Paul Birch possesses a deep working knowledge of the complexities of corporate management at all levels and a passion for creating both organisational innovation and business cost effectiveness. From baggage handling, innovating systems to meet regulation, to market tactics and strategies, mergers and acquisitions to Head of Business Planning. He has done it all.
Paul was instrumental in the 1990s turnaround of BA’s culture. He helped develop the BA brand when at its very best, as well as taking a billion pounds out of the five billion cost base – astonishingly without incurring any industrial action.
His most innovative role, created in conjunction with the Chief Executive, was that of Corporate Jester – a bold step that allowed him to challenge the complacency and out-of-touch world that can exist at the top of any large organisation. The role was a great success, with the side-effect of generating hugely positive media coverage for BA, leading to job applications which said that any company that employed a jester sounded like a great place to work!
Whether co-ordinating a team of consultants and merchant bankers to secure an investment in USAir, forecasting fuel pricing for the airline, helping to develop Club World, or negotiating rosters with union officials, his approach at BA was led by his belief in the innate capacity for people to think innovatively and creatively together, and find winning solutions.
This wealth of practical experience is now carried into his current advisory work. His client portfolio and sectoral work is as broad as his experiences within aviation, but with one thing in common: organisations whose people need to “think differently” – about a project, an operational issue, a leadership culture, a change programme. He combines warmth and humour with provocation and challenge. His advisory work within transport and energy sectors began with the strategy group of Eastern Electric (who became Texas Utilities), who were preparing for their negotiations with the regulator.
Topics most regularly requested include: how to foster creativity and innovation; leadership in times of profound change; creating ultimate customer service; and working towards win/win. He regularly chairs or facilitates whole conferences, and offers conference workshops in creativity techniques and facilitation skills alongside his role as speaker.
Paul’s clients have included Unilever, Future Publishing, Time Warner, Defra, The National Trust, The Audit Commission, British Gypsum, Marks and Spencer and Royal Dutch Shell, Transport for London, TNT, Cargo, and Debenhams. Much of his work has been focussed on developing safety standards against a backdrop of diminishing budgets through innovative practices. He has also worked with smaller organisations, the public and the third sector, often in a gift work capacity. Paul has lectured extensively to MBA students across the country, and written nine books on creativity, leadership and change in business.