Sabrina Sommer

Director of Programme Management, Executive Coach, Executive MBA Student

Helping and advising senior leaders, start-ups & organisations to achieve results beyond what was thought possible.

 

I am a successful, innovative and bi-lingual (fluent German and English) Director of Programme Management and C-level advisor with 18 years of experience in agile, hybrid and waterfall multi-sector digital transformation and change management programmes.

Originally from a small island in the North of Germany, I moved around for exciting job opportunities and lived in various parts of Germany before I wanted to settle in Cologne. Three months after my move my boss seconded me to our sister company in London for three months. After a couple of extensions of this secondment, I decided to stay in the UK as the project opportunities are much more service oriented than in Germany. So now I am living in London for the last six years, the longest period in one city after leaving home.

In 2016 I completed a six-month Executive Coaching Development Programme from Teleos Institute, Philadelphia USA, which also lead me to start an Executive Master of Business Administration Study at Cranfield School of Management, UK.

At Cranfield, I am currently training as a General Manager where I will be graduating as a Master of Business Administration and Leadership in June 2019.

Both personal development courses were self-funded.

sabrina_sommer

My Key Attributes

What do I stand for?

My Key Experiences

People and customer-centric General Manager with a background in Digital Business Transformation, Programme Delivery and building high-performing teams.

Trained coach and trusted advisor to a variety of people, from graduates to executives, on how to improve their “status quo” and take action in the right direction.

Project turn-around and Red Team specialist with the experience to assess and take charge of failing situation that is ambiguous at best.

Deep understanding of development life cycle and agile delivery frameworks with a focus on integrations and operational support after go-live.

Relationship manager or moderator between different groups to improve communication, shape understanding and working towards the same goal.

My Key Strength

Focus to establish direction, generate momentum, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track and follow through.

A strategic view that helps to quickly spot the relevant patterns and issue to understand how best to proceed.

Passionate Leader who can take control of a situation, motivate staff and remains calm under pressure.

Constantly striving to learn and improve with the aim of raising the bar of understanding and quality. Celebrates success and aims to analyse the lessons learnt to achieve continuous improvement.

Building relationships and networks, by understanding my counterparts and their needs. Thus allowing me to translate and moderate between various groups.

My Key Activities

Connect the dots, understand the big picture, people and organisational needs to optimise and adapt processes and activities.

Develop sustainable strategies to solve complex problems and actively manage risks to mitigate them becoming issues.

Providing structure, guidance and coaching to build high-performing teams focussing on doing the right things instead of doing things right.

Be available and connected to people across my organisation and make it my priority to develop women and men who want to be successful.

Network inside and outside the organisation to bring the relevant experts together to enable informed decision making and ensuring full consideration of all views.

The Value I Provide

Lead by example, communicate clearly and hold people accountable to give the team no doubt about the direction.

Seek clarification and question to remove any obstacles and to disrupt old patterns of thinking. This results in clarity and consistency for the whole team.

Diagnose the root cause of problems and ensure all aspects will be considered when resolving the situation.

Create a positive environment with a strength-based,  coaching culture to enable the team to take the correct actions on their initiative to go beyond the possible without following orders.

Build trust and resilience to ensure teams are prepared and adaptable to quickly changing situations by supporting a shared consciousness.

My Core Values

What drives and motivates me?

trust

Trust

Trust is one of the main skills needed to establish high-performing teams. It is important to me to be able to trust the people I work with and that they can trust me. It requires to be vulnerable and able to ask for help.

trust and honesty

Honesty

Due to my honesty, I earned the respect of many senior leaders and team members following me. Sometimes the truth is difficult to hear, and I might need to soften the message, still, I will always speak up. It closely linked to being able to trust.

communication and information

Communication

Without the access to all information, people and teams are in silos, not able to understand the bigger picture. It is essential to share information to support a shared consciousness so that everyone on the team is able to do the right thing without hesitation.

Relationships

Relationships

People and relationships are at the core of any success. Focus on people and you can overcome nearly any obstacles in your way. This is what made me successful during my whole career.

developing others

Developing Others

My personal aim is to be the best at developing others. Helping my team member and coachees to understand what they really want to do and then support them in achieving it.

Overcoming Challenges

Overcoming Challenges

Staying calm in difficult situations and leading the way to a good outcome is one of my strengths, and what I need to feel satisfied. Finding the solution which will improve the status quo is what I am aiming for.

My Key Achievements

Examples of successful work throughout my career

Director of Programme Management

People-focused Delivery and Change Management Experience since 2003. 

Running multiple complex digital transformations and change management programmes with a mixed project team of customers, own consultancy and other suppliers with over 150 members and up to a £25m budget.

  • Successful re-platforming of mainframe application for a shipping surveyor with a nine-year history of failed implementations with other suppliers. First programme that delivered successfully integrated projects from three different delivery centres across the UK and Malaysia. (Over 150 staff, £25m budget)
  • Synchronised the delivery of three large suppliers for the digital transformation of a packaged travel provider and managed the development of a roll-out ready package for other brands and countries. It was the first integration of a new German travel search in the UK market, and the project faced multiple challenges as the UK, and the German market had different approaches. This resulted in the adaptation of the core software. (Over 50 staff, £6m budget)
  • Business & IT project manager for the webshop implementation of the largest multichannel programme in Europe in 2010 where five core applications had to be customised and integrated for the first time.  After challenges due to missing end-to-end oversight, appointed as overall delivery manager to ensure successful integration and go-live according to schedule. (Total: Over 200 staff, €50m budget, Webshop Implementation 50 staff, €8m budget)

Red Team Specialist

Review and Assessment of Complex Integration Projects and Programmes

Assessment of various delivery projects at all stages of the software cycle and definition of turn-around strategy.

  • Programme assessment of a not performing 60 people development team plus 12 people management team, where the programme had already incurred a 12 weeks delay. Establishing a project improvement initiative which consisted of several days of team and vision building for the senior management and senior delivery team before we brought the whole team together. This intervention and the implementation of a continuous improvement process improved the collaboration and increased the velocity afterwards to deliver to the predicted timelines.
  • Review of a technical delivery project to implement a new Intranet, where the main issue was the disagreement of the three senior stakeholders. After the assessment phase, the client agreed to uplift the technical project to a change management programme, and after intensive work with the senior management team, this programme became finally successful after nine years of trying.
  • Stop of a large multi-channel programme at a large telecommunication provider after the release management process caused massive issues and risk to the core operation. Defining a new programme governance and managing the process to establish an in-house programme team to derisk and improve the implementation across the company.

Management Consultant and Advisor

Deep understanding of technical details, business drivers, operational processes and the long-term strategy combined with stakeholder management skills

Supporting the client not only with the requested tasks but by understanding the broader context, being able to advise on actions concerning the bigger picture.

  • Supporting and coaching the client leadership team of a bank, that had less experience in creating a roadmap for the year and managing the change aspect of the programme. Instead of just producing the deliverables, enabling the client team to understand the process and take full ownership and bring in 100% commitment. This allowed the client to plan the budget for the year and communicate what the team will deliver.
  • Moderating different parties, like suppliers or business and technical experts, in meetings to enable both sides to understand their counterpart fully. This helped across all projects in my career to reduce misunderstandings (e.g. when two suppliers had a different concept of “class”) and reduce costs by suggesting easier implementations at nearly the same functionality.
  • Through honesty and delivering on my promises, I regularly became the advisor of the senior leadership team of the customer, often being invited to Steering Boards as the only external party. As I am putting my client’s interest at the centre of my intention, I start each consulting project with understanding what needs to happen for me to leave this project. This enables frank and honest conversations, and senior leaders use my expertise to make the right decisions rather than worrying about me being an external consultant.

Department Head and Member of Leadership Teams

Leadership skills to define and implement a strategy and run a department

While working as a project manager has similar tasks than running a department, the focus and the motivation to be accountable for the future yourself makes a difference.

  • After taking over the Ops and Support teams of an e-commerce implementation provider, lots of different problems had to be fixed, while providing 24/7 support to our customers. Realising that you cannot fix everything at the same time was difficult and prioritising what will have the most significant impact was a good concept to start. By doing so, focusing on coaching the team leads and shielding the team from the escalation calls with customers, helped to improve the department quickly.
  • In various employments I was part of the leadership team, defining the strategy of the company or business unit. With a clear connection to the people on the ground and understanding what the business wants to achieve, I was able to improve the processes and communicate the reasons, so we met a high compliance rate. This resulted in a more effective output, a happier customer and happier staff.
  • When taking over a team of BAs and UX Consultants, I was worried that I was missing the actual competency in these areas, to be a good boss. By acknowledging that the team members were the experts and my job was to coordinate the work, develop them and manage the dependencies with the other teams, I earned respect from the team quicker than I could have ever imagined.

My Personal Development

Selection of training courses I attended

Coaching

  • Teleos Coaching Development Programme (02/2016-10/2016 134.5 hours)
  • ICF ACC Accreditation in Progress (70 of 100h)

General Management

  • Executive MBA Cranfield School of Management (2017-2018, Graduation 06/2019)

information technology

Information Technology

  • Dipl. Ing Information Technology International (10/2000 – 09/2003) Berufsakademie Mannheim, Germany
  • BA Information Technology International (10/2000 – 09/2003) Open University London, UK
  • ITIL V3 Foundation Certification (2008)
  • Leading SAFe based on version 4.5 of SAFe (2017)

personality types

Personality Types

  • Discovery Insight Profile: 144- Creative Directing Motivator (Accommodating) red – green – yellow – blue
  • Myers-Briggs Type: INTP
  • DISC Profile: 7-1-1-6, Creative
  • Clifton Strengths: Focus, Strategic, Command, Individualization, Learner

personality types

MBA Modules

  • Year 1 : Accounting (72%), Challenges for Leaders(70%), Economics of Organisations and Strategy(67%), Entrepreneurship and Venture Creation (65%), Financial Management (77%), Global Macroeconomics and Business Environment (66%), Organisational Behaviour and Developing Leadership (73%), Project Management Introduction (79%), Strategic Management (76%), Strategic Marketing (73%), Strategic Operations Management (75%)
  • Year 2: Strategizing in Challenging Contexts (75%), International Strategy, Data Analytics and Decision Making, International Business Assignment, Leadership in Action, Venture Capital Investment Competition, Business Law, Managing Strategic Innovation, Corporate Financial Strategy, Driving Value through the Supply change, Negotiating in Business and Organisations)
  • Individual Research Project: How can companies be more successful?