Should we appoint an internal or external Program Director for our Commodity Trading & Risk Management Transformation Program of Work?

To define whether you should use an internal or external Program Director for your CTRM  Program of Work, start by comparing the required outcomes of the program to the skillsets of the existing people in your business.

Characteristics to consider should include:

  • Nature of the program – i.e. people, process & system changes
  • Scale of project – is this a large project covering many geographies, several departments and how much change is envisaged
  • Technical experience – will there be a need of industry regulatory experience or CTRM or other niche skills
  • Political landscape – straightforward or more difficult/complex
  • Management capability – Integration can be a significant initiate and the candidate may need experience of managing a large team 
  • Gravitas – the project may require the individual to challenge Executives or obtuse board level characters. They also need to forge relationships across the entire organisation at all levels, so make sure they are a great cultural fit!

A further element, in addition to these characteristics, is capacity – has your business &/or existing project/program team reached saturation point and extra resources are needed?

You also need to consider the implications of a decision to appoint an internal or external Program Director.

Internal appointment considerations: 

  • Do we have a Program Director who can actually manage this complex piece of work? 
  • Has one of the existing Program Director’s or Senior Project Managers done this before or have the ability to step up?

A choice is to then bring in an external person to backfill the member of the internal team who will take on this new program. 

Hiring an external Program Director to handle this project may send the wrong message to the current team. Some members of staff may feel that the organisation doesn’t believe in its existing workforce – although the organisation may choose to hire an outsider for monetary or experience reasons, your current employees may not see it that way.

Internal candidates will understand the internal politics and the business/people and therefore will make quicker initial progress. However, many avoid making unpopular decisions about their colleagues, which can dilute the project efficacy. 

Larger and more complex projects really benefit from having the expert internal Program Director but if that professional is not available then we seriously need to consider an external appointment.

External appointment considerations: 

  • If the capability and rigour of the internal Program Director is high then there is the danger of bringing in an outsider who may promote their own methods/techniques. 
  • If using an external resource then fully reference their experience – it is possible to find candidates who have managed similar projects in this space.

An external Program Director can often see problems that are overlooked by internal resources. What’s more, unlike an internal candidate who might be hamstrung by office politics, an external resource is able to operate relatively unfettered. 

The ramp up time can be more significant, as the external Program Director gets up to speed with the business, its ways and the people.

Some organisations choose to bring in external Program Directors to handle specific projects that the company doesn’t have the resources for or the time to implement. 

The decision on whether to use internal resources or bring in specialists is very much driven by where there is availability of expertise, but another factor is the culture of the acquiring organisation. Where an organisation is naturally hierarchical with a strong tone at the top, things get done quite formally. In this kind of environment, when the main sponsor appoints someone, they have the authority to act, and they can also navigate the various parts of the organisation more easily. 

By contrast , in organisations where business units are autonomous and the culture is more entrepreneurial and informal , the knowledge of how to make things happen and who can help, can make it important to have an internal resource more heavily. Complex CTRM transformation projects impact every business unit function and navigating them all at the right time is an important consideration.

Typically, external Program Directors future work is based on successful delivery of their previous projects. By using an outside resource you can get an unbiased view of where your program of work is at and they are motivated to finish on time and on budget. It is more likely that sensitive issues and risks will be addressed and that communication will be accurate as they will be less susceptible to internal pressures.

If the business knows that it is going to bring in an external candidate, then the earlier they are on-boarded, the better! Don’t wait too long to make that decision, because they can help with initial planning and setting the right tone – they can also help to develop plans and/or validate the planning assumptions .

Final thoughts:

A hybrid solution is to bring in an experienced person who has managed a similar program and can act as a coach to an internal resource  – this has the benefit of delivering the project and increasing the skill level of the internal resource. 

Many organisations use a portfolio plan that lists all their projects, this then provides a value of Program/Project Management capacity. The internal team is resourced to 75% of this capacity with the full understanding that the remaining 25% will be sourced externally for the niche, complex projects. 

Still unsure: By having a believable plan/timescale it is possible to calculate the cost of an external Program Director – which should put a value against the risk mitigation of the external resource.

Really still unsure: here is a description of what I look for when we have hired and put Program Directors in place for our clients on complex CTRM programs of work…

Implementary is a ground-breaking company providing game-changing services to clients needs across complex commodity & energy supply chains across foreign and domestic markets. 

Are you an experienced industry professional interested in redefining and transforming end to end processes and modernising core business processes across our customer base? Join us to do the best work of your career and make a profound social impact as a Business Transformation Commodity Program Director. 

What you’ll achieve

You will be charged with breaking the existing business process moulds of our clients to enable them  to modernise the way that they deliver value to their customers & themselves. Unending intellectual curiosity, advanced analytical skills, and vertical & horizontal engagement across our customers coupled with strong technical and business acumen are critical skills required for this role.

The ideal candidate will have +15 year’s experience in Commodities, Procurement, Process Modernisation and Business Transformation, or their equivalent, with Implementation of findings. Applicants to this position should have established strong and extensive analytical skills and delivery abilities, demonstrate the use of modern analytics tools, have domain expertise or the ability to rapidly establish depth in multiple core process areas, and showcase strong business acumen required to understand business outcome level results. Direct team management and/or large scale cross functional team leadership with demonstrated results is also required.

In addition, the ideal candidate must be passionate about our customers and have the ability to link how modernisation of their processes and tools will serve them at the velocity they need with quantifiable transformation results.

You will:

  • Engage with end to end functional leaders, end users and partners around the world to develop a deep understanding of the process & system modernisation needs.
  • Apply modern methods of Program Delivery, use advanced analytics, and leverage tools to provide new insights into current state and redesign processes for transformative outcomes.
  • ‘Hold the pen’ for defining how our clients will transform and lead this process modernisation across their core business processes
  • Work cross functionally with business owners to identify cost levers and programmatic tracking for continuity
  • Build executive presentations to easily convey updates, progress, and a wholistic story to communicate to owners, stakeholders, and leaders
  • Serve as an escalation point of contact to provide clear cross-functional, cross-commodity support while serving as a buffer, sounding board and an information funnel for leadership

Take the first step towards your dream career

Every Implementary team member brings something unique to the table. Here’s what we are looking for with this role:

Essential Requirements

  • +15 Years Experience with demonstrated results in defining, planning, and implementing Business/Process/System/People Transformation and/or Modernisation that have delivered measurable results
  • Direct team management and/or large scale cross functional team leadership with demonstrated results is also required.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills with demonstrated effectiveness at working level and senior leadership levels
  • Experience in complex Commodity Management / CTRM Programs of Work. Supplemental knowledge is preferred in at least 3 Functional business areas which could include Commodity Trading, Finance, Supply Chain, Professional Services, and/or Information Technology

How can we help?

Talk to us about how we can help your organisation lead your project to success. Making it real is what we do.

How can you connect with us?

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About the Author

Jason Novobranec is Implementary’s Chief Operating Officer.

With over 20 years of Consulting, Program Management & Senior Leadership experience, Jason has delivered initiatives for large multi-national / multi-regional organisations as well as SME’s and is an expert in shaping solutions to fit a customer’s project needs.