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Simon Longbottom

  • Programme: Executing Strategy for Results
  • Nationality: British
  • Job Post-programme: Chief Executive Officer, Stonegate Pub Company Limited

Education and career

Simon began his career as a graduate trainee at the brewing hotel and pub operator Bass and progressed in an operational capacity within the pub retail industry. As Operations Director at Bass Taverns, he was instrumental in growing the successful pub retail chain Ember Inns. After attending London Business School’s Accelerated Development Programme in 2003, Simon moved into the betting and gaming industry, before joining Greene King as Managing Director of Pub Partners in 2010. He completed the Executing Strategy for Results (ESR) programme in November 2011.

A new approach

As part of my role at Greene King, I’m involved in the annual strategy, operations and budgeting planning process. At times, I have found myself looking at our strategy from a one dimensional operational view point. I was looking for a programme that would help me approach the planning process in a different way – one that incorporated strategy, leadership and transformation.

Unlike most other strategy programmes, ESR focuses on the implementation and execution of strategy, rather than planning and formulation. The programme presented an opportunity to build upon my strategic skills and give me the breadth of knowledge I needed at MD level.

Theory into practice

The theoretical models presented throughout the programme really helped me to make sense of the planning process. The real value in strategy execution is clear communication and ownership – communicating critical information to the relevant departments and teams. In the past, a lack of understanding and accountability in our organisation resulted in poor decision making. Since completing the programme, I have spent more time meeting with other department heads and my team to openly discuss our operating plan, encouraging involvement, working through issues and channelling the teams’ energy into thinking through the implications of the strategy. I will be monitoring progress through each strategic phase by holding regular review meetings and conducting a staff survey.

There is a lot of work still to do to ensure that the strategy is really brought to life, but through improved communications and a clearer understanding of accountability across the organisation, this has been one of the best strategic planning processes I have ever run. I am now more confident that, together as an organisation, we are more focused on making the strategy a reality.

Exceptional teaching

The programme leader, Don Sull, was an exceptional teacher and a major factor in my decision to apply to the programme. His background in innovation and entrepreneurship, coupled with his success in academia and business, means that he is able to bring the latest strategic thinking to life in the classroom. He had some really relevant business cases. Being able to unpick them and bring to life the tools and thinking explored throughout the programme was a real highlight.