Alumni Profile - Daniel Beecham

Daniel Beecham

Name: Daniel Beecham

Current Position, Organisation: Chief Information Officer at Wm Morrisons Supermarkets plc

Best business book/motivational book you have read in the last 12 months: One is not possible, and some are a little old, but: 'Outliers', 'Tipping Point', and 'Blink' from Malcolm Gladwell. 'John Curtin - A Biography' by Lloyd Ross is great for resilience, strategy, negotiation and vision. Besides that there are some great case studies, insights and learning's.

Daily website 'favourites': All of my email accounts. Keeping in touch is important!

Motto to live/work by: No regrets.

Career overview

Currently, I am the Chief Information Officer at Wm Morrisons Supermarkets plc. Prior to this (1995-2013) I worked at Woolworths Limited in various technology based roles including: Systems Development Manager, Service Delivery Manager, and Chief Information Officer. I had a focus on transformational programs across various divisions including BIG W, Supermarkets and Corporate.

Between 1992-1995 I worked at Macquarie Bank in various technology based roles with a focus on service and efficiency (outsourcing). Prior to this, I worked at Citibank for five years in various technology based roles.

Why did you decide to do the GEMBA?

There were four reasons as to why I decided to do the GEMBA. Firstly, I was hungry to learn and retool myself after operating for many years in the retail technology domain. Secondly, I was keen to use the global and case study elements of the program to further develop myself as a leader. Thirdly, the structure of the program, with its two-week residential modules, afforded me the flexibility to fit the study in around other commitments. Finally, the program recognised the skills I had developed over my time in the workforce and used online learning to align cohort knowledge on core subjects.

What was the most fulfilling part of the GEMBA program?

There were a couple of different aspects of fulfilment here. Firstly, the work we did with the organisations associated with the program. We all did the best we could and hopefully added some value to those organisations, be they not-for-profits, start-ups or businesses trying to crack a new market. They all very graciously presented us with amazing opportunities to learn about different businesses in different markets facing difficult challenges. Then there is the cohort and the academic staff. Taken in the right spirit the cohort is a terrific source of learning, support, good humour and healthy challenges. Giving, receiving and being a part of the group was very fulfilling.

How did the GEMBA change you - both professionally and personally?

Personally, the Executive MBA strengthened my most important relationships and helped me to be more structured about where I wanted to go in a career sense. Professionally, it increased my sense of curiosity, equipped me with new business knowledge and skills and finally, it challenged me to look at problems from more diverse perspectives. Hopefully all of this comes together as a better leadership proposition.

Tell us about your GEMBA experience

Overall very challenging and rewarding. The program does a great job of being experiential and focuses on real-life issues and challenges. As such it's a rich and valuable time for learning and reflection. Some of the readings and academics challenged my thinking about business. The program really got me thinking about businesses; why some have such amazing long-term success, why for others success can be such an organisational curse, why some leadership can deliver value from organisations where others have failed. I definitely didn't get all the answers but the experience renewed my curiosity and gave me the confidence to try a different approach to the challenges that lie ahead.

How did you achieve work/study/life balance whilst undertaking the GEMBA?

To be honest, I'm not sure I really did get the balance right. My wife, although very patient and supportive, was sorely tested! Looking back, and this is a massive take away, I believe the GEMBA really helped me do my work and live my life in a more focused manner. So, what are the critical factors? When is there enough information to make a decision? How do we work more effectively as a team to gain an outcome that is greater than the sum of the parts? Those sorts of parameters became routine. Following completion, I took a little too long to stop treating parts of my family life as a deliverable! Thankfully for all concerned I got through that phase.

Since completing the GEMBA what are you most looking forward to in your career?

My new job as CIO with WM Morrisons PLC in the UK. From a retail perspective the UK is one of the most competitive markets going around, 4-6 great retailers operating in a tight geography with a varied and discerning customer base. Then there is the overlay of the disruptive opportunity of omni-channel. Being part of the team that succeeds and delivers value in that market will be a wonderful growth opportunity.

Greatest challenge of your career to date?

Undoubtedly standing in front of a team of over one hundred long-term employees and telling them we're going to market for the work they do. It was very challenging but the right thing from a business and leadership perspective. From the leadership angle, having the courage to deliver the message in person, field the questions and tell team members that as an organisation we cared and had reflected very deeply on the decision. From the business angle it allowed us to use the market to free up resources to deliver greater value. This is the difficult rub of business, resources are scarce and there have to be tradeoffs or businesses fail. That renewal and refocus is challenging but necessary.