Stacey Kurzendorfer on one of the biggest change initiatives she managed

Change is not an event, it is a process.

Stacey Kurzendorfer

Stacey Kurzendorfer is a multi-lingual Prosci® certified Change Management leader who has found a balance between and among project management, change management and leadership capabilities to lead the people side of change and produce desired results.

She employs an evidence-based practice which capitalises on her own high EQ. Currently the Director of Business Excellence and Change Management (Habtoor Grand Autograph Collection) at Marriott International based in Dubai, Stacey improves and delivers on quality and guest satisfaction initiatives to support customer service and ensure audit compliance at an international level. She is also charged with building change management plans to lead the people side of change.

Past roles include Group Director Quality, Operational Excellence at Emaar Hospitality Group and the Division Head, Programme Management/Operational Excellence at the Sino-British College, University of Shanghai Science and Technology. She holds a number of certifications in change management, six sigma black belt training, business excellence and auditing.


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Introduction to the podcast

We covered a lot in this 63-minute show including :

  • how Stacey made the switch from HR to quality assurance and change management;
  • some of the early hurdles she faced as she transitioned into the change manager role and how she tackled those hurdles;
  • a look at one particular change initiative she headed up, in Colombia, where a Canadian company wanted to bring in a foreign acquisition. We reviewed things like the culture and leadership environment, communication strategies that worked, the stakeholder engagement process, improving team effectiveness and much more.

You have to show results in order to get support – Stacey Kurzendorfer

Don’t miss this part!

If you only have 5 minutes, listen to Stacey’s explanation that while people will want to hear the business messages from their top leaders, they want to hear about the personal impact from their direct managers and supervisors. [46:10]


Listen to the podcast

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Show Notes

  • Stacey’s initial start in HR and the switch to change management [04.30]
  • the one big change initiative that really stood out for Stacey and why
  • she shares stories from both a successful and not so successful change initiative [08.55]
  • clarity of vision – what does this mean? It’s about understanding that change happens not only at the organisational level but also at the individual level [10:34]
  • a closer look at the organisation which ran a successful change initiative – the organisational background, culture and leadership style at play [12:05]
  • one of Stacey’s first challenges – going from learning Spanish for the first time to handling all communications in Spanish [16:10]
  • “It’s important to realise that senior organisational leaders may have key business reasons for the change but employees are listening more to the personal reasons – what’s the impact on me, my family? [17:02]
  • her two biggest challenges were firstly, being largely alone managing this with few resources and secondly, she was just getting started on this path. “If I had a magic wand, I probably would have brought people on board earlier. I was just getting started in quality assurance and there were very few quality management tools available which would have made it easier.” How Stacey resolved these challenges [17:42]
  • how Stacey motivated herself in those early years and kept the momentum going  [19:02]
  • moving from labour relations into quality assurance and change management : the move to re-educate herself. “The jump into change management came along when I began to question why some things didn’t work. The change initiative had to focus not just on the technical side of things but the people side as well” [22:50]
  • why support is really a chicken and egg situation – you have to show results in order to get support. [24:19]
  • Can you embrace radical change with minimal disruption and maximum gain? Is this possible?  [25:33]
  • the particular model or framework Stacey tested and used. “I try not to make it too complicated. The statistical tools were quite complex…. a few key tools like the Pareto chart could be very simple but effective.” [28:18]
  • using feedback intelligently because not every piece of feedback is good. [31:02.]
  • preparing people for change involves the prior step of assessing how ready an organisation really is for change. You need to find out who the key drivers for change are and who is most resistant to the change, to then develop a resistance strategy to manage that [32:27]
  • what the stakeholder engagement process is like and how you need a specific communication strategy for different groups [32:40]
  • the different change roles involved [35:30]
  • how Stacey improved team effectiveness, particular tools used and a review of where blockages are at  [40:03]
  • the communication strategy for managing change :”One message can result in a few different interpretations.”[41:40]
  • the stages of team formation ie storming, norming and performing [42:08]
  • an effective communication strategy should include face to face [43:18]
  • important factors to account for : employee resistance to change, ineffective management of the people side of change and visible focused sponsorship of the change project [47:08]
  • how Stacey typically starts her morning [49:58]
  • how to deal with customer feedback – deciding what should be acted upon and what should be ignored [51:05]
  • tools and apps Stacey uses to manage her work day [52:12]
  • the one book Stacey recommends – Maverick : The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace by Ricardo Semler [55:25]
  • Stacey defines success [57:08]
  • if she could go back in time, this is what Stacey would tell her 20-year old self [58:26]
  • advice to up and coming change professionals [59:16].

Everyday is a balance of analysis and action because you cannot just analyse the whole day. You need to take action to move things forward…. you don’t get paid to analyse, you get paid for producing results – Stacey Kurzendorfer




Maverick By Ricardo Semler

Maverick : The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace
by Ricardo Semler
Available on Amazon







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Related podcast

If you’re new to Change Management, then this podcast featuring Elissa Farrow may be a good one for you to check out. In this episode, we discuss what it takes to deliver successful change programmes.

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