PODCAST: Strategic Planning – FSG Expert Interview Part 1 of 2

Cécile Bernheim, a well-versed and experienced strategic business planning expert, provided some key insight to developing cross-functional strategic plans that position companies for cohesive success.  Frontier Strategy Group CEO Rich Leggett recently chatted with Cécile to gain further advice on building successful plans in FSG’s Emerging Markets Insights Podcast Series.  The conversation was so fruitful and opulent with content this will be a two-part post with the  first half concentrated on the strategic planning side of the conservation and the second half more focused on portfolio management and client segmentation for business.

As with any corporate initiative, it’s important for strategic planning to be very organized and well-disciplined in order to be successful; a notion Cécile firmly stands behind.  Any company can have a well-structured hierarchy of function and responsibility, but the critical element in any structure is communication and necessary integration among company levels.  Cécile attributes a lot of the organizational success to the cross-functionality and communication of teams.  Cécile attributed her team’s success to, “the integration of planning among all three levels of the company.  The whole organization was well-aligned on the same strategic framework and was then able to adapt their strategic framework to local specificities.” In other words, they were empowered local teams but aligned with global strategy – each region had their must-win battles but all working towards the same global goal. Cécile continued, “I tried to make sure all strategic plans were cross-functional as a holistic response to a situation and strategy that was decided.”

Because the majority of FSG’s clients operate a business portfolio over both developed and developing markets, we often hear that the strategic planning proves more difficult in developing countries due to the rapid pace of change, volatility and unexpected events.   Therefore, it’s important to note two differentiating factors: processcontent.  From a process point of view, adding long-term strategic framework and annual global plans should remain somewhat similar between developing and developed regions, at least as far as the process is concerned. The content, on the other hand, will certainly vary based on the level of adaption by country.  Strategic plans, according to Cécile, need to be flexible in order to adapt so every annual plan allows enough room to balance, or re-balance, throughout the year.  Cécile mentioned that one of her key learnings was to develop and implement adaptable tools to assist efficient portfolio management.  This allows the function of the tool to remain the same, but easily reworked to use different sets of data to providing a new output for a different region.

“Strategic planning is not just one person sitting in an office making strategy on their own. Truly good strategic planning and portfolio management is the product of cross-functional initiatives that are discussed with local and regional teams so that they can recognize the data – ensure senior management is on board and of course, explain, explain, and explain the process and the benefits. At the same time, depending on organizational limits, give the regions sufficient freedoms.” – Cécile Bernheim

Perhaps that’s a lesson all global strategy planners can use: global alignment with local autonomy – using flexible tools so that they can be used at different levels of the organization.  Look for further discussion on portfolio management and client segmentation in a subsequent blog post derived from the insightful Podcast with Cécile.

For the full discussion, click on this link to access the iTunes store.


Frontier Strategy Group is pleased to introduce Cécile Bernheim as one of the newest members in FSG’s Expert Advisors Network.  Cécile brings over 20 years of experience from The Coca-Cola Company in Europe where she was the former Strategy and Business Planning Director, as well as other roles varying from general management, strategy and commercial.  Cécile is a senior business executive with solid blue-chip fast-moving consumer goods background and international experience in highly competitive and changing environments.  Prior to Coca-Cola, Cécile was a strategy consultant at Bain.  Cecile started her career in R&D in the Pharma industry and is also a qualified pharmacist and biologist and holds an MBA from IMD in Lausanne.

Cécile is available to FSG clients for consultation and her key areas of expertise are technical processes related to customer management, sales and marketing, strategic planning, as well as anything that’s related to B2B or B2C functions in an international setting.  Furthermore, Cécile has a great understanding of the dynamics between corporate and regional business units and fostering cross-functional collaborations to streamline business and communication.  Please contact your account manager for further information or contact us at sales@frontierstrategygroup.com.





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