Accuteque case study

John F Kennedy once famously said, ‘Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.’ Fifty years later, this principle continues to guide experts in change and transition, such as Caroline Patton.

Caroline founded accuteque, a boutique consulting firm, in the late 1990s. Today, it’s an award-winning company specialising in project management, business analysis and testing services for clients including KPMG, BP (Australia), Experian, IAG, CGU and the Office of Community Sector.

Recognising service excellence and innovation, CGU awarded two accuteque employees CGU Transformation and Change Leadership Awards in 2012. accuteque’s clients have also nominated the business for this year’s Telstra Australian Business Awards.

But even as an expert, Caroline says, ‘You can’t assume you know it all. You’re vulnerable to big mistakes, especially during times of change.’

 

"The program was a critical part of my development at a transitional time. It has given us a depth of maturity, whenever we’re thinking about something we’re thinking about what it means for today, for tomorrow and for our long-term plans for the business.” 

Caroline Patton, Founder | Partner | Principal 
Accuteque

The transition

In 2012, Caroline began accuteque’s transition from a small family-run operation to a more sustainable medium-sized structure. In September 2012, she enrolled in Leading for Strategic Success, a five-day development program on leadership skills and strategic thinking.

‘The program through MBS-Mt Eliza Executive Education was a critical part of my development at a transitional time,’ Caroline says. Since undertaking the program, Caroline has introduced numerous changes, including introducing an external CEO and overhauling accuteque’s long-term strategic goals.

‘It’s important to take time out and assess your options,’ Caroline says. ‘The program taught me to stop, think, listen and reflect – essentially: slow down to speed up. Through a school like MBS-Mt Eliza, you have a safe environment to explore and learn how to be the best leader you can be.’

Stop, think, listen & reflect

As an entrepreneur, Caroline has relied on instinct for a long time. ‘I’m used to making decisions based on my gut,’ she says. ‘It’s easy to react quickly – but not always strategically.’

Forming clear organisational goals allowed Caroline and her team to remain focused during the transition.

‘We’ve got three main strategies,’ she says. ‘The first is sustainability – “future proofing” accuteque. The second is about innovation – giving our team the opportunity to learn and explore, developing their technical and personal skills. And the third is about our clients – delivering excellence across our services and strategically choosing the right clients to align with our company values.

‘As an organisation, a strong strategy is critical in meeting both our short-term and long-term goals.’

Understand your team, understand yourself

Managing teams as large as 100, obtaining open and honest feedback at the top is difficult. ‘Everyone sees you as the boss,’ says Caroline.

As preparation for the program, Caroline’s direct reports delivered anonymous feedback to help in her development. Supported by program facilitators, Caroline used the feedback to adapt her approach and maximise team outcomes as a leader and a manager.

‘The program gave me a reflection of myself as a leader, a manager and a boss,’ she says. ‘It’s important to me that my team see I have time to think about them and be there for them.‘I developed tools and techniques, such as mindfulness, to champion our transition and become a stronger leader. It’s been pivotal for the success of accuteque.’

The future: educate your team

Looking to the future, accuteque’s new CEO has introduced leadership and learning development for employees through MBS-Mt Eliza, focused on  ensuring employees understand strategy and embrace futures-thinking in the business.

‘Whenever we’re thinking about something, we focus on what does it mean today? What does it mean for tomorrow? And what does it mean for our long-term plans for the business?’ Caroline says.

‘We have a very technically competent team and further full-time study isn’t the best option for everyone. But a short program through MBS-Mt Eliza is perfect. They can be out of the workplace for a week and return with specialised skills around a particular competency.’

By the end of 2014, Caroline expects accuteque’s executive team and emerging leaders to have undertaken an MBS-Mt Eliza open program in line with their development goals.