Principal Consultant Nigel Sanderson has had a diverse career working in HR roles from Africa to Australia across the manufacturing, pharmaceutical, banking, energy and higher education sectors. But a more recent shift into consulting, and reconnecting with a former colleague, has landed him at Keogh.
Over close to 30 years working in leadership roles focused on Human Resources, Nigel developed a passion for facilitating, more specifically working with senior leadership teams to facilitate large scale organisational transformations.
One of the biggest was during his six-year tenure at global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, where as HR Director for manufacturing in South-East Asia he helped facilitate enormous change when the Company merged with Wyeth.
With a headcount of 5,000 in Asia at a time the Company’s global workforce was around 100,000, Pfizer was developing manufacturing outside the US and Europe into Asia.
The transition and learning curve were steep, with Nigel’s remit including becoming an influential diversity and inclusion advocate to help create one clear organisational culture transcending people’s backgrounds, beliefs and borders.
“Creating one culture was really amazing for me, integrating leadership teams, integrating teams within the workforce and understanding what the new culture needed to look like while bringing two organisations together,” he recalls.
“We had to restructure the entire HR function globally, pulling out business partners and creating a centralised function.
“It became a supremely diverse organisation and gave me a deep respect for how cultural diversity worked.”
After stints working with BP, Bankwest and UWA in Western Australia, Nigel’s career changed trajectory and he entered the consulting world where he has been working for the last six years while based in Queensland.
It was there he reconnected with Keogh CEO Margit Mansfield, who he formerly worked with at Bankwest, and a conversation about bringing their combined experienced together began.
Nigel said he was instantly drawn to Keogh’s value and connection to purpose.
“This absolutely aligns with my own drivers,” he said.
“When I get out of bed in the morning the challenges I like to face are always about people. Projects are really interesting, but they are a means to supporting and helping people.”
“Keogh has depth where they get in and really deeply understand organisations before going in to make changes to them. That respect for research and depth of knowledge aligns with my own, I like to know a company, the organisation and its people well.
“Also, Keogh’s ability to collaborate well and foster the power of knowledge coming from the group, all align beautifully with my own beliefs.”
As well as bringing a wealth of facilitation experience to Keogh, Nigel has also worked with leaders in the highest echelons of the corporate world.
Nigel’s philosophy to both understanding and exemplifying leadership was inspired by the late Nelson Mandela, drawing back to the early days of his career in South Africa around the end of apartheid.
“Mandela’s viewpoint was knowing when to lead from behind and when to lead from the front,” Nigel explains.
“That adaptive style of leadership is particularly crucial.
“Some people are great at charging in, some people are great standing back and helping the group, but it’s actually understanding and applying both skills at the right time that I find really important.
“As is being adaptable, understanding what the needs are and helping people let go of things – these are all the complexities leaders need to navigate when their organisations are undergoing change.”
A recent empty nester now based in Burleigh Heads with his wife Ella, Nigel takes time outside work to enjoy outdoors pursuits, from his love for muscle cars to spending plenty of time in the shed practicing his recycled woodworking craft, which was self-taught during COVID.
“That’s actually a really good leadership lesson for me. I liken it to the woodworking that I do, it’s a journey of 1000 mistakes.
“There are lots of toolbox analogies, but you’ve just got to try things, collaborate, you’ve got to test it out. You’ve got to be safe. You are always learning.”
Nigel commenced with Keogh Consulting on 17 April 2023.