Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Uumm....Christopher Bailey errs his way into the top job at Burberry

Burberry took the unusual step today of announcing the departure of its chief executive by posting an interview with both its out-going boss Angela Ahrendts and her successor Christopher Bailey on the internet. 

In a multimedia world this is probably a taste of things to come but was it a good idea? 

First impressions from this Presentation Skills coach is 'no'. The whole situation - which saw the company's chairman conducting an 'interview' inevitably felt a little fake. And while Angela Ahrendts came over as just a little too self assured and full of standard messages, Christopher Bailey looked like a complete novice. In the 120.34 seconds that he spoke he said "er" or "umm" 37 times; that's once every 3.24 seconds!  

Now, when I am coaching business executives with this problem I explain that the main reason is that they don't know what they are going to say. I am all for an open, natural approach but why did Burberry put out a pre-recorded video of its incoming chief executive looking nervous and like he doesn't know what he is saying? 

Polish issues aside, the trouble is that it serves to exacerbate many of the awkward questions that the announcement has thrown up, including: why has the super-successful Ahrendts moved to a lesser position, even if it is at Apple?; did Bailey threaten to leave if he didn't get the top job?; is he capable of doing that job?; even if he is, can he really combine it with creative duties?

Have a look and judge for yourself - below if you can see the screen - or via this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNPrdIvCnJk

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