Welcome on board John and thank you very much for finding time to talk.
Thank you. I’m very happy to be here.
We are just few weeks away from your official start in the new role as the Aon Krakow Centre Location Leader. How does it feel? Does such an experienced person as you still feel anxiety or stress before starting a new job?
It’s a bit like the first day at school and I would say that’s normal. There would be something wrong if you weren’t a little bit nervous when you walk into a new organization because you’re going to meet new people and build new contacts, there’s also a lot to learn about the business and the nature of the organization, but I really want to do that. It’s an exciting time for me and I’m looking forward to the first of September.
Let us get to know you better – what’s your career story?
After training as a Chartered Accountant in Ireland, I started my career in Poland in audit, in Ernst and Young. In 1995 I moved to Kraków as the BPO Centre Manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers. When in 2002 PWC sold their outsourcing and consulting business to IBM, me and my team moved there and I served as the European Delivery Leader for IBM (Global Process). Right before joining Aon, I was the Director of the Heineken SSC in Krakow and I was responsible for the creation and development of the finance and accounting shared services organisation to support Heineken’s European operations. As well as supporting 25 countries in Europe, we expanded scope delivered from Krakow into more complex areas and we also successfully transitioned certain processes with a third party outsourcing partner in India. I stayed in Heineken for 5 and a half years – the company is stable and well performing and I felt it was time for a new opportunity. Aon’s offer was especially interesting for me because as an organization Aon is in a period of change, what brings great challenges and opportunities, and that’s why I’m here!
You’ve been living and working in Krakow for over 20 years. How the market evolved over those years?
I have to say I’m a great believer in the Krakow market. I’ve been here for quite a long time and I know that the potential people have here is really great and when I see Krakow centres moving up the value chain and bringing in more diverse roles, I think that’s a great vote of confidence in the city and in the people. For me, that’s a really positive thing because I’ve helped to contribute to that success of organizations over the years. Also, what I see in Krakow is that it’s becoming much more multicultural, so we can see an evolution of Krakow which is becoming a real European city where different cultures mix and it also gives a new perspective to people.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I’m a believer in giving good example. I trust my teams. If somebody has something to do, I’m happy to let them get on it, but at the same time I like people to keep me informed about the progress. I don’t micromanage people. When things don’t work, for whatever reason, I’m a big believer in finding the real root cause to find out what really happened, what’s the issue, what didn’t work, how to prevent it from happening again and to share the learning. By character I’m a bit quiet – usually I’m not the loudest person in the room but I like people, I like talking to them and I’m also a big believer in knowing and understanding well the people around your organization.
How your leadership style has changed over the years?
If I went back 15 years, I was probably much more into details but over the years I’ve learned to step back a little bit, let people get on with stuff and give them responsibility, making sure we keep them on track at the same time. Also, the longer I’ve been in this market, the more I recognize the importance of setting people up for success in roles. Especially now, when we are facing a new generation of employees– their expectations, motivations and objectives are different to people coming to the workforce 10-15 years ago, so we have to adjust our understanding because people can behave differently. What I also find is that it’s important that employees understand how their role fits with the wider objective of the organization. That’s why we – managers and leaders – must help people see how they link to the bigger picture of the organization and most importantly, the customers they are supporting.
What inspires you?
I get a great satisfaction from seeing people develop and seeing organizations growing, and that’s probably why I’ve been in Krakow for so long. It’s always been an exciting and interesting market full of great opportunities and I’m really, really proud of the fact that I’ve contributed to that. I like moving forward, doing things a little bit different, taking on new challenges. So, from my professional side, that would be my inspiration. And there is of course the personal dimension as well – family life – my wife and kids – that’s on the other side of what I do and undoubtedly they are my great support and a source of inspiration.
Speaking about the family, how do you balance your work and personal life?
I have 5 kids, so the logistics and managing the work and personal life is quite important! It can be difficult to disconnect from work and probably sometimes we have to force ourselves to do that a little bit. I try to get my work done as much as possible in the working hours, try to avoid evening and weekend working if possible. For me managing the work life is about personal organization and being prepared to be flexible if necessary and also for the teams working for me. I have my own family, so I understand the challenges people have and I’m pretty flexible with others as well.
Once again, thank you for your time and see you soon in our office.
Thank you. I am really looking forward to it!!
John Lyons was appointed as the new Aon Krakow Centre Location Lead as of September 1.
John comes to Aon with almost 20 years of experience, and an excellent understanding of the local and international BPO/SSC market. Previously, John was the Director of the Heineken SSC in Krakow for over 5 years and was responsible for the creation and development of a finance and accounting shared services organisation to support Heineken’s European operations.
Prior to Heineken, he served as European Delivery Leader for IBM (Global Process) for 9 years. Under his leadership the IBM BPO Centre in Krakow grew from 50 to more than 1500 employees. Together with his teams he successfully transitioned and delivered various transactional and more complex accounting processes for IBM’s international clients.
As Aon Krakow Centre Lead John will work with the Board to set the Centre strategy and implement its vision, working in co-operation with business units and location delivery teams.