Founder Jacques Marais

(…….extracts from an interview with Jacques, held on the 19th anniversary of IPMS)

Jacques’ career began with fifteen years in banking and insurance. Starting in sales  -setting up and running sales forces – then being seconded into management training for two years because he refuse to send his managers claiming the courses didn’t teach a manager anything about managing people or a business. His boss the CEO said “Good, you run it then and hand it back the way it should be!” Jacques wrote multiple new programmes on ‘how to manage people and deliver results’ and also trained hundreds of sales and operations managers.

Jacques’ mantra to all trainers is this:

“Your success as a teacher comes as a result of their results – whether a manager delivering business results or a leader developing future leaders – it is what they do with what you teach, so be careful what you say and do, because it is not about you.”

After the secondment Jacques was given the best region in the UK, but it didn’t last long after he told his boss “it all worked perfectly before I arrived, and it doesn’t really need me?” This resulted in Jacques being assigned to join and lead the ‘operationalisation’ of a massive 2-year project in to either reinvent or shut down Bancassurance ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bancassurance ). Working with a very intelligent bunch of MBAs and MAs from a Boston based firm he ran the operationalisation of the project while also training is systems thinking and financial modelling. The results were immense, saving the bank in £177 million (recurring) and resulted in no-one losing their jobs through reassigning 6,000 people into new roles in service delivery. Jacques redesigned, tested and implemented the entire flow of business lead generation, which was the first sales lead flow management system in the market. Jacques passion for people, process and good guiding policy was born.

During this period of time, his Boss suggest Jacques think hard about his future, describing him as a disruptor and a maverick. He cautioned him about the discomfort he brought to senior colleagues who prefer a steady, predictable path. It was a conversation Jacques will never forget and summed up with one sentence from his boss: “Don’t end up at the top of this ladder and find it’s against the wrong wall. Remain true to you and do what’s right for you.” Jacques left the bank the next day.

In 1998 IPMS was created. Over the first two years Jacques formalised his and his team’s training by enrolling and attending the AGI Goldratt Centre, New Haven, USA and becoming practitioners in Goldratt systems thinking which remains the foundation of the programmes we write and run. Jacques continues to learn and study change and innovation, dedicating a third of his time to this. His favourite saying is: “In God we trust, can everybody else please bring data.”

Today, Jacques still leads executive programmes and designs the IPMS leadership toolkits and programmes. His philosophy remains constant:

“Teach leaders to observe the flow of their business. Imagine yourself standing above a river valley and observing the flow of the river. Most times the river is rising and falling, as it does every year, so do nothing. Occasionally it is changing course or it needs to  change course, anticipate this and do something. Always challenge Executives thinking and rationale because while they are probably not bad people, they do most all of the damage through lack of thought and data. Welcome innovation cautiously, be sure it enables your wider vision and values, and remember innovation by its nature eats and destroys all that came before it, which includes people’s jobs and livelihoods.”

In 2014, Jacques began creating a new kind of leadership centre, at the cross roads of three continents, on the Greek Island of Pátmos. The centre called eCALA is dedicated to bringing together current and future leaders of Europe, Central Asia , Middle-East and Africa to forge new ways of working together for the common good. eCALA opens it doors in 2017/2018. See: www.ecalacademy.com