“Customer First, Always!” it’s a Mindset Challenge

How to turn a ‘Perfect Storm’ brewing into a very positive Consumer Experience…


By Heiner Luepertz – Associate | Business Operations Management – June 2017


This is a story about a very positive experience I recently had with an airline reservation centre.

Because of personal circumstances I had to change our holiday flights and I knew it would be difficult because of the days we needed to fly: during the global vacation high-season and the annual ‘expat exodus’ from Dubai at the start of the summer – indeed a perfect storm in the making.

With some foreboding I called the reservation centre. It took around 10 minutes to finally get an Agent on the line, which was too long but….from the moment the Agent picked up the phone, I had one of the most pleasant experiences with a Call Centre.

She was very polite, calm and professional. She provided us with an alternative option exactly on the day we needed to fly. It took 25 minutes to change all bookings including issuing of the new tickets, which I received by email while I was still on the phone with her.

What can we learn for this?

Airline reservation centres handle hundreds of calls every day. Customers are often disappointed, angry, or frustrated because their flights have been cancelled, delayed or they cannot get the desired connections, and as it is human nature to let off steam as soon as we find a willing victim, i.e. the first ‘real’ person they get on the phone when calling a reservation centre.

Airline Call Centre Agents are indeed the ones feeling the heat in these situations. Yet, the person I spoke with, made me feel at ease, comfortable and through her attitude and behavior de-escalated the whole situation within seconds. She clearly had her mind set on solving the problem of her customer in the quickest and most satisfying way.

The customer always comes first, especially in crisis situations. Call Centre Agents can do a lot to make customers feel valued and listened to, certainly when they are given the authority and policies / procedures to make on the spot decisions.

Indeed those ‘spot’ decisions do not always benefit the airline’s bottom-line from a transactional perspective but tend to go a long way in creating, profitable, repeat purchases in the future. Achieving operational excellence by successfully connecting customers with employees, processes and systems to create positive experiences leading to repeat business is what good Business Operations Management is all about.

Click here to contact us if your organization could do with help in this area; we have experts on our team of Associates who have helped organizations successfully steer a ‘Customer First, Always!’ course and are very eager to help your organization achieve it’s Customer Service objectives as well!!

“Coaching in a VUCA World” – Niharika Davar speaks at the World HRD Congress

Niharika Davar – Senior Associate | Human Capital Management – speaks at the Silver Jubilee of the World HRD Congress in Mumbai about executive coaching in an ever more volatile, complex, ambiguous and uncertain environment… and in the process she was recognized as one of the 100 Best Global Coaching leaders by CHRO Asia.

Niharika spoke at the World Coaching Congress, one of the sub-events within the World Human Resource Development Congress (WHRDC) framework, about the challenges leaders are confronted with in a VUCA environment and how leadership coaching should respond.

Indeed the ever increasing levels of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are continuously challenging leaders and managers.

Being aware and understanding this environment and understanding how to handle complexity whilst staying authentic and true to themselves and their leadership styles is key for senior leaders to not only survive but prosper and develop, both as leaders in the organisations they work for but, importantly as individuals in their own right.

The World HRD Congress started 24 years ago. The first edition was held in 1992 and was titled “The great HR Show.” Global HR Leaders from across 13 countries got together to create a global platform to generate unique learning opportunities. There was no internet at that time… the same theme continued for two years. In 1994 the theme changed to Global Managers in Jurassic Park. It was intended to focus on creating learning opportunities to stay relevant.

Over the years the event grew in size and came to be recognised as one of the leading and truly pioneering Human Resources Professionals’ events in the Industry. The aim of the WHRDC is to create a platform to help Human Resources professionals across the world to learn from the leaders and best practices in their field.

The WHRDC for the last 22 years has been presented by Ascent – a brand owned by The Times of India – and 2017 is the year in which it celebrates its silver Jubilee year. The event in February witnessed 208 speakers, 20 Moderators, 90 sessions and award ceremonies. In total 133 Countries participated and over 1400 HR Leaders were part of the silver Jubilee celebrations.

During a successful and well-received event Niharika was also presented with a 100 Best Global Coaches award by CHRO Asia in recognition of her work and leadership role in the field.

Niharika WHRDC award_resized

The Accelerate Evolution team congratulates Niharika on this momentous occasion.

If you wish to learn more about Niharika and the Accelerate Evolution team and how we could assist you or your organisation with its executive and leadership coaching requirements please click here to read about our service offering or here to contact us directly via e-mail.


Niharika Davar | Associate

Niharika specializes in all aspects of Human Capital Management including HR Strategy, Organisation Design, Change Management, Leadership Development, Talent & Performance Management and HR Policies and Processes. She is also a qualified and experienced Executive Coach.

Niharika has over 30 years of international experience in leadership roles with multinationals across a variety of business sectors and geographies including MENA and APAC. She has served on management boards at country and Regional levels for DHL and Royal Dutch Shell.

Niharika has a proven track record of successfully enabling organisations to set up and implement best in class people processes and practices to significantly improve organizational effectiveness. She has coached leaders and high potential individuals at various levels, helping them to realize their full potential. Her insight and ability to analyse and develop innovative tailor-made solutions has enabled her to adapt global best practices for highest impact.

Niharika has a deep understanding of human behavior and the key drivers of motivation, employee engagement and high performance as also the correlation of people processes with organizational effectiveness.

She now applies her expertise to design and deliver bespoke high impact solutions to address specific client needs. Her mission is to support organisations to design and implement people processes that enable people to be the best that they can be and have a direct impact on business results.

Holder of a post-graduate certificate in Business & Personal Coaching from the UK, she is also a Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centred Coach & Global Leader of the Future Assessor and an ICF Associate Certified Coach.

She is trained in Hogan Assessment Tools, Cubiks 360 feedback and holds certificates from DPDHL as a Change Management practitioner and Six Sigma and LEAN practitioner as well as a Graduate and Experienced Hire Assessor certification from Royal Dutch Shell.

Niharika has won several awards and honors for thought leadership in Human Resources.

Human Capital Management

Human Capital Management 

“Maximizing organizational performance through effective people management”


Getting the right people in the right roles working effectively together is a top priority for business leaders in all industries and geographies. Our deep experience and focus on business outcomes helps clients meet this challenge and turn talent into a source of competitive advantage.

We help clients shape their Human Capital strategies to align with business needs, develop great leaders at all levels, and build an excellent HR function.

Whether it’s your organizational structure that’s aligned to a clear HR strategy, or 360 degree assessments that can enhance your company culture, we understand the many challenges and opportunities ahead.

Our core solutions are offered in the key areas of:

  • * Executive Coaching
  • * Organisation Design
  • * HR Strategy, Policies & Procedures
  • * Organisation Development and Change Management
  • * Leadership Development
  • * Talent Management
  • * Learning & Development
  • * Performance Management
  • * Building HR capability


Click here to contact us to find out more about our Human Capital Management solutions.

Steen Nielsen | Associate (Alum)

Steen is a dedicated and results-driven finance professional with hands-on experience in finance, M&A, change management, process improvement, project management, compliance and other general administration functions.

Focused on delivering work of the highest professional standards Steen works to ensure that the long and short term strategic and financial goals of a company are met. He possesses excellent business communication skills and can consult with influence at all levels.

Extensive healthcare business experience has shaped a true finance and operations specialist, who started more than 25 years ago as an auditor at PwC in Denmark. Being a true metropolitan and global citizen, Steen has held positions in Europe, the Middle East, UK, Japan, Korea and China.

After 8 years at PwC, Steen took up a Financial Controller position at FLSmidth overseeing large engineering projects in Brazil, Spain, and Indonesia.

Subsequently Steen Nielsen worked 11 years at Coloplast, initially 8 years as Business Support Director for Japan & Asia Pacific where he oversaw several optimization and ERP projects focused on improving profitability. One of Steen’s largest accomplishments at Coloplast was delivering a distribution project entailing centralization of 10 logistics centers.

Prior to exploring a career in interim management, Steen was CFO of Smith & Nephew’s Emerging Market division in UAE where he led the financial due diligence – as well as the post-acquisition integration – of entities in India and Turkey. He also partnered on a growth business case in Saudi Arabia that entailed doubling ground staff in Saudi Arabia as well as improving warehousing solutions.

At the company’s request Steen subsequently moved to China. The purpose was to build backbone processes to ensure that the significant growth in the country was supported by sustainable business systems and practices. This included optimization of the ordering processes thereby significantly improving product supply (from 80% to 99% On time in full – OTIF).

Steen’s interim management career began over two years ago and he has since held interim finance positions at Terumo in Dubai, UAE at BSN Medical in Tokyo, Japan. At Terumo Dubai, the main change was the closure of the warehouse operations with transfer of processes to Terumo’s Regional Distribution Center in Belgium. At BSN Medical Tokyo the project encompassed setup of all business processes, including 3PL warehousing and SAP integration. Both these assignments were extended to 1 year following successful execution of the respective initial assignments.

He has most recently been engaged on an Interim basis with a medical devices organization in Seoul, Korea.

Steen holds a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (Finance Management) which has been supplemented with an Executive MBA from Insead.

Having been on a semi-full-time interim management assignment in South Korea for over 2 years Steen left Accelerate Evolution at the beginning of 2019 – he remains a member of the Accelerate Evolution Alumni group.

Umang Khan | Associate (Alum)

Umang is a passionate supply chain professional who excels at analytics and project delivery.

With over 15 years of experience in pharmaceuticals, fast moving consumer goods and food & beverage retail, she has worked in different areas of supply chain management ranging from supply & demand planning to logistics, distribution center & customer service management.

Umang has successfully led a number of supply chain projects in her career. Most recently as a Program Manager for Procter & Gamble in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan region, she was responsible for overseeing and delivering all new launches in the Hair Care category.

Prior to her role as Product Launch Program Manager, she served in various supply chain project management roles in the region. Her key achievements include the delivery of a robust S&OP process, the successful implementation of a complex warehousing consolidation project transitioning from an in-house owned, dispersed warehousing network to a 3PL managed large scale, centrally located regional Distribution Center.

She was also actively involved with the training and onboarding of major retail cash & carry customers into the P&G supply chain and she was the supply chain lead for one of the biggest distributor transition projects P&G has undertaken in the MENAP region.

Prior to moving to the region she was with P&G in Pakistan where, in addition to her operational role as the supply chain lead, she led a large scale SAP implementation project. Before joining P&G she worked for GSK in the Consumer Health division.

Umang is passionate about Supply Chain Leadership and Development and during her career she has designed and delivered several training programs for both entry-level staff as well as middle and senior management. Umang herself holds an MBA in Management Information Systems and Finance.

She has a proven ability to move quickly from a high level assessment of a complex and challenging situation to the development and rapid implementation of solutions. This, coupled with her organizational agility as well as cultural awareness and adaptability makes Umang a valuable and sought-after supply chain management consultant.

When she is not out there helping organizations to develop supply chain capabilities she is either spending quality time with her 4-year old, travelling the world, reading, or cooking – Umang is also an emerging entrepreneur; together with her husband she owns a successful restaurant business in Dubai.

In 2018, after successfully participating in a number of projects at Accelerate Evolution Umang left Accelerate Evolution and joined a Dubai based consumer goods manufacturing company as their S&OP lead – she remains an active member of the Accelerate Evolution Alumni group.

Brian Cartwright | Associate

An expert in the strategic sourcing and development of talent Brian actively deploys his wealth of knowledge and his intensive network of business connections across the Middle East, Africa, and Europe to not only work with senior individuals to enhance their careers and professional networks but he also actively supports the commercial development of new and existing business relationships, start-up businesses and established players.

Brian is the founder and Managing Director of the Top Management Resources Group. He has been actively involved in supporting individuals and organisations in the MEA region for close to 10 years and has specifically focused on the global Supply Chain and Logistics sector for the past 15 years.

Brian is a regular contributor to thought leadership in the field of leadership and executive management. He is a freelance writer for various Supply Chain & Logistics industry media and he is an accomplished blogger at www.ThePeopleSupplyChain.com, for whom he also runs a successful weekly online Supply Chain newsletter www.SupplyChainYOU.com.

He administrates and manages the highly successful LinkedIn ‘Supply & Logistics – Top Management’ Group series and he is frequently involved in the organization of high profile Supply Chain & Logistics events and conferences across the EMEA region.

Brian is an avid and experienced motorcyclist and former motorcycling instructor. He is also the founder of the RIDE SAFE UAE motorcycle safety awareness program launched in 2016.

Alan Gordon | Associate Partner

Alan is highly regarded as a marketing and communications expert and academic thought-leader providing brand marketing, communications and customer experience strategies and solutions to Sovereign Owned Entities in the Middle East and major international brands on a global scale. Having been based 20 years in Dubai, his work has taken him across the Middle East, Europe, USA, South Africa and Australia. This combination of ‘International Expertise with Local Knowledge’ allows for a unique level of ‘Cultural Awareness’ within the marketing business arena.

Previously Alan was Head of Marketing for Majid Al Futtaim Communities Business Unit, over-seeing the marketing strategy for their 5 million sqm portfolio of mixed-use development projects in UAE, Beirut and Oman.

Prior to that he led a consultancy practice advising the private and public sector on marketing strategies to enhance their business needs. On behalf of his clients he also recruited marketing personnel and sourced external service providers both internationally and regionally.

His previous role as the Executive Director of Marketing and Communications in one of Abu Dhabi’s government development organizations, the Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), saw him leading annual marketing budgets of US $ 50 million for major award-winning destinations. These included the 27 sqkm Saadiyat Island, the Desert Islands, the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum amongst other commercial, leisure, hospitality and residential products.

During his professional career of more than 25 years he was also GM Group Marketing, where he was responsible for steering the Group Marketing and Communications, of the Al Futtaim Group, one of the foremost trading companies in the Gulf. Additionally, during this tenure with Al Futtaim he also managed the internal 100 team-member strong advertising agency where he spearheaded brands such as Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Hertz, IKEA, M&S, Panasonic and ‘Dubai Festival City’, achieving record profits for the agency within the first year.

As General Manager, Alan oversaw the Dubai Shopping Festival’s ‘Global Village’, a major family outdoor cultural and entertainment destination, from 2002-04, where his team’s efforts led to a record attendance of over 5.3 million visitors within the 30-day period, resulting in a recognition award from the DSF.

His experience is supported through extensive training courses with thought-leaders including Jack Welch, Dr. Stephen Covey, Jim Collins and Ron Kaufman.

Alan is a member of, and qualified with, the Chartered Institute of Marketing and also holds a BA (Hons) degree in Design and Communication. He is also a Marketing Lecturer and Honorary Chairman of the EMDI Institute of Media and Communications in Knowledge Village, Dubai.

Commercial Operations Management

Commercial Operations Management

“Achieving commercial excellence by assisting Clients to unify marketing and sales activities”


Commercial Operations Management (COM) is the alignment of people, process and technology to support commercial activities and improve sales, innovation and marketing effectiveness.

At a high level we, together with our Clients, drive for Commercial Excellence by injecting relevant and appropriately experienced professionals to provide additional bandwidth in times of heightened commercial activity. Our Associates support organizations who have immediate COM requirements to assist them to define their commercial strategy and the overall development of their organization.

We typically get involved in activities relating to product marketing, sales, product development and customer service aimed at driving immediate but sustainable business growth ultimately resulting in increased market share.

A selection of our specialty areas of expertise in Commercial Operations Management include:

Commercial Operations Management (Interim)

  • * Sales Management
  • * Business Development
  • * Key Account Management


Advisory & Project Support

  • * Business Development Lifecycle Planning
  • * Market Research – Customer Segmentation & Structure
  • * Commercial Excellence Program Development
  • * Customer Value Analysis – Channel & End Consumer
  • * Sales Force Effectiveness
  • * Sales Pipeline Management
  • * Sales Opportunity Evaluation
  • * Bid Management & RFQ / Tender Support
  • * Product Segmentation & Portfolio Management
  • * CRM System Deployment & Integration
  • * Change Management – Project Lead & SME
  • * Acquisition/Purchasing Planning Support


Click here to contact us to discuss your Commercial Operations Management requirements.

Charles Chirchir | Associate

Charles is a senior IT strategy and services professional with broad experience in the pharmaceutical industry in technical and governance roles. He connects with people, challenges current ways of working and develops strategies aligned to evolving business requirements and the changing technology landscape.

Most recently he was accountable for Global IT Application Services for the Middle East and Africa Region at a large British multinational organization. In this diverse region, he achieved the service goals to the business of agility and continuity within constraints of quality and budget by adopting industry practises in the management of local and virtual resources in use across the region.

Having a passion for solutions and services that enable desired business outcomes, Charles has hands on experience in the successful delivery of transformational initiatives within the Pharmaceutical, FMCG, Manufacturing and Corporate divisions in the organization. These include CERP/MERP, Business Intelligence and Analytics, Supply Chain and Customer Engagement solutions.

Most recently he was instrumental in the design, build and deployment of a host application agnostic platform for Forensic Data Analysis enabling significant enhancement of Corporate Compliance Monitoring and Reporting for senior executives in a large multinational business enterprise.

Charles’ inclusive and decisive style of leadership with a strong belief in a positive and supportive approach in an engagement, complemented by his depth of experience enables him to extend the use of emerging technologies to create novel and efficient ways to deliver IT services.

Charles has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Nairobi in Kenya and a Master of Science degree in Computing Sciences from the University of Alberta in Canada.

Professionally, he attained the pertinent industry certification of ITIL Expert, he is certified in IS0 2000 Service Management as a Consultant, is a Six Sigma Green Belt and certified in Governance of Enterprise IT, CGEIT,  by ISACA.