Meet the MD: Graham Sleep of Improvement Architecture Ltd

Meet the MD: Graham Sleep of Improvement Architecture Ltd

Graham Sleep heads up Improvement Architecture Ltd, where he describes his job as 'a bit of everything', from strategic operations and executive coaching. He caught up with BQ to tell us a bit more about his day to day working life...

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

A bit of everything …..I manage the overall strategic operations and financials of Improvement Architecture Ltd, as well as still delivering some strategic consultancy and executive coaching  to keep my hand in.  I also have set up a learning technologies company recently too, Laera Ltd.


What is it the company does?

IA’s main stapline is “Creating measurable behavioural growth in process and people to improve business performance” which is what we strive to do.

We provide companies with a full business review, by asking 7 simple questions. We strategically plan and support the implementation of our findings to deliver business improvement through our highly experienced consultants. The four main areas we cover are below:

  • Business Strategy -disruptive and aligned Strategies
  • Operation Excellence -lean six sigma, marginal gains and systems thinking.
  • Supply Chain Management -resilience and improvement through SCOR and IA’s highly developed tools.
  • Talent Development -our momentum model and global partnerships with leadership centres and authorities.

      Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

      I always say I was “born an engineer” although did become qualified as one later. I developed at every level through automotive manufacturing mainly within Tier 1s, to where I was a strategic operations manager for a fast-growing division of a multi-national within the USA. 

      I completed organisational turnarounds (and acquisition) for this organisation, and the same as General Manager of a manufacturing SME within the UK.  I also was fortunate to be part of setting up a number of international joint ventures along the way.  I gained a Lean Six Sigma Master Black-belt and went into consultancy and set up my first business up at 40. 

      For the first client I developed training via e-learning programmes for departments within United Army Emirates as well as The United Nations. 

      I grew my own business to over £500k then joined with an MD of a Scotland based consultancy to set up Improvement Architecture, which we are now progressing through the initial business. Personally, I have worked with Senior boards and teams of over 200 organisations (including a number of blue-chips) delivering consultancy and coaching. 

      We now employ 5 staff, as well as have long-term associations with over 10 consultants.  Last year became a Marshall Goldsmith Global Executive Coach,  (seen as the top Executive Coach in the world) and am now also coaching senior leaders in USA, Asia and Ireland.


      What do you believe makes a great leader?

      “Be an inspiration to your staff and others”.  You have to make it about them and lead through good example.  Also don’t try to be someone else (find your own personal leadership traits and work in your positions of strength).


      What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

      Previously I had grown companies from at least a foundation, or with finances in place to support acquisition.  Attempting to do it from a standing start with limited financials is much harder...


      How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

      I Love walks with my new and my first grand-child.  In terms of sport, Cricket is my key (Director of Cricket at Littletown Cricket Club) during the winter table tennis, and complete a number of charity walks.  Havent done enough of any of these this year however…
      When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
      An architect or engineer…


      Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?

      People accepting that average is good enough…

      Where do you see the company in five years time?

      A well-known international consultancy player and systems integrator.

      What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

      You are never too young or too old to do it!! Listen to lots of people but then make your own mind up and implement quickly.



      BE Group and Improvement Architecture (including lead consultant Graham Sleep) are working in partnership to deliver the North East Manufacturing Growth Programme. The programme offers 2 days of bespoke specialist consultancy – free of charge - for SME manufacturing businesses based in County Durham, Tyne & Wear and Northumberland to help businesses to grow, improve profitability, create jobs and develop export opportunities.

      Apply for the North East Manufacturing Growth Programme now by submitting an expression of interest online at Eligible businesses will then receive a link to complete an application form along with details of timelines and next steps. For more information, contact or call 0191 389 8434

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