Embracing digital transformation
"When you’re planning a long-term strategy, managers need to dedicate enough time on their
agenda to think about today, tomorrow - and the day after tomorrow. Our traditional education
system is not well suited to this ever-changing environment, so today’s managers need to be willing
to re-learn and to adopt an open mindset.
Currently, I’m a strategy manager at The De Beers Group. My company specialises in diamond
exploration, but it’s also on a journey to embrace digital transformation. This year I decided it was
time to refresh my skills - a little bit like a personal software upgrade – I wanted to stay on top of
these disruptive changes in order that I would be able to provide meaningful strategic support at
I already had first-hand experience of LBS – I graduated from the full-time MBA programme in
2014. But the world is moving at breakneck speed, and four years is a long time in the process of
innovation. I’d reached a point in my career where I needed to learn about new digital trends,
explore new frameworks and tools, understand what our competitors were focusing on, and find
new ways of working.
Exploiting Disruption in a Digital World was the ideal programme to address these issues. But when
you only have five days to take in such a large amount of information, it’s essential to learn from,
and engage with, strong communicators. For me, three faculty stood out - Costas Markides, Peter
Hinssen and Michael Jacobides. Costas was amazing in his ability to simplify and deliver some very
complex topics; Peter is fantastically entertaining but also has a great depth of digital
business experience to offer.
I found Professor Michael Jacobides’ ideas on ecosystem technologies extremely forward thinking
- a must for any strategy department. Exploring how partnerships and interactions between
different companies with complementary capabilities have created digital networks
and the appearance of ‘category kings’ - companies like Amazon and Alibaba who feed on the data
produced by these networks – was fascinating. The strategic implication, for any company, is to
decide what role it wants to occupy within its category.
My cohort was very diverse – more so than you’d expect on an executive programme - and skewed
towards senior management. Most participants were either business owners or C-suite executives,
and there was a useful mix of large and small companies. Working in a large company myself, I found
it useful to share digital challenges with colleagues from other large companies, identifying
similarities and learning how we are all embracing digital transformation in different ways. I also
engaged with very senior representatives of smaller companies – by virtue of their size, they’re often
much more agile in adopting digital practices.
We know the future is all digital, and that companies and individuals need to stay alert to new
technologies, and become more proactively reactive to change. But when you sit behind your desk,
the digital revolution is a remote concept forecast to occur in the future. This programme was a real
eye opener for me. The digital revolution is out there, data is the new oil and there is a burning
platform changing the way we operate to ensure we maintain a competitive edge in the
future. Since I completed the Exploiting Disruption in a Digital World programme, digital technology
has become the backbone of my output at work.
Despite this, I’ve realised that like almost everybody else, I’m still not ‘digital enough’. So my
programme colleagues and I have created a WhatsApp group designed to keep us connected and
help us share knowledge of digital progress. I’ve also enjoyed Costas Markides’ digital follow-up on
‘design thinking’ and I hope to get more of these going into the future. Moving forward, it’s critical
that I continue my efforts to keep up to date with the digital revolution."