Paul Shetler is putting the band back together. Or more precisely, he is bringing together a crew of former Digital Transformation Agency ninjas to build a new business.
Mr Shetler may have resigned last November from his position as chief digital officer at the DTA – after it morphed from being the Digital Transformation Office where he was the chief executive officer – but he has not allowed the experience and learnings to go to waste.
Together with former colleagues including Maria MacNamara, Catherine Thompson and Jordan Hatch, Mr Shetler has co-founded a consulting and advisory agency Hypereal to help businesses figure out exactly how to become digital-ready.
The team is battle-hardened in the digital transformation sector. Ms MacNamara ran communications and engagement at the DTO prior to its restructure, Catherine Thompson headed the DTA’s Digital Marketplace program, and Jordan Hatch – who was recruited to the DTO by Paul Shetler from the UK’s Government Digital Service – has literally been called a ‘Boy Wonder’ in both coding and digital strategy.
“A lot of organisations are trying to figure out what they do and how to respond to digital competition,” he said. “They don’t necessarily have a clear view of how they should do that.”
As part of the new venture, Mr Shetler and the team will provide education to board-level and executive leadership teams through events, workshops, and specialised programs.
They will also provide advisory and consulting for large organisations that are digitising by reviewing their existing and future strategies, and helping them to not only shape ideas but deliver them as well.
Unlike other digital transformation consulting firms, Mr Shelter said Hypereal’s point of difference is that everyone involved is a practitioner who has been involved in digital transformation at scale in large organisations.
“We know where the bodies are buried, where the problems are, rather than approaching it from a theoretical standpoint.”
But this is not Mr Shetler’s first startup rodeo. When he was still in the US and the UK, he had his hands in a few others that focused mainly on software development, including corporate venture MyRepublic Interactive, B2B company Net Fish Technology and two small startups in London.
Mr Shetler says the work at Hypereal is “very complementary” with what he does at Sydney FinTech hub Stone & Chalk, which he joined as the Expert in Residence in June. Over there, he’s the “go-to person for digital” for startups and corporate partners.
“[Stone & Chalk] has a great environment. What’s interesting is that it reminds me of a similar energy at DTO because where there are a lot of very smart people trying to get things done very quickly,” he said. “The vibe is very similar. But the interesting thing is that it isn’t government, which I really like.”
A glimpse of the advice that Mr Shelter will provide to Hypereal’s future customers – which he says he draws on from his own experience – was shared at the Subscribed event put on by Zuora in Sydney on Tuesday, where was the keynote speaker.
He emphasised the need for businesses to have capabilities in place that will allow them to scale up and down to compete against other digital service companies.
“It’s hard for companies to change. It might be obvious but they’re not necessarily doing it because they haven’t had to and that’s why it needs to be lead from the top down,” he said.
“Digital strategy and company strategy cannot be two separate things, and if they are then there’s something wrong.”
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