The CEO ABC Q and A with Tanya Hulse

As published in the July issue of Skyways Magazine 



1.       Added Value: What do you do for fun?

a.       My weekends are usually taken up with my kids’ social lives and all the errands that didn’t get done during the week!  But when we have the opportunity, a scuba dive to check out the sharks on Aliwal Shoal ranks highly, as does time in the bush.

2.       Aspirational Brand: Who were your heroes or mentors coming up through the ranks?

a.       I have had the privilege of working in organisations led by phenomenal South African leaders such as the late Graham McKay of SAB. I am also inspired by stories of success from women leaders locally and around the globe – like Maria Ramos, Angela Merckel, and Aung San Suu Kyi.

3.       Auditor: Who keeps you grounded?

a.       My family, specifically my husband but also my kids – ten- and eight-year-old girls can be very frank with their feedback!


1.       Bookkeeping: What are you reading?

a.       Work-wise I’m busy with Art Byrne’s seminal book, ‘The Lean Turnaround’.  On the personal side I’m really enjoying the latest work from a fantastic African author, Ekow Duker, called ‘The God Who Made Mistakes’.

2.       Brain Drain: What behaviours in others really annoy you?

a.       Over-promising and under-delivering – especially when combined with poor communication.

3.       Buzzword: What is the latest fad, gadget or trend that you’re enjoying?

a.       Given my previous career with SAB, perhaps it’s no surprise that I love the growth in craft brewing – South Africa is fast catching up with the rest of the world and we are already blessed with some incredibly skilled and inventive craft brewers.


1.       Cafeteria: What is your favourite restaurant?

a.       Rejoice, in Bryanston, offers both the standard sushi options and some more unusual variants, and is both delicious and very affordable.

2.       Carbon Credit: Which environmentally friendly practices do you personally endorse?

a.       Waste recycling, energy efficient alternatives such as LED and solar, and use of webinar meeting technologies to limit unnecessary travel.

3.       Consumer Price Index: What luxury items are worth spending money on?

a.       I tend not to splurge on luxury items, though do make an exception for great family experiences on vacations.  Our most recent ‘luxury’ purchase is a Lego Mindstorms EV3, which we justified to ourselves on the basis that it allows my kids to learn valuable problem-solving and creative skills while having a ball.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Why Customer Experience is harder than you think – even though you know it’s vital for your business.

In the last few months, I seem to have become something of a magnet for poor customer service. And this isn’t just from the local panel beater or dry cleaner where you might expect this from a poorly trained staff member. In fact some of my worst experiences are from large corporate firms, where everything you see in their advertising aims to reflect them as offering personalised, delightful services and products to beaming, grateful consumers. From repeated mistakes on a home loan application to waiting six weeks for a new credit card to be issued and sending multiple emails to update an email address are just some of the examples of the poor customer service I have experienced recently. Am I being unreasonable to assume that, once things start to go wrong – as can happen even with well-designed business processes and well-trained staff – there should be a mechanism in place to ensure the problem is resolved without the customer (me) having to be the one to make daily follow-up phone calls or escalate problems repeatedly.

I’m sure no business deliberately sets out to provide a frustrating customer experience, at least not a business that genuinely wants to grow market share and be sustainably profitable in a competitive environment. Often it is unintended – I recall a conversation I had with the genial Mark Rayner, CEO of MultiChoice, about the continual changes in policy around some of the DSTv offerings. Mark shared the difficulties they face, where policy changes are implemented to prevent fraudulent use of their products. This challenge unfortunately then impacts directly on their valued customers too, which was something they were grappling with. Unfortunately this insight is not then shared by the call centre agent who’s reading from a standard set of scripts.

I wondered if I am just particularly aware of the impact of customer experiences? It is after all at the heart of the methodologies we use in our own business, Training Leadership Consulting (TLC). The ‘Voice of the Customer’ is a critical initial input into any business improvement process, and we spend time understanding this for our clients in businesses as diverse as insurance, construction, manufacturing and agriculture.

Deciding that it was time I got more insight from a deep expert in the field, I spoke to Michelle Hill of Delight Consulting, one of TLC’s affiliates. Michelle is a Customer Experience Management expert who is passionate about the topic, and has great stories and insights to share.

Her first step was to classify me into one of four archetypes of customers – an Analyst / Driver (see figure below).

Social Style What do we want as customers?


Details, all of the details! We like organisation, structure and all of the facts


We like to win. We are competitive, decisive and want solutions right now
Amiable We enjoy relationships with others, getting to know others, speaking about families and friends. We do not enjoy conflict at all!
Expressive We are creative, outgoing and enthusiastic. We may exaggerate at times, but are typically spontaneous


Source: Merrill, D. W. and Reid, R. H. (1999)

I wasn’t sure if I liked this or not, as it certainly sounded as though it confirmed my status as a tetchy, difficult person to deal with! But as Michelle pointed out, a large proportion of business owners and executive managers are exactly this type of customer, and in fact while they may be quick to flag their displeasure, they do tend to be very clear on exactly what they expect, and what needs to be done to fix a problem. So in that regard, meeting or exceeding their expectations should be straightforward. (I felt a bit better after that).

Michelle also shared another vital insight. “It can be really hard for people working within a business to understand what a customer might experience difficulty with, and why. When you’ve set up the four options in a Call centre menu, or created the company website, it’s all perfectly clear to you. It may not occur to you that the customer doesn’t use the same terminology for: a specific service (particularly where English often isn’t a customer’s first language), or to predict exactly what issues or questions a customer may be grappling with.”

I mulled this over for a bit before she continued. “We use a technique called ‘Customer Journey Mapping’ to help companies understand what it’s really like to be one of their customers. Usually, it’s eye-opening for them. I love seeing their reactions when I play them a recording of someone phoning in to their own call centre, for example. Even better, is when I give them a query to phone in live to their call centre themselves – those experiences can be priceless, when they get put on hold with elevator music or find themselves getting cut off repeatedly! The benefit that’s gained, though, is in being able to improve the processes so that customers truly have great experiences – that’s even more valuable to a business, especially considering the tough economic climate we operate in.”

So what should I do the next time I find myself wanting to tear my hair out over yet another bad experience with a company where I’d really expected better? Other than escalating it to the Complaints department, I guess I could send them details on the Customer Experience Management programme to help them look at their business processes from their customer’s perspective!


Author: Tanya Hulse (TLC Managing Director)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Support your B-BBEE strategy with our Internship


Training Leadership Consulting (TLC) in partnership with Delight Consulting invites you to join our Customer Experience Management (CEM) Internship programme starting on the 20th July 2017 in Durban.  Facilitated by our CEM expert, Michelle Hill from Delight Consulting, this Internship includes 4 separate days of practical classroom training, an action learning project, coaching and international accreditation.

What is an Internship?

An internship is a programme that is run by an accredited institution. It is aimed at existing employees and includes an internship contract, theoretical training, workplace application, coaching and an assessment to achieve the certification.

What are the benefits for your company? 

The learner salaries count towards the skills development training spend. You will achieve points for training employed and unemployed people on the category B skills matrix. Our Internships enable you to maximise your B-BBEE scorecard, develop people and solve problems at the same time.  Learners will receive a level 4 international qualification.

We believe there are many QSE’s or smaller Generic businesses who need to undertake Category B, C, or D learning programmes, but don’t have sufficient numbers to make a company-specific programme cost-effective. They need to find suitable open internship programmes that can develop their people, while at the same time enabling them to focus on keeping customers satisfied, and also making progress on their B-BBEE strategies.

Why Customer experience?

An unhappy customer is able to share their negative experience with hundreds and thousands of people. One cannot afford to be complacent. This exciting programme will help you grow your customer base, increase your loyalty and exceed customer expectations by helping you recognise the role of emotions, behaviours and understand different customer personalities. You will learn how to identify if a customer complaint is linked to a process, system or people issue.

Michelle HillMichelle has won numerous international awards. Her execution of this customer-centric journey has spanned Southern Africa, navigating cultural differences. She has presented on customer experience locally and internationally as well as guest lectured at universities. Her passion is to challenge leaders and embrace customer experience. She believes in the key question: “How would you feel if you had the same experience?”

Space is limited. To book email

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“5S a Gateway to Lean” PCB Lean forum 16 May 2017

Join us at our next Lean forum and learn about 5S through an interactive activity, followed by a practical example that includes tips on how to accelerate your Lean transformation. See the benefits of Lean driving productivity improvements and reducing cost.

Grant Davis, Business Improvement Manager at TLC will facilitate this session and share his industry experience with 5S and Lean in the services and manufacturing environments.

Facilitator: pcb-logoGrant Davis

Business Improvement Manager

Training Leadership Consulting (TLC)

DATE:  16 May 2017

TIME:  17:00 pm

VENUE:  Chamber House, Royal Showgrounds Pietermaritzburg

About Grant:

Grant is based at TLC’s Head Office in South Africa and has managed high-pressure, fast-paced, highly sensitive projects in business improvement, Lean turnarounds and company mergers. He has worked at TLC for over 6 years in multiple industries assisting companies and leaders in their business improvement journey.

Grant is a highly experienced trainer and facilitator. He has trained and coached Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Green Belt, Lean and Design for Six Sigma. His industry experience includes Finance, Insurance, Banking, Manufacturing, Logistics, Oil, Aviation, Agriculture, Education, Textile, Energy and Telecommunications.

To Book your seat email:

Posted in Business Improvement, Continuous Improvement, Process Mapping | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learn how to create a process map at the PCB Lean forum 7 March 2017

pcb-logoPCB LEAN FORUM ~ 7 March 2017

“One picture is worth a thousand words”

Process mapping is a workflow diagram that enables you to analyse ‘as-is’ business processes and procedures. It helps you to identify and document processes, recognise inefficiencies and performance gaps so you can create the ‘to-be’ streamlined future state.  This is a Lean tool used to standardise and stabilise business processes which can be measured and managed for productivity improvement.


1. Identify process steps, decisions and documents required in your process

2. Determine process users and assign process steps in swim lanes

3. Conduct a value/non-value add analysis (what is your customer willing to pay for?)

Join us for a fun practical session at the next Lean Forum.


Martin Ost

Lean Consultant, Training Leadership Consulting (TLC)

DATE:  7 March 2017

TIME:  17:00 pm

VENUE:  Chamber House, Royal Showgrounds

About Martin:

Martin Ost is a Lean Coach and Consultant with TLC. He works with both shop-floor and management in the deployment of Lean, applying problem solving methodologies to identify root causes, implementing sustainable solutions and conducting training on business improvement concepts. Martin previously worked for Toyota South Africa Motors with various local and Japanese master trainers. He is originally from Germany and has lived in South Africa for 19 years.

To Book your seat email:

Posted in Business Improvement, Continuous Improvement, Process Mapping | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A warm welcome to our new MD, Tanya Hulse

(Ltr) Tanya Hulse, TLC MD and Debbie McCarthy, TLC founder

(Ltr) Tanya Hulse, TLC MD and Debbie McCarthy, TLC founder

Training Leadership Consulting’s founders, Rick and Debbie McCarthy, have re-located to Boulder, Colorado. Debbie continues to be involved in the business and shares new global insights with us during her daily chats with the team and frequent returns to South Africa. We have brought on a new MD and are excited about the skill set, network and experience she brings.

Tanya joins the TLC team after 25 years working in the world of multinational corporates. She is an engineer by background, and has spent time in production management, projects, process optimisation, L&D and capability development, focusing both within South Africa but also globally. She has worked on concepts and projects with teams from countries as diverse as Peru and Poland, Uganda, the US, and India, among many others. Here’s what she has to say about the year ahead:

“I am delighted to have joined this phenomenal business developing people and helping companies with their business improvement journey. The dynamic team and diverse clients have exceeded my expectations. There has never been a better time for businesses in South Africa to embark on an improvement journey and we’re ready to play our role in making that happen.”

Tanya has recently moved from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg with her husband Gavin and daughters, Julia and Trisha. She enjoys spending time in the bush and scuba diving ranks highly on her list of fun things to do!

Get in touch:

Quote | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toyota Kata in the Classroom – PCB Lean Forum

A simple exercise to teach scientific thinking developed by best-selling author Mike Rother

Kata in the classroom (KiC) is a 50 minute hands on exercise with three minute rounds that involve assembling a small puzzle. The team follow the improvement Kata pattern to establish a goal and then experiment from round to round. Develop skills around scientific and creative thinking, collaboration and communication.

“The practice routines of the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata will make you, your team and your organization better at improving, adapting, innovating and achieving whatever you set out to do.” Mike Rother

Join us for a fun and practical session at the next PCB Lean Forum.

Facilitator: Manager

Grant Davis

Manager, Training Leadership Consulting (TLC)

DATE:  8 November 2016

TIME:  17:00 pm


VENUE:  Chamber House, Royal Showgrounds, Pietermaritzburg

TO BOOK: Email Tel: 033 345 2747

 About the speaker:

Grant is a Manager at TLC and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.  He has worked in multiple industries around South Africa, and has gained valuable experience in assisting numerous companies and leaders in their business improvement journey. Industry Experience: Petroleum, Logistics, Manufacturing, Telecommunications and Insurance


Posted in Business Improvement, Continuous Improvement, Lean Leadership | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment