Bespoke Communication Skills Development

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Background

M&G is a leading international asset management house, known for its long-term and conviction-led approach to investing. They have been an active manager of investments for individual and institutional clients for over 80 years.

Today they manage assets in excess of £234.3 billion (as at 30 June 2013) in equities, multi-asset, fixed income, real estate and cash for clients across Europe and Asia.

Their performance and expertise has been recognized by independent authorities within the industry, helping them win awards as a group and for their funds.

Challenge

As a finance professional in a global investment business Grant Speirs, Group Finance Director was a seasoned communicator. For more than two decades Grant has been making presentations, which while well received, were by his own admission somewhat formal. Grant admits they weren’t exactly a relaxing experience for him.
Grant commented:
“I wanted to take some of the stress out of preparing for both formal and informal communications and to feel far more relaxed about the process.”
Grant wanted to raise his game, to initially benchmark his current performance and then develop a range of communication approaches which allowed him to flex for different audiences.

“My role requires me to present, formally or informally, to a variety of different audiences about the business. I have never had presentation training, and apart from wanting to understand how I could deliver more effective, authoritative presentations, I was hoping to pick up some tips on how to de-stress an activity that for me, always involved a lot of anxiety in the lead up.”

The Aziz Programme

Grant’s initial session was with Aziz Corporate Chairman and Senior Consultant, Khalid Aziz. Khalid discussed with him the theory of effective communications and the communication traits of accomplished leaders. This ‘Leadership Communication’ approach gave Grant an insight into how he might improve his performance. He was also given tools to help him prepare more effectively and with a more efficient use of his time.
Khalid also recommended a suite of modules, delivered by Aziz Corporate consultants developing areas such as Voice, Influencing skills, Performance and Presence, Content & Structure, and 3D Pressure Management, designed to help reduce the stress involved in key communications.

“The approach described by Aziz Corporate perfectly matched what I was hoping to achieve and, even better, the actual sessions that I have completed so far have delivered on the promise.
I know that I am by no means the complete article, however I have been given the tools that can help me get there and the rest is up to me.”

Benefits

Immediately after the initial Diagnostic session Grant had to make a major in-house presentation and unprompted, colleagues remarked on a significant improvement in Grant’s style, observing that he came across as both authoritative and relaxed.

Grant believes that the programme has resulted in:

“Being able to approach and deliver presentations more effectively with greater confidence. The onus is on me to implement the skills that have been taught.”
“I have been provided with the tools required to deliver a professional presentation, I just need to practise using them”

Grant was able to build on this using the tools and tips offered in the other modules. He is now considering further intervention from the Aziz Corporate team to continue to reinforce the improvement.

The initial programme was delivered over a period of 3 months.

Timeline

1994-1996 – Accountancy articles, E & Y, Johannesburg, South Africa
1997-1999 – Project Accountant, involved in developing the back office accounting system for a business that ran a number of strategies across UK and Europe as well as managing the Euro conversion in early 1999. Maple Partners UK (Pty) Ltd
1999-2008 – Finance Director of Prudential Portfolio Managers. Responsible for compliance, finance, back office fund administration, HR and IT. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, PPMSA is a subsidiary of M & G.
2008-Present – Group Finance Director of M & G Investments

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