Interview to Neil Janin – Senior Partner Emeritus at McKinsey & Company

Chair and Non-Executive Director of BGEO Group PLC from October 2011 until 21 May 2018 and of Bank of Georgia Group PLC from February 2018 until March 2022

Let’s start by talking about the situation at your bank before you implemented Cocrea. What were the biggest challenges and goals you were facing?

We recognized that our traditional hierarchical structure wasn’t ideal for the kind of agility and innovation we needed. We wanted to empower employees and create a more open, collaborative culture. The challenge was getting buy-in for this shift, especially from senior leadership. There was a natural fear of change, and I worried about being seen as naive for proposing something new and “soft”.

How did your experience with COCREA begin?

I started by suggesting the CEO participate in a leadership development program focused on fostering better communication and collaboration within the organization. Thankfully, he was receptive to feedback, which opened the door to exploring Cocrea more broadly. Without his open mindedness and desire to learn, the idea would have been a nonstarter. What is most important is to remember that this is a multi-year effort and that the present CEO is also very committed to personal growth and learning. He expanded our efforts to change the culture.

What kind of changes have you seen in your bank’s culture since implementing COCREA?

The shift has been remarkable. The organization is much more fluid and energetic now. People feel comfortable sharing ideas, and we’re seeing a lot more proactiveness, which has been critical for our digital transformation efforts. Overall, we’re more adaptable and performant.

Can you share some concrete examples of how COCREA has impacted your team?

One of the biggest things has been the feedback sessions. They’ve helped our executive team build trust and become more collaborative, which has had a ripple effect throughout the organization. It’s been truly rewarding to see how Cocrea has brought us closer together and improved the overall work environment.

How have employees reacted to the new practices?

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. People appreciate the open communication and feel more empowered to contribute. It’s been gratifying to hear how these changes have made a positive difference in both their professional and personal lives. We have seen the changes by the amazing improvements in employee satisfaction surveys.

How about stakeholders and clients? How have they responded to the changes?

They’ve definitely noticed a difference. Our improved efficiency and responsiveness have led to stronger relationships. Again, client surveys prove that clients noticed.  Cocrea has played a key role in enhancing our reputation and overall performance.

In your opinion, how has COCREA influenced your bank’s long-term strategy?

The emphasis on continuous learning and open communication has become a cornerstone of the strategy. The Bank is now better equipped to handle challenges and adapt to change. It’s helped us define and pursue our long-term goals in a more strategic way.

What are your plans for continuing to build on the success you’ve had with COCREA?

We’re committed to continuous improvement. We’ll keep implementing the Cocrea principles and expand the program to involve more employees at all levels. This will ensure that the positive changes we’ve seen continue to flourish.

If you could summarize the value COCREA has brought to your organization in one sentence, what would it be?

Cocrea has transformed the Bank’s culture, making it more collaborative, agile, and responsive to the ever-changing environment we operate in.

Do you have any advice for other leaders considering adopting COCREA?

If you’re open to learning and willing to embrace change, Cocrea is an excellent program. It goes beyond traditional leadership training, fostering deeper connections and a more engaged workforce. The benefits are truly transformative.