As of the 1st of November, Russell Longmuir became the new Chief Executive Officer at EFQM. Let us introduce him to you.
Tell us a little about your background and what you were doing before joining EFQM?
I started out as a banker in London and New York before moving into Management Consultancy where I spent 20 years working as a Partner at IBM, KPMG and the German strategy consultancy Zeb.
In 2015, I became the CEO of BQF where I got my first taste of the Excellence world and the EFQM and my first chance to run a company rather than a division of a multi-national.
If I had one main theme running through my career it would be planning and delivering organisational transformation and large-scale change projects. And I have been lucky enough to do this across many countries from Japan to the US as well as multiple industries and sectors. Along the way I have also worked with several start-ups as a Board Advisor or CEO coach, which are now flourishing, such as Infrascale in the US and Temporall in the UK – a really exciting company that is trying to enable organisations to continuously measure their culture and the financial return it brings.
Why did you decide to join EFQM as CEO?
I think that we need to help Global organisations continue to be more competitive and productive. They need to be modern and agile, managed and led well and able to win consumers and customers around the world. The EFQM was set up to do this more than 25 years ago and these objectives are even more important in today’s world.
In answer to your question, where else would I get to lead an organisation that operates in over 40 countries and has helped 30 000 organisations to manage change and try to move a step nearer to excellence every day. When the opportunity arose to lead an organisation with EFQM’s values and mission, I jumped at it.
How would your previous colleagues/friends describe you?
To be honest, it’s probably best to ask them but I hope they would say honest, transparent, driven and fun!
Tell us a little about your family and what you do in your spare time.
I am extremely lucky to have had close and supportive parents. I still go to watch my favourite rugby team in London with my 81-year-old father and my brother. I am very proud of my 2 sons and my step daughter – they are generous and warm young adults who are making their way in the world. My wife Louise owns and runs a business and is a Child Psychotherapist, so she is at the forefront of the challenges around children’s mental health that are affecting our society more and more.
I like most sports, enjoy weight training, don’t mind a bit of boxing as long as the other person doesn’t hit back! I love wine and enjoy beer (an advantage of the EFQM being in Brussels!!) and I guess I am a bit of a foodie. Oh yes and I love warm weather and the sea!
What is going to be the biggest challenge at EFQM for you?
We share the same challenges all global organisations are facing in this more complex and changing world that demands content for free, tools that enable fast decision-making and approaches that make organisations more agile and better prepared to deal with change.
We need to develop a new platform or Model to help organisations achieve these goals and objectives so for me the Model renewal and its success is our biggest challenge. Also, we need to be focused and relevant to organisations in Europe whilst supporting the growth of EFQM values around the world – that is a big challenge for a small organisation.
And don’t forget, we need to appeal to global companies, the public sector and SMEs and attract those companies that want to work with our Model or approach and those that also want recognition. So, we have many challenges and great opportunities.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
I suppose I have learned that a risk is really just another word for opportunity. So, I have seized many opportunities in my career. I was given 24 hours to decide on a move to New York at 25 and then 15 years later was given 24 hours to decide to go to Japan to run the biggest internal reorganisation project IBM was undertaking.
So I hope that as a leader I try to get this message across to people: when we say “risk” we tend to look at all the negative things that could happen or go wrong but by changing our language, and saying “opportunity”, we suddenly coach ourselves to see the possibilities and the positive things that we might make happen.
Who is your role Model?
I am not sure I have one person but probably a series of people whose characteristics I admire – both famous people and those I have worked with throughout my career. I am attracted to people who have overcome adversity but have remained compassionate, so Nelson Mandela stands out as does someone more contemporary like Malala Yousafzai. From a business point of view the money, time and resources that people like Richard Branson and Bill Gates now put into charitable and medical causes is immense yet even with their success they remain humble and humane.
Where do you see EFQM in 3 years?
Well that is a great question and one that will probably take up most of my thinking time and the questions I will direct at our stakeholders and members in the next 3 months. The most important thing is that we remain open, collaborative and inclusive on our journey whatever route or destination we decide.