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Client Story

Cathay Pacific

Providing the right capability to achieve strategic goals by establishing the building blocks for change management

Cathay Pacific Airways is an international airline registered and based in Hong Kong offering scheduled passenger and cargo services to more than 80 destinations around the world. The airline was facing increasing challenges with its aging passenger systems, which were restricting them from improving customer service, launching new services and delivering operational effectiveness. 

Cathay launched the Passenger Support System (PSS) program to implement the industry standard ‘Amadeus’ system. This system is integrated, supports multi-channel interaction and provides a much enhanced User Experience (UX) for passengers and internal business users. Importantly, the new PSS platform also offered the opportunity to drive up revenues (e.g. by supporting additional cabin classes) and reduce operating costs. 

The £90m program represented a major business-wide transformation of processes and technology for Cathay Pacific impacting around 12,000 call center, airport and ground staff in 80 locations. 

The success of a transformation of this size and complexity is very dependent on the right program capability (people, tools, governance, organization, etc.) to define the scope, establish controls, deliver, accept and embed the change. It is all too common for programs to deliver the new capability and then find that the business is not ready or engaged sufficiently to accept or exploit the change. What this means is that getting the building blocks of the change management activity established is as equally important as delivering a robust solution. However, it is often an area that is under-invested in. Change management is a fundamental component of business transformation and is most effective when addressed from the outset and then through every stage of delivery of capability and through into benefits realization. 

Providing a framework for change 

Some months into their journey, Cathay Pacific recognized that they had some weakness in some of these core building blocks and Berkeley was asked by the PSS Program Director to develop an overarching change management approach. This sought to bring consistency to their business change activity, ensure stakeholders were effectively engaged and that staff were going to be equipped to use the system effectively from day one. 

Using our Change Management Framework (CMF), we assessed the current change management activity to identify gaps and made recommendations for stakeholder mapping and planning, change impact assessments and the process education approach. 

Our recommendations were endorsed and we were asked to undertake the Change Manager role for the remainder of the program. A consistent approach to change management was established and the internal capability enhanced making them better able to develop and validate the business case, finalize requirements, undertake business process changes and carry out training. 

The key outcomes


More robust messaging

We defined a comprehensive approach to benefits realization

Stakeholder engagement

Increasing positive engagement as the program progressed

Training development

Supporting end-users through changes to business processes

Program Capability Review

Via the PSS Change Manager role, Berkeley was also able to highlight other areas of the program where there were capability gaps and were asked by the Program Director to undertake a Program Capability Assessment.

The following recommendations were made and endorsed:
  • Enhance the core leadership team, providing clear accountabilities and responsibilities, and adopting a more effective working style. 
  • Implement a stronger governance model, including a rigorous checkpoint approach and criteria to guide the steering committee’s decision making. 
  • Establish a fully integrated program plan, with a clear critical path for technical delivery and testing, business readiness and implementation / cutover. 

This enabled the program to maintain delivery momentum, whilst also re-orientating the team for the final phases of testing, training and cutover. The trust in the Berkeley team was evidenced by the request for Berkeley to shape Phase 2 of PSS and to fill a number of key roles across the program team, including: acting as Interim Program Manager, running the testing function through a defects management process and taking on the Cutover Manager position. 

The right capability for success 

In summary, the Berkeley team provided end-to-end leadership and strategic advice in establishing clear approaches to Change Management and key elements of program delivery, working hand in hand and as part of the leadership team. The key themes were planning, governance, organizational design and business readiness. 

Berkeley established a ‘one team approach’ through listening to the business needs and bringing the stakeholders together to identify improvements collectively. This focus on collaboration resulted in alignment of thinking and understanding, and a building of consensus across the business leadership team. In addition, we were able to quickly work with the program team to identify potential risks and alternative ways of working that had not been considered to date. 

A blend of program delivery, governance and change management expertise filled a critical gap in the internal program team’s capability. As well as ensuring the success of this major transformation, the Berkeley team transferred knowledge to the PSS program team resource and created a sustainable change to the organization as a whole.