Making Conversations Count


Episode 5

How do you fancy moving to Singapore? Andrew Deighton is a coach that develops teams in SME’s

We are joined by Andrew Deighton today, who helps build and develop high performing teams through strategy and processes in today’s remote working world.

Wendy has worked with Andrew in a second business through mentoring and knows firsthand how his advice relates to many aspects of running a business. Andrew shares his time at Rolls Royce which leads to his pivotal moment.

This conversation discusses different opportunities and how they can positively affect your business, work/life balance and your family.


Connect with Andrew:


When Andrew was offered a promotion, that was perfect for him, it led to some interesting conversations and thinking about what opportunity looks like in reality…



Making Conversations Count – Episode 5

November 19th 2020

Wendy Harris & Andrew Deighton, AWD Development Solutions Ltd



00:00:00: Introduction
00:01:08: How Andrew and Wendy met
00:01:47: The new world of online conversations
00:02:33: Video meetings expanding the global reach
00:03:32: Some useful tips for hosting zoom meetings
00:04:56: Andrew’s feedback from his online sessions
00:07:42: Andrew’s pivotal moment
00:11:53: Memories of Singapore
00:14:06: How the children coped as expats
00:17:04: The typical day of an expat worker

00:18:23: Final thoughts


Wendy Harris: Welcome to Making Conversations Count, the podcast that shares business leaders’ pivotal moments to help aspiring entrepreneurs.  Today, I’m excited because I have Andrew Deighton here with me.  I met Andrew about three years ago, and he has actually helped me in my business, so I know that I’ve had a couple of pivotal moments just off the back of meeting Andrew; so, it was great to be able to ask him to come on the show and share his with you too.

So, Andrew, welcome to the show.  Thank you so much for joining us.

Andrew Deighton: Thank you, thanks for asking me.

Wendy Harris: I know that we’ve known each other for a while.  Tell each other what you do and how we first met.

Andrew Deighton: I run a training and development business now, so particularly focussing on helping businesses to build high-performing teams; and now, the situation we’re in, remote high-performing teams.  And, I also help businesses who may be a bit bigger who need some outsourced training and development support, so putting strategies and processes in place around developing their people and their teams and their organisation.

So, we first met when I volunteered to do some work with Staffordshire Chamber as a mentor, and they introduced me to you and Colette and we started having a few business mentoring sessions.

Wendy Harris: Absolutely.

Andrew Deighton: The Holiday Inn in Burton!

Wendy Harris: The Holiday Inn and their cappuccinos, yes, because Colette is also known as my work wife for the sales and marketing workshops that we were delivering.  We’ve not delivered any through lockdown, and that was purely because we thought that the reason that people loved our workshops so much was the interaction that they get in the room.  So, this remote working thing really has changed.

How has the conversations that you’ve been having with delegates, you know, training online, how have they changed?

Andrew Deighton: Obviously, it’s different.  I think it’s useful if you do get the chance to meet someone face to face first and then take it offline, but obviously that’s fundamentally changed now.  So, I ran a webinar session two days ago actually, and strangely, and I don’t know why, but most of the delegates were from Malaysia; so, it just opens up that properly global thing without having to leave my office. 

And, it’s just bizarre.  I don’t know why it was or where it came from, but I advertised it on LinkedIn and Eventbrite and most of the people there were from overseas, rather than the UK, which was just strange.  It’s really opened things up; the potential.

Wendy Harris: Yeah.  There’s something happening in Malaysia that maybe there’s a skill shortage, they haven’t got anyone they can call to, and I know that you’re very active on social media in telling people what you do and how you do things.  You do lots of video, which I think is great for connecting with people, so maybe that’s why your global reach has boomed?

Andrew Deighton: I try to vary things and see what works and what doesn’t work.  Lots of us are learning, you know; we’ve had to shift.  I’ve not shifted what I do or what I want to do really; I’ve just had to shift how I do it and maybe package things a bit differently with the remote stuff. 

I think you can still deliver pretty interactive, pretty good workshops online, particularly with teams who know each other.  Obviously, it’s more difficult if you’re pulling a new team together, but I think if people know each other before and they just happen to have to work remotely, you can still do away days and facilitation and team events quite successfully online.

Wendy Harris: Somebody mentioned to me a couple of days ago that we all need some form of training in terms of how to handle ourselves online, in like zoom situations; looking out for nuances of facial expression, distractions that you may not normally notice.  And I know myself, I’ve done it, I’ve fallen foul of it, but also I’ve noticed it in team sessions that I’ve run as well.

And I think it’s that difference; I think it’s perhaps why I love the phone so much.  You don’t necessarily need to see all that body language; it’s all about coming out in the voice, isn’t it, as to what you do?

Andrew Deighton: And, I think when you’re delivering through zoom or something, it’s about trying to remember that when you’re talking, to look at the camera.  The temptation is to either look at yourself, or look at the person you’re talking to, which you would naturally do.  But, if you’re looking at the person that you’re talking to, then you lose the eye contact, because the camera doesn’t see you.

Wendy Harris: That’s strange, isn’t it though, because that eye contact through the camera means that I can’t keep an eye on what your responses are to what I’m saying?

Andrew Deighton: Exactly.  It’s kind of, you have to imagine you’re sort of a TV presenter and just imagine you’re talking, if you’re doing a group session, imagine you’re just talking to one person.

Wendy Harris: It’s almost that, pretend you were on the phone so that you don’t get distracted as well by other things going on, isn’t it?

Andrew Deighton: That’s a good technique actually, yeah.

Wendy Harris: Yeah.  So, I know that you mentioned there as well that getting people to perform, whether they know one another or not, online can be difficult.  There have got to be some success stories as well.  What sort of feedback have you had from the deliveries that you’ve been doing?

Andrew Deighton: It’s been really positive actually so far.  Things have progressed quite a lot as well, so I think people like short, sharp sessions.  They appreciate that, because we spend so much time, a lot of us, on zoom, and it’s back to back, you know, 12.00pm to 1.00pm, and then 1.00pm to 2.00pm.  I think the danger is people just don’t leave themselves gaps.

So, what quite a lot of people suggest is running things from sort of five or ten past the hour to five or ten to the hour, rather than hour-long sessions, and it just gives people that ten-minute break in between to get their thoughts together, go and grab a drink, and so on.  So, I think you’ve got to think, and people appreciate that.

If you put the thought into how you’re delivering and what the impact is on people, they really appreciate it, because the vast majority aren’t like that; so, if you’re thinking about it, they appreciate it and they appreciate it more.  And then, just again trying to build in interaction, whether that’s just through encouraging people to answer things in the chat box or polls, or the whiteboard feature, things like that.

So, people appreciate that and give good feedback based on that interactivity; it’s not just about putting slides up and a little picture of you in the corner, and then just talking through slides; that’s not what people want now.

Wendy Harris: I hear exactly what you’re saying there, Andrew.  I mean, the sessions that I run, I always say, “Right, I’d better introduce myself and tell you what we’re going to be doing today”, and you can see all the microphones go red with a line through, because they’ve put themselves on mute.  And I’m like, “So, the first thing I’m going to say to you is, unmute yourselves, because you’re going to be involved.  I want you to be asking questions.  This is your session; it’s for you, not for me”.

It is interesting how the difference, I think, in expectations that you find that it’s not very refreshing when people put themselves all on mute, is it?

Andrew Deighton: As well, if they don’t have their video.  And, I know people have reasons for not putting their video on and that’s fine, but it makes it really difficult then to judge.  You know, you’ve got 20 little squares on the screen; you are just trying to judge the reactions, but if there’s no video as well, it’s just really, really difficult.

Wendy Harris: That’s the art of presenting, as well as being engaging, isn’t it?  And I think this is why Making Conversations Count, I’m so passionate about it, is because it’s got to be a two-way street.  You can give, but you also need to receive, so it’s that speaking and listening that’s really important?

Andrew Deighton: Absolutely, really important, yeah.

Wendy Harris: Everybody that comes on the show, I always ask them to have a think about one conversation that created a turning point, and we’ve been calling it their “pivotal moment”.  And, one thing that’s become clear is that a lot of people have more than one.  So, Andrew, have you been able to think of one?

Andrew Deighton: Yes.  It actually goes back to 2007, so it’s quite an old one.

Wendy Harris: Okay.

Andrew Deighton: It’s when I was working at Rolls Royce.  So, I started at Rolls Royce when I was 18 and worked there for 26 years, so I was actually in the marine business.  So, I was the Head of Employee Development for the marine business in Rolls Royce.

My boss called me in one day and he said, “We’re setting up a new business unit; would you be interested in being the HR Director for this new business unit?” and I’d sort of got a mix of HR background and a mix of training and development background, so I sort of swapped between the two, and yeah, it was a big promotion for me.

So, I said, “Absolutely, yeah, thank you for asking me”, but it was brilliant; from a career perspective, it was just superb.  So, that was all great and then he said, “But, it’s going to be based in Singapore”.  So, that kind of put a bit of a different twist on things, because my wife was working; I’d got twin girls at home who were 11 at the time and my son was 5.  So, I said, “Yes.  I’d better just check at home first before I ‑‑”

Wendy Harris: It’s not just my decision?

Andrew Deighton: Yes.  So, that was really quite a fundamental point.  So then, I went home and had a chat with Jo, my wife, and my fundamental thing is around opportunity, so we said it was for two years initially; two years just goes like that; let’s do it, let’s go for it. 

So, I went back and said yes, and then it came to a bit, I guess, into your arena; sales.  So, I had to then sell it to my kids, because the girls had just started senior school, they’d been with the same friends all through school, we’d lived in the same area for all their lives, you know; so, it was going to be a bit of a sales pitch.

So, we went back, and it was very clunky internet in those days and strange beeps and things when you went online and all sorts of stuff, but we pulled up pictures of that part of the world and the beaches and things that we could do and stuff, and started a bit of a sales pitch to the kids really.

I also remember, the thing that sticks in my mind is, when we were showing these pictures, one of my daughters, Emily, she says, “Am I dreaming; is this real?”, so we knew that we’d kind of got them.  So, I accepted it, I started working in 2007 from the UK, just sort of going out there now and again, but then Jo and I had to go out on our sort of look-see visit and find a house and find a school and all that.

There came another bit of another sales pitch really, just to convince Jo that it was definitely the right thing to do.  I think the thing that swung it when we’d got out there, as soon as we landed, it was kind of early morning.  Because of the flight times, you get there about 6.00 am in the morning.  So, we were in the hotel swimming pool at 8.00 am in the morning, in the sunshine, in 30 degrees, and she said, “Yeah, I’d probably manage this for two years”!

So, I’d got a convert there.  And also, the hotel had a happy hour in the evening in the sort of business lounge, which was on the 30th floor overlooking the city, and it was free canapes and wine; so, that swung it as well, I think.  We decided we’d go for it.  We actually moved out in March 2008.  That was the start of our pivot.

Wendy Harris: It’s exciting, isn’t it?  And I think, what you’ve described there as well, even with your wife saying yes to the opportunity from the start and, “Yeah, let’s get the kids on board”, and even then going out to look for the house, it starts to become not just an expectation, but a reality.  It’s bridging the, well it was a good idea, but is this real; is this happening; how is it going to affect me; and then it’s all the uncertainty.

But, what a fabulous opportunity to go out there.  So, what’s your lasting memory of Singapore?

Andrew Deighton: It’s a mix of probably a couple of things really.  It’s the opportunity from a work perspective; it was a proper international role, so the business that I worked in, we had 34 locations across the world, so I was looking after — it was only a small team, but a remote, global team, part of an executive group looking after a 2,000-people business. 

So, it was sort of that experience and exposure at that level, and the opportunity to travel for business, which I actually really enjoy flying.  Some people hate it, but I really enjoyed the business travel side that was part of it.

But also, particularly, I think the key thing was from a family perspective for me.  It opened up, for all of us, such an opportunity to experience things that we would never have experienced.  I didn’t know anything about that part of the world at all when we went out there, so we were literally going quite into the unknown.

They call Singapore, “Asia for beginners”, because it’s —

Wendy Harris: It’s really westernised, isn’t it?

Andrew Deighton: Yeah.  So, they drive on the left and you don’t need an adaptor for your sockets, and it’s very western and English and English law and so on.  It’s the opportunities that open up to travel and experience different countries and cultures.  And Singapore itself is just such a mix of cultures. 

There are four main cultures in Singapore anyway, but then you bring all these different expat countries and people in as well; it’s a really mix.

Wendy Harris: Pockets of people from home?

Andrew Deighton: Yeah, that whole cultural awareness and customs and getting used to working with different people with a different perspective, and it’s just great.  And for the kids, they went to a school that had 42 nationalities in it in a school of 400.

Wendy Harris: Wow!

Andrew Deighton: And, they’ve got friends now all over the world.  So, my daughter, she was due to be a bridesmaid for a friend in Australia this year, but obviously that’s not happened.

Wendy Harris: Oh, wow.

Andrew Deighton: She went travelling after uni and met five Japanese friends who she’d not seen for five years, and her and her boyfriend, they took them round Tokyo as tour guides, you know.  She hadn’t seen them for five years, but they’d made these friends from all over the world, and just their understanding, I think.  The understanding that they’ve got of different cultures is great.

Wendy Harris: So, you’ve got all of you on the same page, because it’s all unknown to everybody, so you’re all learning together?

Andrew Deighton: As we go, yeah, absolutely.

Wendy Harris: Which, as a family unit, can either make or break you, can’t it, if you’re not careful, let’s face it?  So, fabulous that they were on board, that they embraced it, and look at the knock-on effect that it’s had in their lives as well, being young adults and young children coming through; amazing.

Andrew Deighton: It was tough for them at first, because they were leaving their friends, obviously, particularly for the girls, because they’d got their real roots; so, it was very hard for them, to be fair, to take out.  And, I think social media sometimes is a bit double-edged, because it was very easy to stay in touch, which was great for us, keeping in touch with our parents, but it was easy for them to keep in touch with their friends.  So sometimes, obviously, missing them and stuff, but then we did probably so much more than we ever would have done here, as a family, because we were in a rented house. 

We didn’t have the usual, we’ve got to do decorating, and all this sort of stuff in the house, you know.  So we did, every weekend, we tried to go somewhere, you know, just on the island, to visit different things and see different things and go to museums and go out to the pool and go to the park and, you know, probably brought us a lot closer together as a family than we would have.

Wendy Harris: So, from that conversation of, “Can you take on this new role?” and you go, “Yeah”, to, “Can you go to Singapore?”  “Argh!”, it really did have a positive impact, not just on you but on your family and your life?

Andrew Deighton: And then, we had to come back.  And so, the girls actually were easy to bring back to the UK.  Tom, my son, it was really tough for him coming back, because he’d really forgotten the UK, because he’d done basically half his life by then out there, and all his friends were in Singapore really.

Wendy Harris: The opposite adjustment.

Andrew Deighton: Yeah, so he was really easy to take out, but it was really hard for him to come back; so it was really the flipside.  And then, you’re integrating back into the UK.

Wendy Harris: And, I bet he’s kept in touch with lots of people as well, hasn’t he?

Andrew Deighton: Yeah, absolutely.  Again, South Africa, he’s got friends there and Spain and all over the place.  Both the girls have travelled since and Tom wants to work overseas when he can as well, so it’s really opened up all of us, all of our minds.  And, we ended up staying four and a half years; we went for two.  If we hadn’t taken that opportunity, we would never have had all that.

Wendy Harris: Yeah, because it does make you think, “Well, where would I be now if I hadn’t have done that, and where would my family then be if I hadn’t have done all that, now?”  It is that kind of, “What if…?” moment, isn’t it.  And just touching on what you were doing, you know, having a remote team in 34 locations; you’ve been handling remote working for a very long time?

Andrew Deighton: Yeah.  Until recently, you kind of take it for granted or forget it actually.  When I was out there, obviously my working day started at sort of 8.00 am, you know, normal day, but it was really quiet, because I was based out in Asia.  And then, about lunchtime, Norway, Finland, Sweden woke up, lunchtime Singapore time; and then, an hour after that, the UK woke up; and then, five hours after that, America woke up.

So, it was very long days, because you’d be doing calls at 10.00 pm at night at home because of the time zones.  But, you are working properly remotely across lots of time zones, and across lots of different communities as well.

Wendy Harris: A fabulous opportunity and a fabulous story.  Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Andrew; I think it’s incredible.  Anybody wanting to know anything about Singapore, obviously you must be the new tour guide?

Andrew Deighton: We’ve been back twice actually.

Wendy Harris: Have you?

Andrew Deighton: Yeah, we went once for my big 50 birthday.  Jo and I went just to sort of revisit places and see how things have changed; and then, we went last year with Tom for him to have a chance to see what he remembered.  So, who knows when we’ll get back?

Wendy Harris: Wow, who knows?  Maybe you’ll get some invitations?

Andrew Deighton: That would be nice.

Wendy Harris: That would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Andrew Deighton: To be paid to go back would be ideal.

Wendy Harris: We’re not exclusive to Singapore!

Andrew Deighton: No, anywhere will do!

Wendy Harris: I’ll carry Andrew’s bag!  But, Andrew, thank you so much.  If people want to pick up the conversation with you, where can they find you?

Andrew Deighton: Email me.  My email address is, or just connect with me on LinkedIn; look for Andrew Deighton.

Wendy Harris: Well, that’s great.  Thank you so much for sharing again.  Don’t forget to send us your comments; we love to read them and do reply.  So, share this with your friends and family and don’t forget to subscribe.  The link you need is  Thanks so much for listening.  Until next time, bye bye.