DDLS - An audience with AXELOS Learning: Margo Leach
Posted on
17 July 2018
By
DDLS

Welcome to the fourth in an occasional series of articles, where DDLS’s Alliances Director, Gary Duffield, catches up with some of the movers and shakers from the world of partners, technology, process and learning. You can catch up with Chee Sing Chen, Sean Lim and Nick Thomas who we have met over the past few months.

If I were to ask a seasoned IT professional what is currently the single most popular learning experience delivered by DDLS, I might expect answers such as Microsoft Azure or Cisco routing. Those answers would be wrong. We have more people join us for ITIL® training than any other. I’m delighted this month to welcome Margo Leach, Chief Product Officer for AXELOS. AXELOS are the…. Well, I’ll let Margo cover that.

 

Hi Margo, welcome. I think we last met in Perth about a year ago. I know a lot has changed both for AXELOS and yourself in the last year. To our 70,000 strong audience of Australians, can you share your story and where you fit into AXELOS?

I remember that visit like it was yesterday! My first time to Perth, what a beautiful city. Thank you for taking such great care of me!

I’ve been at AXELOS for one and a half years and have been Chief Product Officer for about eight months. As CPO I’m responsible for the development of new products within our portfolio, and updates to our market-leading core products, as well as the commercial success of the portfolio. Obviously the update to ITIL is the key focus this year! It’s a big, exciting job and I’m absolutely loving it. (Especially working with our lovely partners like you, Gary!)

Before AXELOS I was working more in the digital space – developing and taking data/insights products to market in various industries, including agriculture and talent management. I even took a year out to start up a food truck in the UK, specialising in Canadian food. Basically, I’m passionate about good quality product that meets customer demand. I believe the same principles and skills are required, whether it’s software as a service, or a delicious food dish!

AXELOS is a great organisation to work for, the culture and determination displayed by the whole team is contagious. We have grown significantly over the past year, are more focused than ever, and making big investments in our core portfolio products like ITIL and PRINCE2®. PRINCE2 Agile® Foundation launched in June, and the market is very excited, as are we!

 

We’ve both mentioned ITIL, it is having a terrific run with probably, what, 10 years of growth. Two questions for the price of one really: why do you see it just run and run, and what’s after ITIL? Where does the service management professional go after ITIL Foundation?

The single biggest message that we keep receiving time and again is that ITIL delivers value. I think it’s been so successful over the last 10 years because its value is undeniable. 90% of FTSE 100 organisations have built their IT operations around the guidance. We regularly receive case studies about how ITIL has been used to create efficiencies, build new services, provide structure to a business’s IT and deliver value to customers.

I also think that the support of the community around ITIL is a huge driver for its success. It’s the community that supports our updates, shares learnings and thought leadership around ITIL, and it’s to the community we look when we want to understand what is going on in the industry. It’s also the community that has helped us to push on ahead with ITIL 4, the latest planned update of the ITIL guidance. We know that there are new practices and ways of working emerging in the workplace and that our guidance should reflect those practices, but we also want to ensure that ITIL remains ITIL and continues to deliver that value that I mentioned earlier.

One thing that we recognise also as a driver for ITIL’s success is the value that the current ITIL certification brings to individuals. It’s a recognised qualification and it’s seen as desirable by employers. A person who has an ITIL Foundation Certificate speaks a common business language, understands why things are done a certain way and has a good working knowledge about the best way to run IT services.

After an ITIL Foundation Certificate, the next steps really are up to the individual. We find some go through the certification scheme all the way up to Expert level, some take a few intermediates in areas of interest or where they feel they need to upskill, and others continue their ITIL journey through experience in the industry, content subscriptions and industry events. The point is that the guidance delivers value today and will continue to deliver value no matter where you are in your ITIL journey, either as an individual considering taking the exam or as an organisation considering how to improve their services.

 

So, you may have the coolest job title in our industry. Without telling us any secrets, what are you working on at the moment, and what have you been working on?

I am of course most excited about our existing portfolio. They are so established and recognised, that a big part of my role is ensuring that they still represent best practice, that they still provide value, and that they reflect the modern business environment. After the successful update of PRINCE2 2017 and the upcoming ITIL 4 release, I’m looking forward to reviewing the whole portfolio and looking at where there are opportunities to improve.

I do have the coolest job in the industry, you’re correct. For me, my passion is Product. I want to create products that meet business needs, are commercially viable and can deliver value for our customers. The fact that I can be involved in products that have such far-reaching impact is something I am truly grateful for.

Some really interesting things that I’m currently looking at are how businesses can improve their approach to digital transformation. We all know that organisations need to undergo transformation regularly to keep up in today’s rapidly changing world, but are there ways that we can reduce those known barriers to successful transformation? Can tackling the fear of change on uncertainty, and embracing Agile practices help deliver value to businesses?

I work with incredibly talented people who all have great ideas about products that we could potentially look at bringing to market. We have ideas coming out of our ears, from Blockchain to DevOps, from Agile to new ways of learning. The world is our oyster.

 

PRINCE2 has recently gone from a 2009 to 2017 build. DDLS was involved in the planning for that and we have seen the market respond positively. What’s the story worldwide?

Very positive! We’ve had a lot of great feedback about the release of PRINCE2 2017. People are appreciating the updated guidance about the importance of tailoring PRINCE2, as well as some other tweaks we have made to make the guidance and exam more user friendly and clear.

The rollout technically hasn’t stopped though, we are well underway in translating the updated guidance into ten new languages! We’ve just released the first three – Dutch, French, German – and are expecting to complete another seven by the end of the year.

PRINCE2 is the world’s most widely used project management method and the fact it is still in such demand in non-English speaking countries is testament to its recognised value by organisations for delivering benefits.

 

There is way more to AXELOS than PRINCE2 and ITIL, with Agile, Management of Risk, and beyond. Outside of the big two, what’s popular in Australia and the rest of the world?

You’re right, AXELOS has a whole portfolio of qualifications and best practice guidance outside of the big two. One that comes to mind that is increasingly becoming more and more popular here is PRINCE2 Agile. It’s the best of both worlds, using the PRINCE2 themes, processes and principles in agile environments. We’ve recently just released a new PRINCE2 Agile Foundation certification that’s intended to help PRINCE2 practitioners get a good level of understanding of agile (both environments and projects) to enable them to be able to start working in more agile ways immediately.

 

And finally, Margo, my stock standard question. You are very much at the leading edge of global best practice certification. If I asked you to power up your crystal ball, what’s next? How do we “manage” in a globalised economy with staff and clients online 24/7, where our industry is busy reinventing itself almost daily…?

I think the most important thing when asked a question like this is humility: knowing that there is no crystal ball.

What I will say is this: it’s no longer about prescriptive, ‘one size fits all’ guidance. There is now such diversity of technology, skillsets, business models, that the most important ‘tools’ are those that help us to navigate this choice, and figure out what is best for our unique organisations.

Disruption is no new thing, but the pace and scale of it now is like nothing we’ve seen before. The barriers to entry for new competitors is much lower, so ability to respond quickly to new opportunities and threats is essential for modern business survival.

We’re going to see the pace and scale of business transformations start to match this disruption. And with that the demand for tried-and-tested, proven frameworks and methods, such as PRINCE2, and Managing Successful Programs (MSP™), will increase.

It’s an exciting time for our collective industry, and an exciting time for AXELOS. I look forward to the unknown!

 

For more information on ITIL and Project Management courses offered at DDLS, please visit our website.

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