DAVID BRUDENELL On Leading Meaningful Digital Transformation

David Brudenell, Managing Director & Chief Digital Officer of Eclipx, speaks to us ahead of his session about Digital Transformation at The Executive Leadership Summit on November 26. In this interview with our founder, Dana Lightbody, he talks about his radical approach to creating breakthrough transformation.

People-focused transformation

When it comes to change, David doesn’t just focus on the digital components of the organization to tackle the work of business transformation.

“I look at the big levers in the organization that you want to move to have an outcome and drive the business forward.”

For example, when he first came into Eclipx, he was tasked to change the website to acquire more customers. David explains how he spent the time studying “the big levers” to begin the work of improving the sales process at Eclipx.

“Where are these customers coming from today? Where will they come from in the medium term and where would they potentially come from in the future? And when I looked at the data, 98% of all our client acquisition came from our sales team. And very few people came in through the website.”

“And so rather than spend all this money on digital transformation, what we did was we focused on the tools of our sales team to make their lives more digital, for example we created internal request forms which goes directly into the CRM. We made our sales team more productive and that had a meaningful impact on their performance.”


Team experience and customer delight

David views his leadership role in digital as someone who takes away the grind to bring in more delight for his team and, ultimately, the customer. He talks about being inherently lazy, adding “I want to be in my office watching Netflix. That’s my dream. And I said that to the staff, “that should be your dream too!” He is thinking about smart solutions so that they can all be “lazy”, meaning doing more of what they like to do for the business.

“When you eliminate that thing that you don’t like, you get to do more of what you do like, right? You spend less time searching for customers and more time talking to them before any issues arrive. When they’re super-duper happy, because they’ve just got the brand-new car. So they (the sales team) are elevating the value and the work. And that’s pretty cool.”


Leading with empathy to navigate change

Leadership hasn’t really changed much for David since the first day of his first job. Leading from the front, listening and being empathetic — all the qualities of good leadership, haven’t changed. They continue to be great tools for adapting to the ever-evolving demands of the business environment. David shares his thoughts on responding with empathy to the changing needs of the company.

“I find that with the younger cohorts, it’s very important to find meaning. I have one person start and then leave and they told me they’re leaving because they couldn’t ethically work for a company that sold cars which produced carbon emissions. I didn’t even know what to say to that, but it told me a lot about the things that younger cohort thinks to motivate them.”

“For the older cohorts, it’s a bit more tricky. I think it’s more about security and covering off all the edges. So that means appreciating that there are people at your organization who have children and they need to bring those children to work and sit at the meeting. And that’s perfectly okay.”

“Businesses need to invest in people to grow their capability or they need to import them because there’s not a lot of them. Especially in some of the new emerging technologies. The Australian talent pool is quite shallow for emerging technology and I think that’s the consequence of the curriculum being slow to change. And now you have to appease the appetite of shareholders on your team’s future capability. It’s tough, right?”


Join David at The Executive Leadership Summit to learn what it takes to drive efficiency and growth in your own team through digital transformation. Don’t miss this last chance to take away the core learnings of an MBA with Australia’s most seasoned executives.  Sign up today.

Executive leadership summit

Authenticity in Action – Your 10-Point Checklist on How to Build and Rebuild Organisational Trust

Can your business be trusted?

In the age of financial scandals, data breach and fake news, the word “trust” appears to have lost its meaning with corporations – the bigger you are, the less trustworthy.

Academics define trust in business as the commitment to be responsible for the actions of others. Every transaction we make relies on businesses having the very best of intentions. In short, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to businesses because we believe they have our backs.


Understanding Trust from the End-Customer’s POV

The only way for businesses to build trust is to put customer interest above all else. How are you creating value for your customer? Is it through products and services that enhance their lives or put them in harm’s way?

Customer trust is tied to your own employee’s experience with the firm – they are now more inclined to check if you treat your employees well.

Customers also want to know — are you a legally, ethically and socially responsible business? They differentiate those who are responsible and compliant and those who are not.


What firms can do to build and rebuild trust —
A 10-Point Checklist

Breaking trust is simply bad business. Betrayals have been found to have significant financial consequences according to the 2018 study from the Economist. On the flipside, creating trust boosts overall performance.


Luckily, we’ve put together this 10-Point Trust Checklist you can use right now to assess your firm’s trustworthiness and start to build a trusted, beloved and profitable brand.


1. Commitment

Are you consistently fulfilling your promise to customers?


2. Value

Are you providing products and services that enhance the lives of customers and employees?


3. Safety and Compliance

Are you compliant with consumer protection laws, industry standards and regulations?


4. Transparency

Are you acting responsibly by disclosing customer risk?


5. Motive

Are you doing what’s good for customers and not just for your organisation?


6. Competence

Are you doing what you claim to be doing, and can you do it well?


7. Social Impact

Are you acting responsibly to protect public health, the environment, and the local community?


8. Economic Impact

Are you contributing to economic development by creating great opportunities for employment?


9. Ethics

How have you obtained your market position? Was it through fair practice?


10. Legitimacy

Are you operating in compliance with local and federal laws?


Assess your firm’s trustworthiness and start to build a trusted, beloved and profitable brand with this 10-Point Checklist

Creating trust is never easy – but there are steps you can take right now to win the loyalty of your customers. Learn how you can build organisational trust and enhanced reputation from some of the top CEOs and MDs of Australia’s most trusted companies. Sign up for our Authentic Leadership Summit 2020.



Inspiring a New Generation of Business Leaders – An Interview with ESME BORGELT, Managing Director, Kellog’s

Interview with Esme Borgelt, MD Kellog's ANZ

Esme Borgelt’s career has taken surprising turns, from finishing a law degree in her home country of South Africa, to spending 10 years with Kimberly-Clark and the last 15 years at Kellogg’s where she is now the Managing Director for ANZ.

“I am originally a law graduate from the University of Pretoria in South Africa and coming straight out of university, joined Kimberly-Clark as part of their graduate recruitment program. Did a couple of stints, as they moved graduates around. Landed in sales and pretty much never left, ” jokes Esme.

“At the end of her 10-year stint at Kimberly-Clark, she was the Sales Director for the Consumer Division. Esme then left Kimberly-Clark to join Kellogg’s where she has been a key member of its ANZ Leadership. After almost 15 years of leading a massive team of passionate salespeople for the iconic cereal giant, Esme was tasked with the role of turning around Kellog’s ANZ as Managing Director.

Ahead of The Executive Leadership Summit 2019, Esme sat down with our CEO Dana Lightbody, to discuss all things leadership and how her priorities have shifted over the course of her career. Mentoring is high on that list of priorities for Esme as she talks about how it delivered great outcomes for Kellog’s business and culture.

Moving into Leadership


When asked about her career trajectory from sales to the C-Suite, if that was typical of her industry, Esme notes that her climb up the corporate ladder was far from traditional.

“I think in the past you would typically find finance and marketing leaders at the helm. In recent times as there is a great appreciation for execution, you see more and more salespeople step into more generalist roles. And it makes sense if you think about it.”

“I joke with people at Kellogg’s – I say ‘everyone’s in sales!’ We are all focused on delivering the same outcome, which is generating more sales. I think that is what makes Kellogg’s such a special place.”

With the new roles, came a new mindset and approach to what leadership looks like for Esme.

“When you get appointed to your first management position, you got thrusted into this role that you are nowhere near equipped for being responsible for people.

I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery and development ever since. When I started my career in the mid-nineties, good leadership was all about command and control,” remarks Esme.

“Being a woman and developing my career in sales in those days, you learn quickly to become mentally tough, not to show emotion, not to show any weakness.”

“But I think in more recent times, as expectations on managers and leaders has evolved from the command and control model. Those things that I learned early on in my career that made me good and strong, are the things that started to hold me back.”

After going through an intense leadership training program, it soon became clear that the ‘keep your emotions in check’ approach to leadership wasn’t working, and Esme realized she had become an ineffective leader.

“The mental toughness that I brought to the table meant that I wasn’t relatable for people. I couldn’t inspire people to be their best self or do their best work because they can’t relate to me. That was a huge personal turning point for me, and I had to learn to become more comfortable with being vulnerable.”

Changing her style from ‘command and control’ to leading with purpose and passion has enabled Esme to be more creative and strategic. It has come to a point of prioritizing team results over taking charge. For Esme, leading is ultimately about loving what the team has achieved together.

Leading with Purpose and Being a Mentor


Esme sums up the lessons of her long career by identifying the top two skills to lead teams well into the future – first, self-acceptance, and second, to lead with purpose.

“Learn to become comfortable with being you. When people are comfortable being themselves, all that energy can be redirected into achieving business results.”

The second skill is around finding your purpose in life – why you do, what you do and helping others to find theirs.

“Purpose to me has changed over time, and it has become a relentless focus on creating an environment where people can bring their best self to work. I take a great amount of energy from the success of others and enabling people to achieve outstanding results.”

According to Esme, “if you’re doing what you do in service of something greater than you then it doesn’t always feel that hard, and you get through anything.”

“I take a great amount of energy from the success of others and enabling people to achieve outstanding results.”

The Future of Work


There are big things happening at Kellogg’s, with some exciting initiatives that highlight exactly how work is changing and what the future looks for individuals, teams and organisations. Esme makes work exciting for her team at Kellogg’s with opportunities to play around with cross-training. For example – who would have thought that the massively popular Baby Shark Froot Loops was conceived from idea to shelf by a team member from HR?

“We gave her this project, and she absolutely nailed it from beginning to end. Her intention is to continue building her career in HR but she’s going to do it in a completely different way,” notes Esme.

Another cross-training project at Kellog’s is what Esme calls the ‘SWAT Teams’. At the beginning of the year, they put together multi-functional teams to solve ‘meaty’ business challenges. The SWAT Teams are not typically involved in the area where the problem is.

“The results that we got from that were stunning! People brought the time and energy to the work and came up with new and different solutions for us,” remarks Esme.

“In some ways we are changing the future of work. Which is going to be a lot more objective-driven rather than function-driven.”

Esme’s brand of leadership is just as surprising and exciting as her journey. It is inspiring to learn how she is innovating work by starting a collaborative and creative culture. With Esme at the helm, the next generation of business leaders is off to a great start.

Learn how you
 can empower your team to achieve outstanding results! Join Esme Borgelt at the Executive Leadership Summit where she will deliver a keynote on leading your organisation through mentoring. 

Executive Leadership Summit 2019

What is gravitas and why do you need it in your life?


According to the Cambridge University, the definition of gravitas is seriousness and importance of manner, causing feelings of respect and trust in others.


So why is it so important in business today?


I believe as a leader, you need gravitas to make an impact and actually be heard. As a woman in this technology driven business world, today it’s not just the suits in the room we’re up against, but a combination of information overload and a time poor society. Whoever shouts louder or “fakes it till they make it” seem to win out.


Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying we should fake our experience to win a battle or a seat on the board, for me it’s about having the quiet confidence to take you beyond your qualifications and expertise. By creating your own inner gravitas, it will take you further in the boardroom, attract a tribe to follow your lead and help form future leaders.


Think of gravitas as a mindset that gets you out of your comfort zone, but also out from behind that “invisible coat” we all like to hide under from time to time.


To change your mindset and move to the next stage of your career, I recommend you:

  1. Create your own personalised gravitas plan
  2. Undertake a speaking/presenting course to learn to project your authority
  3. Always act with integrity and know your boundaries
  4. Expand your circle of influence by supporting others to do the same
  5. Look the part – presentation is important no matter who the audience is!


“My number one thing to remember when you need to bring your gravitas to the table is that it’s not about being arrogant to get what you want. Use it to influence with intelligence and grace.”


If you need help with creating your personalised gravitas plan, join us for our ‘What Women Need to Know to Build their Gravitas’ workshop with Amanda MacLean from The Gravitas Project at the Women In Leadership Summit. The one-day workshop will be held on Tuesday, 24th September 2019 at Sydney’s Seymour Centre. Tickets available here.