Pop Quiz, Monday with Karen Simmons

We help organisations see what is preventing them from evolving by delving into the big data, uncovering their habits and equipping people with the confidence and tools to fearlessly lead change rather than react to it.

Karen Simmons

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Karen Simmons

Karen Simmons
Photo credit: Karen Simmons

What is your job role?
Founder & CEO

Tell us about your company?
At The Change Executive, we take the fear out of change. Despite the continually evolving world of work, many organisations are too slow to move. Many remain fearful of change and are constantly caught by surprise, end up being left behind, and increasingly many are losing their talent for future sustainability.

We help organisations see what is preventing them from evolving by delving into the big data, uncovering their habits and equipping people with the confidence and tools to fearlessly lead change rather than react to it.

We creatively blend advisory, coaching, and learning services, to facilitate game-changing conversations and solutions that transform an individual, team and organisational performance.

What do you love most about your job?
When I see someone get a new insight – the ‘a-ha’ moment that shifts their thinking, when they realise what’s been holding them back from reaching their full potential, for me, this can be at individual or whole organisation level – the feeling is the same – great!

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
Curiosity! I can’t get enough of asking questions, and there is always some piece of the puzzle missing, solving complex problems floats my boat! With every change project we work on, the journey is unique, every day is different. I love listening and piecing together stories and being with people on their change journey. It’s a privilege to lead or be part of any transformation, and I want every organisation to do it with kindness.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
I work with an illustrator who has an extraordinary talent for translating complex conversations into witty, meaningful picture stories. I am inspired to be more creative when I’m working with him – and we have lots of laughs too! It’s not just my co-workers that inspire me, and my clients also do. They inspire me to keep doing what I do!

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
Sounds like a cliché – but our work is fun! We don’t need to ‘do’ fun, it just kinda happens!

What are some of the challenges of your job?
We are the CEO! I find the ‘selling’ what we do a challenge – the constant need for a presence in all the various marketing channels out there is exhausting! We don’t sell widgets, and our bespoke services make us hard to compare with others – we are learning though, and we remain committed to owning our uniqueness in this field.

Another challenge is dealing with the complexities of internal politics within larger organisations. Especially in times of change and uncertainty, human behaviour can get very funky, so identifying and supporting the genuine struggles versus the political battles keeps us on our toes.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
My husband often reminds me that ‘just because it’s obvious to you, doesn’t mean it’s obvious to others.’ I worked on a large-scale organisational change project that required a complete 360-degree shift in thinking – beyond re-engineering, this was re-Imagineering! I worked with an in-house team, that had been together for a long time.

My enthusiasm and passion for seeing the change happen tripped me up big time with this team. I had utterly under-estimated the starting point for their journey. I made too many assumptions that they would be ‘on board’ and didn’t spend enough time observing and learning how the group worked before bulldozing in with my grand vision.

One of my strengths is being ‘quick to act’ – I get stuff done! However, I learned from that scenario that our strengths could quickly become perceived as weaknesses in the wrong contexts – what I needed was ‘caution.’ I’m working on that!

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
Keep up to date and soak up what is happening in the world of work, across the globe. Be curious about it, read lots, go to conferences. When working on a change project – spend time listening, observing and asking questions – use all your senses – don’t just rely on processes to manage change. Organisational change is complex, and humans are complicated. My advice would be to get as many different contextual experiences under your belt as possible – don’t get stuck in one organisation or one project for too long, it won’t ready you for supporting organisational change at a velocity in this continually changing world.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:


Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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