• Philippa Dengler

Task Force Leader for Initial Public Offering (IPO).

The Swiss business was to be separated from the parent company and floated on the Swiss stock exchange as an independent, rebranded business. That meant a huge number of changes to almost every area of the business - processes, IT systems and requirements changed, all documents and letters had to be rebranded, and the impact extended to organisational and human resource topics.

I worked with senior management and subject matter experts from every area of the business to lead a multidisciplinary Task Force with 15 workstreams during several intense months. The goal was to be fully operational for our customers on day 1 of the separation from the parent company - the first day as an independent stock market quoted company.

In parallel others in the company focussed with lawyers and accountants on the technical aspects of the transaction, whilst others still were plunged into the issues of rebranding an existing business. Amazingly the business also kept running as normal during this period where the outside world should not yet get wind of the changes to come.

Task Force leadership is not Change Management in the usual sense. It is very tactical and based on the coordination of, in this case, hundreds of tasks to achieve a very specific mission. It still requires solid project management skills. Having a clear, well understood critical path and clear communication remain essential. But I see Task Force leadership as a fine balance between getting out of the way and letting the people with the specific knowledge get on with it whilst being there immediately to remove roadblocks and obstacles, or connect people where synergies can occur and avoid redundant work being done. It's about having the overview of what needs to be done by when and ensuring that a sufficient but sustainable pace is maintained to deal with the task at hand.

It was an intense period for everyone involved culminating in the successful launch on the stock market as planned. And that was the end of the Task Force.

It was of course just the beginning of the complete technical separation from the parent company - a separate programme of work which followed. Addressing the cultural impact on the organisation of being an independent Swiss company and no longer part of a huge global conglomerate was also work that could only begin once the Task Force mission was accomplished.

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