly opened-up, authentic dialogue with measurably improved communication. There is clearly improved leadership capability within teams and across functions. I absolutely recommend Bernard Desmidt as a leadership facilitator, coach and mentor. He will take you on an extraordinary journey and you and your organisation will be all the richer for it.”

Suzanne Shepherd
Group Executive Human Resources
The McMillan Shakespeare Group