The Lead Principal Associate Series: Meet Gordon McMullan

Definia is a leading Transformation Consultancy dedicated to empowering organisations across industries to achieve sustainable growth, adapt to change, and optimise performance. This is why our advisory services are delivered through our ‘Lead Principal Associates’ who bring a wealth of experience being consultants, industry experts, analysts, and technical specialists.

With all our experts providing specialist skills , we wanted to shine a light on each individual and showcase just why they are the people to help you with your transformations.

In the next of our Q&A series, Definia’s Brand Manager, Becca Boulton, sat down with Gordon McMullan to learn more about his background and how he will be working with Definia going forward.

Becca: You’ve already been part of Definia for a while, but welcome to being a Lead Principal Associate! Can you tell us more about yourself and your professional background?

Gordon: I’m a business and technology transformation leader, defining and leading the implementation of business aligned technology strategies and operating models across multiple industries. Over the last 15 years I have developed my experience in building and maturing an organisation’s entire IT capability at ‘C-Level’ and in Global ERP, M&A. I have also spearheaded true first to market product development in Digital Twins (Transport), Virtual Consultant (Oncology Healthcare), Digital Retail (Automotive).

Becca: In your view, what are the biggest challenges facing businesses today?

Gordon: There are five areas that really stand out for me:

  • Technological Disruption: Rapid advancements in technology, including AI, automation, and digitisation, are disrupting traditional business models. Companies must adapt to these changes to remain competitive (speed of change and product development is ever increasing) while also addressing concerns such as cybersecurity threats and data privacy regulations.
  • Global Economic Uncertainty: Economic instability, fuelled by factors such as geopolitical tensions, trade conflicts, and the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, poses challenges for businesses worldwide. Fluctuating consumer demand, supply chain disruptions, and currency fluctuations require agile strategies to mitigate risks and maintain profitability.
  • Talent Acquisition and Retention: Since COVID, businesses face challenges in adopting to a shift in workforce demographics. Whilst opportunities to access required skills on a global basis, this poses challenges in attracting and retaining top talent. Skill shortages in areas such as technology, digital marketing, and data analytics, coupled with changing employee expectations regarding work-life balance and remote work options, necessitate innovative approaches to recruitment and employee engagement.
  • Sustainability and Environmental Concerns: Increasing pressure to address climate change, reduce carbon emissions, and adopt sustainable business practices is a significant challenge for businesses across industries. Companies must navigate complex regulatory landscapes, meet consumer demands for eco-friendly products and services, and implement environmentally responsible practices throughout their operations to remain socially responsible and competitive.
  • Supply Chain Disruptions: The global supply chain faces disruptions from various sources, including natural disasters, political instability, and pandemics like COVID. These disruptions can lead to delays, increased costs, and inventory shortages, impacting business operations and customer satisfaction, recent example in the automotive industry. Businesses need resilient supply chain strategies, including diversification of suppliers, inventory optimisation, and digitalisation, to mitigate risks and ensure continuity.

Becca: From a technology perspective, what should businesses be looking at?

Gordon: With technology and digital solutions being a real strength and passion of mine, there are many areas businesses should be looking at.

  • Embrace digital transformation: Invest in technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and robotic process automation (RPA) to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and stay competitive in the digital age.
  • Implement robust cybersecurity measures: Protect sensitive data and systems from cyber threats by deploying advanced security solutions, including firewalls, encryption, multi-factor authentication, and security analytics.
  • Adopt cloud computing: Utilise cloud-based services for scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, enabling seamless collaboration, data storage, and access to cutting-edge technologies without significant upfront investments.
  • Utilise predictive analytics: Leverage data analytics and predictive modelling to forecast market trends, anticipate customer demand, and optimise pricing and inventory management strategies in response to economic fluctuations.
  • Enhance agility with agile methodologies: Implement agile practices and methodologies such as Scrum and Kanban to adapt quickly to changing market conditions, mitigate risks, and deliver value to customers more efficiently.
  • Embrace remote work technologies: Enable remote work capabilities through collaboration tools, video conferencing platforms, and virtual workspace solutions to attract and retain top talent regardless of geographic location.
  • Implement supply chain transparency: Leverage blockchain technology and IoT (Internet of Things) devices to track and trace products throughout the supply chain, ensuring transparency and accountability in sourcing and production processes.

Becca: What are the biggest stumbling blocks to achieve what you mentioned above?

Gordon: The same with any business transformation, there are many factors that must be considered to avoid issues –

  • Siloed working practices and culture: Organisations struggle to understand their process and technology estate holistically across departments and divisions. This leads to sub-optimal investment decisions focused on individual needs as opposed to true strategic alignment. As a result, desired benefits are limited with challenges on widespread adoption, increase in technology debt as ‘central’ optimisations are resisted.
  • Cost Constraints and Poor ROI: Adoption requires significant investments not only in technology, but in staff, process optimisation and ultimately change in culture. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), may struggle with budget limitations, making it challenging to justify the expenses associated with technological transformation whilst larger organisations struggle with culture, buy-in and ensuring holistic tracking of ROI.
  • Legacy Systems Integration: Outdated legacy systems enhance difficulties integrating new technologies into their existing infrastructure.
  • Skills and Operating Model Gap: Rapid pace of technological advancement has created a skills gap, with many organisations facing challenges in finding employees with the necessary expertise and the operating model required to implement and manage emerging technologies effectively. Training existing staff or recruiting new talent with specialised skills can be time-consuming and costly and the significant HR implications can delay investment choices.
  • Resistance to Change: Resistance to change among employees and organisational stakeholders can impede technological adoption initiatives. Employees may fear job displacement due to automation or feel overwhelmed by the learning curve associated with new technologies, leading to reluctance or outright opposition to change.
  • Security Concerns: The increasing prevalence of cyber threats and data breaches poses significant security concerns for businesses adopting new technologies. Inadequate cybersecurity measures can expose organisations to vulnerabilities and risks, deterring them from embracing technological solutions that may compromise data integrity and confidentiality.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Businesses operating in regulated industries must navigate complex regulatory frameworks governing data privacy, consumer protection, and cybersecurity. Ensuring compliance with relevant regulations while implementing technological solutions can be challenging and may require substantial resources and expertise.
  • Vendor Lock-in: Dependence on a single technology vendor for critical solutions can create vendor lock-in, limiting flexibility and hindering innovation. Businesses must carefully evaluate vendor relationships and consider factors such as interoperability, scalability, and long-term support when selecting technology partners.

Becca: You will be working closely with Definia as a Lead Principal Associate. Can you tell us more about the role and what you’re looking forward to?

Gordon: One of the core reasons I decided to work with Definia was the unique access to the most relevant skilled associates across all disciplines. My role as a Lead Principal Associate means I am accountable for our client’s service delivery and outcomes. Having access to such talent to form high performing teams to deliver, means I can be very confident in tackling even the most challenging programmes.

They have a great back-office support capability which means I can focus on the high-value activities to ensure the highest quality output and engagement with clients. Given the depth of capability at Definia, I look forward to leading a varied range of transformational services that grows both Definia’s and my experience.

Becca: If an organisation is reading this, how can you and Definia help them?

Gordon: Definia tackles the 4 core challenges facing clients undertaking a transformation journey:

  1. 1. Skills and Capacity Gap: Access to the best, most relevant talent across all disciplines that can be sourced when needed.
  2. 2. SMART Outcomes: All services are based on clearly articulated and measurable outcomes that assist clients in tracking progress and ROI.
  3. 3. Programme Structure: Definia has developed pragmatic, flexible and proven frameworks that properly structure, organise and shape programmes that maximise programme success.
  4. 4. Upskilling and KT: Definia recognise that clients want to mature their in-house capability to drive change ongoing. Definia build KT in all their services to ensure clients obtain the maximum value from our engagement.

If you would like to talk more about an upcoming project and how Definia can help you, reach out to the team today.