Strategic Operations Specialist

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Katherine Levy

I am a strategic operations specialist with 19 years of experience. My key expertise lies in strategy, operating model transformations, integrations & separations, and program management. I am able to convert conceptual strategies into executable operational plans across all levels of business, as well as lead and develop individuals and teams to from and exceed the results required from ant situation. I am able to challenge the standard ways of doing things and, through this, develop innovative solutions while optimizing the bottom line. My principle strength are a broad, business perspective across industries and departments, the ability to create, develop and lead successful teams, achieve results that are the best for both the client and the business, manage large projects on time and in budget, as well as excellent communication, mentorship and leadership.

Bio

I view all businesses as ecosystems in which the pieces need to fit together to work well. Processes and technology are only as strong as the people and leadership designing, implementing and using them.

 

Chemical engineering gave me a way of thinking, adapting and problem solving. There was never an exam I walked into which had anything known in it. Everything was about seeing a pattern that could possibly attain an end result, and every end result had to be tested with logic to see if it made sense.  Today, this experience serves me well, allowing me to tackle business problems in any industry, using patterns and hypotheses to find a practical outcome. 

Working for and at large corporates has taught me that culturally you have to be inclusive, understanding, patient and always listen. Giving people the space to explain their thinking and reasoning allows you to not be influenced by group bias or personal filters. Many times our solutions are coloured by our personal experience and we miss out on finding a better solution through using the perspectives and experience on a team.

I have adopted the approach of letting my team ask me as many questions as they need to so that everyone is aligned from an expectations and understanding perspective early on in the project which results in less misalignment as  deadlines approach. 

My idea of a good project is one which goes beyond just getting the job done to a place where I see people grow in terms of their way of thinking, their behaviours, and the way they deal with things. Of course, projects need to meet their outcomes but beyond that, I receive satisfaction from seeing the team thrive.

What’s really driven my career and success has been understanding teams and mentoring the people I work with to enable them to achieve more than they thought was possible and ultimately enabling a successful project.  If a person is not performing up to scratch, a leader needs to first look at their leadership style and then ask the questions about whether the person is correctly matched to the team and requirements. Communication, expectation management and enablement solve a large amount of performance problems.

During the covid-19 pandemic, the lockdown has shown me the power of empathy, having empathy is being cognisant of how people deal with things. The pandemic has essentially been the same thing for everyone, but it has impacted people fundamentally differently; be it mentally, economically, or socially. My experience is not the same as your experience even though the input factor was the same. It has also highlighted for me the need for us to relook at how organisations execute cost savings – using a method that might realise a 1% smaller drop in efficiency while helping their people for another 5 months should be seen as a win, not a loss.

The pandemic has exacerbated the often-occurring fault in communications and explanations - you can explain the same thing to two people, and they will take profoundly different things out of the conversation. Acknowledging that your experience and thinking colour the way you see the world is important because for things to be successful you and your team must be working toward the same destination.

I like working in industries and with clients that use advisors to challenge their thinking and not just for validation purposes. Have a good debate with clients around new and different ideas and how they would affect that particular company is both stimulating and a learning experience.

Vocational learning is far more important than book learning considering how fast the world is changing. Formal learning becomes outdated in business far too quickly for it to be sustainable and thus learning from reading about case studies, talking to people and understanding new ways of operating are far more effective.  The topics that interest me vary across a very wide continuum and this is so that I can learn about both the content as well as how other people think. This helps me not only understand different problems but also how to work with different types of people.

Being part of the MAD network offers huge opportunities, not just for work but also to connect with and learn from experienced experts.  It’s a network that allows associates to come together and work on projects that they wouldn’t have been able to take on practising solo.  The directors of MAD are all people that I worked with whilst at Deloitte and each one of them taught me a number of lessons and shaped who I became both as an advisor and leader. I believe that the experience in the network is part of MAD’s superpower

Prior Experience

Independent contractor (2012 – current)

Deloitte (2004 – 2011)

Sasol (2001 – 2004)

Education

MCOM (Business Management) Cum Laude, Top Dissertation and Top Student.

 

University of Johannesburg (2003 – 2005).

 

Dissertation Topic: The link between innovation and economic growth in emerging economies.

Functional Skills

Business Strategy

Post Merger integration

Target operating models

Programme & Project Management

Finance Transformation

Business Process re-engineering

Customer Relationship management

Value Based Optimisation

Scenario analysis

Business Transformation

Key Strengths

Strong Team leadership ability

Strong client management & engagement management skills

Confident & well-spoken presenter 

Ability to translate conceptual strategies into step changing operational strategies

Strong organisational skills

Enthusiastic

Software Proficiency

MS Office Suite - Advanced proficiency in MS Excel & MS PowerPoint

MS Project

MS Vision

 
 
 
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