Speed in Business Has Never Been Greater
Companies learned during the pandemic that they could shift and adapt quickly to rapidly changing business environments. As more companies adopt these quick-pivot strategies into their everyday practices, agility has become more important than ever before.
Thanks to globalization, digitization, and automation, the speed at which critical decisions must be made is accelerating and showing no signs of slowing down. At the same time, new remote and hybrid models of working brought on by the pandemic have thrown the traditional corporate environment out the window. To succeed in this new, more complex, and often ambiguous world requires embracing agility at scale.
The challenge is particularly acute for companies looking to scale up their business and grow — and to achieve that requires empowering people at every level to make the best possible decisions. It is a shift we went through at Transurban North America, as we grew from an agile, small market supported by a global transportation company to one capable of meeting growth expectations across North America.
By understanding what matters to our stakeholders, we create road transport solutions that make us a partner of choice. That success has quadrupled our footprint in North American over the last decade as we steadily deliver new projects in the public-private partnership tolling sector. What was a team of tens is now a team of hundreds and with that has come an intentional shift to a method of working that effectively deploys our time and talent in the best places, while retaining that vital agility and market independence.
Scaling Up for Nimble Decision Making
We made a series of strategic choices to prioritize our most important asset: our people.
The current environment has been described by McKinsey as simultaneously the best and worst of times for decision makers: a wealth of data, sophisticated analytics, and a better understanding of how to make optimal corporate decisions, but growing frustration among managers of slower decision-making processes.
We have addressed this by consolidating leadership, increasing scope of responsibilities, and aligning similar capabilities and functions to create scale, drive efficiencies, and reduce redundancies. A 2021 Gartner survey found that 65 percent of decisions are more complex than they were just two years previously, highlighting the need to reconsider the decision-making process. By giving our leaders broader responsibilities, they understand the impact a decision will make and know the wider context that decision is being made in.
Next we have made organization realignments that empower decision making accountability at each managerial level. In a more agile business world, success relies on teams or individuals having a degree of autonomy and the capability to make decisions on their own. The lack of autonomy is often an innovation killer: in many organizations, only 21 percent of people believe their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.
The need for speed in our business has never been greater as we work across three international markets to finance, construct, and operate billions in multi-jurisdictional, high-tech roadways.
Enterprise Access and Accountability
Transurban has also prioritized preparing and developing talent to have an enterprise view. My own experience at Transurban reflects this investment. I started here just over six years ago as the director of human resources, and very quickly became involved in all parts of the business. My role shifted from purely HR to serve as a hybrid HR director and support/advisor to the company president, with a focus on how to get the business to scale, with me taking on the title of vice president of people and culture in 2018.
Throughout my time at Transurban, I have had an opportunity to dive deep into the business, beyond the traditional HR or people and culture role to serve in an advisory capacity. At one point, I assumed responsibility for our U.S. customer experience function and have continued, over the years, to build my knowledge of our business beyond the usual HR remit. Transurban has leveraged my broader experience and enterprise view, putting it to work in an expanded capacity to include people and culture and public affairs, including environmental, social, and governance responsibilities.
The evolution of my responsibilities and areas of expertise at Transurban reflects the direction the company is moving in, by getting the right people in the right place to do their best work. Taking the actions to consolidate, empower, and strengthen enterprise access to our business functions has put us in a better position to realize the growth opportunities ahead for Transurban in North America.
Deborah Rosenberg has over 20 years experience working in HR strategy, organization development, and change management. At Transurban, Debbie leads the People and Culture team in North America, where she is responsible for advancing the business in the areas of organization development and change; talent management and succession planning; diversity, equity and inclusion; and HR operational management. In 2020, Debbie served as interim Acting VP – Customer Experience where she was accountable for customer and tolling operations activities, digital product development and execution, and the successful launch of a new program targeted at reducing customer violations on Transurban’s US assets.