At iOpener, our global community includes mastery-level facilitators and coaches across Europe, MENA, Asia, the USA and Mexico, backed by a brilliant team of project managers and led by a team of highly experienced business leaders.
Here we find out more about one of our business leaders Lorraine, who turned from client to consultant when she joined iOpener in 2010.
When did you first become involved with iOpener?
I first became aware of iOpener in 2004 when I was Associate Director for Skills Development in the Career Services Team at London Business School. We were looking for a provider of skills training. iOpener was one of the companies that responded to our request. I was impressed by the intelligent questions that Jess from iOpener asked during the process. I was further impressed when on the proposal day they managed to deliver their pitch without technology after their laptop failed. We were so inspired by their pitch and their overall approach that we awarded them the work.
Six years later, in 2010, I decided to join iOpener as a consultant (and I am now a Partner). I had always enjoyed working with the people at iOpener and felt a strong connection with the ethos of the business, so it was a natural fit.
Do you specialize in any particular aspect of leadership development?
I specialize in core communications skills – from presentations training to workshops on executive presence, personal impact, giving and receiving feedback, influencing and persuading. Despite the advance of technology and the huge changes in the way we work, communications skills are still as important as they have ever been – if not more. I work with commercial clients as well as business schools and travel extensively across the world to deliver our leadership programs.
What do you think makes iOpener different from other leadership consultancies?
One thing that stands out about iOpener is that we can deliver at scale. This is vital for major international organizations – as well as global Business Schools. As an example, I was part of a team of ten facilitators last week delivering at London Business School. Though of course, each consultant has a personal approach, as a team we deliver consistent, quality workshops at scale.
I also think we are very good at making sure we genuinely understand who our client is and what their needs are. We then tailor our approach and content to ensure that we deliver on their objectives and leave a lasting impression on their people.
What is your favorite part of your role?
Though flying long-haul can be physically demanding, I do enjoy traveling as a group with other iOpener consultants. It’s a great opportunity to get to know people better. Our consultants are hugely experienced and come from different backgrounds. Yet I find it easy to connect. We all have the same sense of shared purpose about making a difference in people’s lives.
What is the best iOpener project you have ever worked on?
I have been lucky to work on lots of fantastic projects in amazing locations around the world. One week I can be in Dubai. The next, in a stunning chateau in Switzerland, or a factory in the middle of nowhere in Italy. The diversity is incredible.
Yet throughout all those cultural and geographical changes, it’s the people that make a difference. Some workshops really make you feel that you have added value. Particularly when working with a small group of people on presentation skills, you can really see a massive improvement in a short space of time. That’s what motivates us as consultants – being able to deliver real change.
What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
Digital transformation is a key issue. I think people are afraid and don’t understand how it is changing the way we work. More and more of what leaders do is being done virtually, remotely, and cross-culturally. This adds new challenges for communications, yet the basics still apply.
I see storytelling becoming a vital skill for leaders. Nobody remembers the numbers – but they will remember a story, particularly with a personal aspect. We work with leaders across the world to help them think about what their purpose is, craft stories and come up with narratives that help them to engage and inspire others.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I do remember when I first went into training I was told: “If you can’t make it interesting, make it colorful”. Of course, it was a bit of a joke but does have some substance. Color helps to engage an audience and provoke a more emotional response. I was also advised to never take my jacket off as otherwise I wouldn’t be taken seriously. That doesn’t apply today, but I still think how you present yourself is important. It can make a real difference to your personal impact.
Lorraine Vaun-Davis is a Partner at iOpener and an exceptional and tenacious learning and leadership development expert. She holds an impressive track record in creating, strategizing and implementing dynamic development programs and workshops that achieve exceptional results.