Lydell Stokes and his team aren’t afraid to think beyond lighting in their quest to find innovative solutions and push the boundaries of how business operates. In 2019, Lydell was appointed General Manager of Future Markets and has helped transform Pierlite into a more technologically advanced business. With over 20 years of experience in design technology and consultancy, Lydell has removed the physical and social barriers between teams to create a more transparent, authentic, and digital-first office environment.
In just two years at Pierlite, Lydell has enacted large scale business-systems change that has empowered Pierlite to move beyond core lighting solutions and helped the leadership team pursue a broader cultural transformation. He has revolutionised the way Pierlite operates by centralising and connecting departmental processes and core business and analysis systems around the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform integrated with SAP, removing many manual and duplicated processes.
Lydell has driven change across the business creating a digital backbone with tangible outcomes such as development of the Industry 4.0 – Design on DemandTM product configuration and manufacturing environment; establishment of the Pierlite Connect IoT ecosystem, and application of business intelligence via live dashboards replacing static excel reports. A core responsibility under his Future Markets umbrella is the development of the Beyond Light strategy and associated wellbeing, and “as a service” commercial offerings.
“Underpinning everything we do are three crucial questions,” says Lydell. “How do we transform the business to be data-centric? How can we engage with the market more intuitively? And how can we scale to reach other parts of the market? Everything that we do is working to move Pierlite beyond simply supplying lighting solutions the way we always have. We are addressing wellbeing, how people interact with work or public spaces, and how we can move into an educational space that empowers the consumer.”
Lydell is purpose-driven and passionate about transforming Pierlite into a multi-faceted business. It is this forward-thinking mentality and confidence that has shaped how Lydell embodies the Pierlite values of transparency, authenticity, leadership, trust, going above and beyond, courage and kindness. These values are second nature to his leadership style.
“Every day, I aim to demonstrate servant leadership and bring the team on the journey,” says Lydell. “It’s been really rewarding being able to listen, learn, collaborate and then deliver as a team, knowing that we are trusted to do it all.”
By creating this open and trusting environment, Lydell has seen his team thrive. Despite everyone coming in with different skill sets and backgrounds, from engineering to sales, they work cohesively as a team to keep progressing Pierlite into the future.
Leading with vulnerability is what makes Lydell such a responsive and empowering figure within Pierlite. “Trust is important,” shares Lydell. “I trust my team and they trust me back. I acknowledge everyone’s expertise and know that they’ll smash any task I throw their way –whether I’m in the trenches with them or watching from the sideline cheering them on.”
Lydell sees trust as an opportunity to empower his team. “They’re the expert in their space,” says Lydell. “I’ll help diagnose a solution and support them throughout the whole process, but I trust the capabilities of my team to do what they need to do and to get it right more than they get it wrong.”
This vulnerability and authenticity are at the core of how Lydell operates and reflects the importance he places in continually mentoring his team to help them achieve their goals. He cares about his team and their wellbeing, not just about their performance at work.
“I mentor with a development perspective,” explains Lydell. “I want them to grow as an individual and within Pierlite. I take the time to have a chat with everyone and I’ll have the hard conversations because I want them to succeed.”
Mentoring is an important aspect of Lydell’s leadership style. It’s what makes him authentic and transparent and has allowed him to foster a strong sense of community. Lydell’s ability to mentor individuals and provide important constructive feedback has empowered his team to achieve ambitious goals.
“One of my stand-out career reflections is the story of when I supported the development of a junior salesperson that had everything stacked against them,” shares Lydell. “They worked hard, they were hungry to learn and listened to the guidance I provided. That individual subsequently went on to multiple senior roles and is now the CEO of a growing SME and is giving the same mentoring opportunities to thousands of others globally.”
Lydell has embraced a data-driven and digital-first theology, that empowers his team and the rest of Pierlite to work together to achieve their shared ambitions. Removing the unnecessary barriers between each department, Lydell has implemented a solutions-based and transparent operating system, Microsoft Dynamics and Power BI, which has helped foster a greater team environment.
“Transparency is king,” explains Lydell. “It gets rid of much of the politics and toxicity within a workplace. Everyone can work together when they all know what’s happening. You have to have transparency to lead an innovative and creative team.”
Providing transparent information, that is delivered live rather than statically, has empowered Lydell’s team, and enabled them to make meaningful decisions quicker. These digital systems have also ensured Lydell can lead effectively, providing realistic KPIs that offer a sense of fulfilment and achievement.
“Helping our people be more effective, through the provision of an effective digital backbone, has helped build trust and a commitment to support the innovative vision and strategy we’re pursuing,” says Lydell.
This creation of a digital backbone and Lydell’s ability to improve business efficiency and performance is what underpins the Future Markets Team. It has enabled them to move Pierlite into an arena that is light years ahead of everyone else.
With Lydell’s experience consulting to the architecture, engineering, and construction industries, he understands the intricacies of business practices and the importance of ensuring a business’s system supports its overall ambitions. This is particularly apparent with the integration of smart technology into refurbishment projects.
“Rather than completing a site audit manually, we now have the capability using ‘reality capture’ technology to do it through a completely digital model that we can then remotely manage,” shares Lydell. “Through integrating technology into every aspect of Pierlite’s business practices, we can now empower our people to perform their jobs quicker, easier, and better than they have ever done before.”
Lydell not only wants Pierlite to continue progressing, but also his team. This desire for his team to pursue professional development is a testament to his own ambitions to continuously devour new information and gain further qualifications. With qualifications in business management, digital design technology and building information modelling ( integration, advanced sales training, and numerous other personal and emotional development certifications, Lydell is constantly striving to improve in every area.
Lydell challenges traditional thinking and relishes when he hears people say ‘but that’s how we’ve always done it’. “I have seen so many instances where that statement is tied to systems, processes or attitudes that haven’t been challenged,” says Lydell. “Then when you do question them, you find absolute gold. Often you only need to make simple changes that can have huge positive impacts.”
Lydell’s ability to identify opportunities to improve and rapidly develop innovative business and sales solutions is what has made him a stand-out leader and manager at Pierlite. This is what has empowered him to revolutionise Pierlite and begin implementing innovative design technology that has the end-user at the forefront.
One such area is the successful deployment of the Design on DemandTM web system. This program has revolutionised the way Pierlite does business. The customer now has the capability to design their commercial lighting solution by themselves online and immediately receive all relevant technical data and pricing. The process from time of order to manufacturing and delivery takes less than four weeks. Ordinarily, this process takes three to four months at least. Whilst Lydell may not be an engineer or a technical analyst, he understands how consumers interact with Pierlite demonstrating his talents for leading new market development.
“Design on DemandTM is a state-of-the-art tool that is unmatched in Australia and New Zealand,” says Lydell. “It’s a merging of different technologies to create a seamless experience from start to finish, whilst keeping it all in-house. I look at Pierlite as a holistic system rather than individual departments. I know enough of the technology and systems to be able to join the dots and that’s simply what I helped facilitate here.”
This innovative thought process is a result of Lydell’s experience in consulting, where he undertook transformation, technology, and change integration projects within a range of industries. In this same position, he developed strong coaching capabilities and led significant cultural change within a range of complex organisations. These key experiences and skills have shaped the leader he has become at Pierlite today.
With a problem-solver mindset, Lydell constantly looks for opportunities to improve processes and systems, generating long-lasting transformational change. His skill for engaging with stakeholders has enabled Pierlite to create strong ties and connections with industry leaders. He constantly strives to uncover the real challenges and issues impeding business growth, making him stand out and shine as an exceptional leader. Lydell’s passion for empowering others, his kindness to everyone and his drive to go above and beyond for all his employees, is what Pierlite is all about. By trusting and empowering his team with a transparent and authentic leadership style, Lydell embodies Pierlite’s values. While he may have not fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a spy, Pierlite believe he wasn’t made to receive orders, but instead to lead others to success.