Michael Heaney



Director at Benchwhistler Associates Ltd


What I have learned LIfe is exciting. I came from war torn Ireland to Scotland in 1972 as an undergraduate at Aberdeen University and have lived here ever since. I returned to Aberdeen University in 1998 and completed an MSc in Technology and Management for the Oil and Gas Industry. My dissertation was in Knowledge Management

What exactly is Knowledge Management? Well I can provide you with a simple series of interventions designed to harvesting the wealth of expertise locked in the heads of employees before it disappears as they exit the project, transfer to another branch, get promoted, quit, move to the competition, get posted overseas, or retire. Its all about stemming the progress of Corporate Amnesia - where the individuals still know - but the business has forgotten key elements of what it has to do to stay successful.

What I have done Residing in Aberdeen, naturally I was lured into the Oil industry and my career has been forged in the turmoil and growth, the exploration highs and the economic troughs of this sector. Within the broad reaches of that industry I have worked across all sizes of organisation for thirty years. First as a small cog within a US multinational, then a key employee in a home grown mid size organisation, later as a manager in a small 7 man start up struggling to grow and now as a one man consultant - delivering the concentrated learning and the benefits of paying attention to what it was all about through a whirlwind career over the last thirty years

For example I have been party to the seat of the pants existence of the start up, with the speed and the need to react immediately to survive. I have relished the strength in depth and financial stability of a giant organisation, whilst being aware of the lumbering slowness and the short-sightedness of such independence from your clients I watched the juggernaut momentum go so disasterously wrong that the corporation lost its shareholders BILLIONS of dollars. Have I got some stories I could tell you (if it wasn't for client and company confidential)

What I have successfully forgotten I have been caught in the wheels when the aspirations of a mid size company caused it to overreach, add too much overhead cost and suddenly had to retrench. I had a long six months unemployed, keeping the wolf from the door by taking on scraps of consultancy work here and there. I have been successful in playing the subsidy junkie game - applying for government grants, working with government paid consultants and documenting sufficient progress on projects to qualify for hand out funding.

What I have remembered I was appointed as a Service Quality Coach focusing on managing entire employee engagement and developing a competency program, through development, implementation to Qualifying Authority approval. I have been involved in a small research and development team developing giant killer products to compete with multinationals. I blazed a trail as a sole marketing and Sales representative breaking into overseas Export markets. I have been called in, in extremis to try to save a compay drowning in debt and unable to function because suddenly too many key staff had left -half way through a project - and with half a years revenue in the balance. Talk about a roller coaster. What else Outside this headlong career path I have also made time for my local community, serving first as a member and chairman of a School Board and latterly as chairman of the local Community Council, and a member of the Civic Forum. Just as in the past Scotland has proved itself as significant on a world stage, we each forge our own future. We need to be engaged to be a part of this progress. Rather than comment and criticise from the sidelines I offer what I can to this team effort.

What Do I know - but IT companies have jumped on this as the next big thing to sell more elaborate systems and software. Me - I just talk to people and harvest what they know, and present it back to their organisation because they don't communicate effectively with their work force - they are often too busy being in command and controllng their little empires just to listen and to ask.

What do I say If you are not part of the problem - how do you possibly expect to be part of the solution Lighten up - you'll be a long time dead.. and something my dad told me many times You can't believe half the lies you hear. Michael Benchwhistler Associates Ltd