2020 Top BRMs

Posted | Category: BRM Community | Contributed

Top BRMs 2020

Our global BRM community recognizes the top BRMs that have achieved success through their BRM efforts, strengthened the global BRM community and BRM discipline, enriched lives through excellence in BRM within their organizations, and/or contributed to the community on a local, national, and global level.

Our 2020 Nomination form asked for the following information:

  • Overall Impact: We love a story about the impact others are having around the globe! Tell us about the outstanding accomplishments this nomination has delivered by providing a few paragraphs of detail around the individual’s overall impact they’ve had this past year. Consider including any outstanding accomplishments this individual has delivered including notable contributions, improvements, discoveries, how they have demonstrated the BRM Code of Conduct, etc. Also, include links to appropriate websites where applicable.
  • Leading with Purpose: Our careers are allowing us to bring more personal purpose in the workplace. This convergence of personal and organization purpose leads to happier individuals, stronger relationships and durable communities. Explain how this individual has satisfied their personal or organizational purpose through their work.
  • Delivering Value: Explain the value that was delivered through this individual’s efforts.

Your efforts are solidifying the success and adding to the credibility of BRM as a discipline on a global scale. Being recognized as a top BRM recognizes your impact on people, BRMs, and organizations everywhere. Thank you for making a difference!

-Aaron Barnes, CEO BRM Institute

Jon Tincher, CBRM

Business Relationship Manager, Corporate Affairs & Human Resources

New York Life Insurance

Industry: Healthcare

Region: USA

In a world where our Technology Organization was seen primarily as a Production Support Team and a hinderance to strategic projects, Jon Tincher has been able to successfully build a partnership and a trust that has enabled some of the most strategic work to be completed in our Human Resources Department. Speaking the language of our HR business, he has facilitated the first conversations around capabilities development – capabilities aligned to business objectives – offering us a better understanding of how our technology applications support those capabilities while uncovering duplicative technologies, and thusly expenses. He has driven solutions that provide automation for manual processes, gaining efficiencies in time and cost. His success has led to the ability to shape & prioritize demand against business strategy, identification of change drivers and inter-dependencies among the ecosystem, while creating a new portfolio atmosphere based on data-driven decisions.

Jon’s leadership and drive for collaboration doesn’t stop with the Business. He has successfully built a team amongst the technologists that extends beyond the reach of his direct reports. A shared purpose, aligned with HR’s strategic goals, provides all of us an opportunity to better understand how we are positively impacting our Business Partners – how each project, each decision, can impact the way we do business. Furthermore, he’s taken his drive for partnership to the BRMs in our Technology community. With a focus on education and sharing of wins/opportunities within each Business space, he has been the primary driver of certifications and other activities to mature the BRM practice.

Bringing to bear industry best practices, Jon has helped kicked off the most important program to date in HR – moving our payroll operations to the Cloud. Aligned to our Core Infrastructure “Cloud First” strategy and a longer-term vision of efficient architectural landscapes, this program is key to HR’s future strategy from an operational and financial point of view. Moreover, for the first time in our Technology space, our HR Leadership Team is driving the program, not the Technology Team itself. This pivot further proves the impact that Jon Tincher has had at our Company.

Jon cultivates a culture of openness in information sharing. He regularly solicits constructive feedback, builds consensus, encourages open communication, cooperation, and the sharing of knowledge. The ‘shadow of his leadership’ has a ripple effect throughout our Team. Over time, we have all started behaving the same way and that maturity enables even more success and an overall excitement to be a part of something bigger, something important, something worth coming to work for.

Peter Nichol, CBRM

Director, Research and Development, IT Portfolio Management

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

Industry: Biotechnology

Region: USA

Peter Nichol is a highly respected BRM as the Director, Research and Development, IT Portfolio Management, at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company with a market capitalization of $40 billion.

As a BRMP®, CBRM®, MBRM® and organizational change leader, he has fully embraced the BRM Institute’s approach for business partner value realization.

Peter led a departmental wide initiative to enable the Resource and Demand Management capability to align demand and capacity. Previously, the Research and Development IT department of 404 employees and contractors had no way to match incoming work from business partners (demand) to the provider’s ability to deliver (capacity). This inability to anticipate, predict, and model demand created enormous resourcing and staffing problems throughout the year as we enabled science to medicine across twenty-three scientific areas.

With strong support from a visionary executive team, Peter partnered and educated six departmental BRMs, twenty-nine program and project managers, and eight functional managers who together enabled the science of getting critical medicine to patients.

The result was a dramatic improvement in business value realization through business value optimization. Resource and staffing bottlenecks were identified early in the process, before business commitments were made, helping us to improve trust and collaboration with our critical business partners. The most important scientific business partner priorities were captured, balancing risk and reward (value creation). The value delivered was measured before and after execution (value recognition). And lastly, rewards were established to highlight the top value realized by our BRMs during our quarterly executive steering committee (value rewards).

The resource and demand management initiative are model programs being considered for adoption across strategic business units to accelerate value realization. This is a great example of the power of influence and the impact which innovative BRMs can have in amplifying the business value delivered to scientists.

Peter continues to introduce new and innovative concepts as a thought leader on CIO.com. Also, as a member of the Value-Focused Organization Workgroup, he is working collaborative with fellow BRM Institute leaders to define frameworks to capture the value that is created, recognized, and rewarded.

(Gary) Guodong Zou, CBRM

Sr. Advisor and Strategic Relationship Manager

Cisco Systems

Industry: Technology

Region: China

In the past 3 years, Gary has focused on IT/HR/Finance relationship management to drive (Global Business Services) GBS moving where relationship management re-energized the x-functional initiatives.

Cisco is now undergoing the digital transformation. As part of the exercises, an important enabler is business partnership mechanism. This year, as part of the IT Strategic Relationship Management, they’ve made progress in the following: 

  • Growth (Cisco on Cisco showcases, Commercial enablement, Global SP alignment, and Data analytics support)
  • Productivity (Forecasting simplification, Products & Services Sales integration, Emerging tech adoption)
  • Digital experience (Driving localization, Personalized client experience)
  • Business Relationship Management Community (CoE and CoP across the globe)

BRM Institute’s body of knowledge guides Cisco’s teams to form a effective and efficient framework, and under the framework they unfold their business as a BRM from each function. Here are some examples: 

  • Brought in Business Relationship Management practices into Cisco’s day-to-day, advocated BRM in Client/Employee management fields
  • Created business conversation framework in current organization structure by facilitated BRM sessions to different Relationship Owners
  • Influenced leaners on BRM soft skills requirements: identify relationship needs, focus on giving, trust, be authentic, be transparent, mutual respect, mindfulness, and lastly make the connection.

Beatrice Leistenschneider, CBRM

Regional Business Partner (APAC)


Industry: Consumer Goods

Region: Southeast Asia

Beatrice has been a practicing Regional BRM for the last 3 years. Here is some of her outstanding work that she has done for Givaudan:

1. Building internal BRM capability based on BRM Institute practices by developing the internal Business Partner Network (Local BRM + regional BRM) globally contributing to strengthen the relationship between Business stakeholders and IT everywhere.

2. Continuing to advance BRM practice within Givaudan and acted as a Regional Business Partner + Global Business Partner for the Fragrance Division to align strategies both at regional and global level. She shares strategic projects and initiatives with BRM for them to share with their stakeholders.

3. Contributed to the reorganization of the IT department more specifically on extending the Global Business Partner Network to be implemented in 2020. Additionally, she participated in the definition of Process, best practices, KPI, and ROSCI.

4. Continuously advocating the role and mission of BRM towards top management (Business and IT) and developing stronger partnership with Innovation group.

Beatrice continuously advocates the role and mission of BRM towards top management (Business and IT) and is developing stronger partnership with the Innovation group.

Beatrice has been a practicing IT BRM who has been instrumental in leading various demand-shaping initiatives for the respective business partners. She has been the first one with Givaudan who is CBRM certified and used all the learnings and best practices to constantly enhance the business partner experience. Her continuous endeavor has made other Business Partners appreciate the value of IT contribution to strategic business objectives. She has also been instrumental in the Organizing Best Practices and Training workshop for all BRM with 60+ people in June 2018. She is a perfect testimony of spearheading the value of BRM within the entire organization.

Jeremy Byrne, CBRM

IT Business Partner

Loughborough University

Industry: Education

Region: UK

Jeremy has progressed and refined the Business Partnering approach at Loughborough University, expanding the team from the core BRM group to the other people within the IT department performing the role providing guidance and a joined up approach. They now share our findings across the IT department monthly and have everyone on board understanding and valuing the role.

Externally to the IT department the business has now called on Jeremy and his team to help them develop five-year strategies, starting with facilitating their customer journey mapping exercises to how they want that experience to be in the future. Decisions are now in the majority business led rather than technology driven and value is ever increasing in every direction as a result.

“I find my purpose is helping others find their purpose, maximizing their potential and delivering the most value. I do this through my day job as a BRM, through helping other BRMs local to the UK with advice and guidance as an Ambassador and also through delivering BRM training.”

Jason Hunt, CBRM

Management Analyst

Department of Veterans Affairs

Industry: Government

Region: USA

In March of 2019, I was entrusted with the position of Intake Lead within my organization. This duty, classified by our Department CIO as “one of the basic and fundamental duties that our organization is responsible for” is the face of the Information Technology department for customers requesting new services or upgrades to their existing services. Utilizing the BRM tools at my disposal, I was able to quickly make some adjustments in our office’s strategy to better serve our business partners. These small changes affected our office’s ability to be proactive instead of reactive, gave us the insight to better shape the value that our business partners realize, and aligned the Intake team to a BRM-focused group.

Now more than ever, our business partners enjoy the fruits of the implementation of the BRM code of conduct – specifically Open and Honest Communication and mutual respect. Personally, I hold our business partners (who actually fulfill the mission of our Department and care for our Veterans each and every day) in the highest regard and will do whatever is possible to clear a path for them to do so to the best of their ability.

As a Veteran myself, I know just how important the services of the Veterans Administration are. I also know what our office’s role should be in that process. The Information Technology department is an important one that our business partners cannot do without in this day and age. However, I do realize that in my day-to-day job, I do not personally do the job that the Veterans Administration is tasked with.

It is my honor and duty to make sure that our customers (the Veteran) gets the best possible care, with the best possible technology, and receives it in the most expedient fashion possible. Whatever administrative burden or hardship that I personally have to endure to make that happen, I am willing to do. I do not and will not advocate for a solution that makes completion of the mission more difficult for those that are actually performing that solemn duty, just to make my job or the job of my organization easier. Luckily, I’ve been able to do just that so far, and with the knowledge and abilities that I have learned as a CBRM, I will be able to continue to do so.

As one of the steps in this Intake journey, I was able to identify some categories of projects that didn’t need to go through the long and arduous process that larger scale projects do. These projects didn’t really require the analysis and deep dive that the process mandated.

With the support of my Department CIO, I created a memorandum that described the types of project categories that could be reviewed and sent straight to the Service Provider. I was able to gain approval to run a two week pilot test of this capability and the results justified moving forward with further implementation and refining of service provider processes.

This pilot test was able to show how we could implement projects faster – a cumulative 4.5 years faster – and still keep the same oversight and security in place.

Malini Jayaganesh, CBRM

BRM Practitioner and Coach

Industry: Government

Region: Australia

Malini has been actively promoting BRM excellence in Australia through her many roles as practitioner and ambassador. This year she has taken on the additional role of accredited trainer and has delivered the inaugural CBRM certification course in this region. She has also successfully evolved BRM practice to converge with Agile methodologies with tangible results.

Malini believes that her purpose is to make other successful. To this end she supports BRMs in Australia to be more confident and intentional in their relation management practices which contributes to better career, organizational and societal outcomes.

Through her social media contributions and talks, Malini keeps BRM in focus for the Australian community and shines the light on excellence in practice. Her passion for relationship management is infectious and inspires others to view their BRM role as a privilege.

Nicole Eltom, CBRM

Director, Customer Relationship Management


Industry: Telecommunications

Region: Canada


In her current role at TELUS Business Solutions, Nicole leads a Customer Relationship Management team. She and her team are responsible for value management for some of the largest government contracts with TELUS’ business partners. She is also the prime for executing on the national BRM strategy supporting the team’s evolution to incorporate the BRM principles externally with our business partners. Part of the strategy has included a training strategy for over 100 national team members, for Foundations, BRMP, SPA Workshop, Executive Briefings, and recently CBRM certification. Nicole herself has a 30 year career in relationship management and holds BRM Foundations certificate, is BRMP certified, organized and participated in two BRM Executive briefings, and a 3 day SPA workshop with her cross functional leadership team. Nicole was successful in completing her CBRM certification in early September.

In November 2019, Nicole was nominated for and proud recipient of the TELUS CHLOE Emerging Leader award for her contributions at TELUS. The award recognized the success of the BRM Strategy as well as the work Nicole was doing in her volunteer work through the BRMI community, Connections, and in her community. CHLOE, short for Connections Honours Leaders of Excellence, are awards that recognize exceptional women and champions of diversity at TELUS. This category recognizes an up-and-coming female leader who shines, inspires and engages fellow team members by living our TELUS leadership values. This award is for a woman who has distinguished herself early in her career, showing tremendous potential to continue making her mark in the years to come.

In 2020, Nicole is currently looking for ways to mentor and champion the BRM mindset within departments at TELUS, both internally and externally, like within Product Marketing and Partner management.


Valerie Freund, CBRM

BRM Practitioner

Federal Reserve

Industry: Government

Region: USA

One of my passions is recognizing our colleagues as partners. If we all work for the same organization, we should be working towards the same goals. At the Federal Reserve, whether I was in a formal BRM role or managing strategy and architecture, I insisted that we recognize our business and IT partners as part of our team. I was fortunately in a position where I could influence our CIO to recognize that if we called our business partners customers, we were placing IT in the role of order takers. While this mindset was not always evident, the entire management council agreed that we needed to adopt a partnering mindset. Since leaving the Fed, working towards instructor certification and partnering with the Business Relationship Management Institute, I am looking forward to expanding this mindset to other organizations.

While I believe that my career has culminated in where I am today, I have been able to deliver value along the way. As a technical instructor, I honed my communication skills which have served me well as a technical manager. As an IT executive I have engaged with the business and IT to deliver large scale projects, ensuring that they were in synch; working with IT to ensure that they understood the challenges of the manufacturing as well as the research sides of the business; I have gained expertise in both the business and IT functions. As I look forward to 2020, the skills and expertise gained over the past 30 years provides rich experiences to impart to new BRMs working on their certifications.

Specifically, in the past year, I led the Business Architects at the Federal Reserve through the development of Business Capability Mapping for multiple business partners and led the Application Portfolio Management team through an evaluation of technical debt which led to a better understanding of the IT landscape and strategies to strengthen our partnerships and lead to a more secure and efficient architecture. I also established the Cross Domain Architecture group to bring architects from across IT and Business silos together to provide an all in view of the IT infrastructure and to partner across the Federal Reserve System to deliver on the goals of the entire organization.

Robert Arecchi, CBRM

IT Business Relationship Manager

Information Technology City of Virginia Beach

Industry: Government

Region: USA

Robert is one of the rare individuals whose knowledge, abilities and talents transcends all levels of the organization. He sits along side Economic Development Office providing enormous guidance in areas of technology as to benefit the City’s Strategic Vision in the Hampton Roads Region. Yet, at the same time, he maintains a humbleness that allows him to relate and provide assistance to City Staff who have “front-line” responsibility. He is known to executive leadership and staff for being honest, and “true-to-his-word”.

In his leadership role, Robert has set an example for junior Business Relation Managers as to demonstrate the value of BRMs in the organization. He has provided BRM governance to the organization. His technical knowledge of IT, as well as his expertise in business and organizational management, provides a framework by ideas to flourish and outcomes achieved.

With 2019 being a difficult year for the City of Virginia, Robert continued to work with determination and purpose to provide value to citizens and visitors. He led the continued expansion of the City’s mobile and wireless connectivity. He delivered on the completion of a rebuilding of the wireless network in the City’s Aquariums.

Terry Krafthefer, CBRM

Manager, Business Relationship Management, Information Services

UNS Energy, Tucson Electric Power Company

Industry: Utilities

Region: USA

The BRM team was established under Terry in the IT organization in December 2010 and currently is comprised of four BRMs, two IT business analysts. In short, Terry and the team are true BRM Legends who are reaping the benefits of a BRM strategy.

Due to the heightened relationship maturity, the UNS Energy internal audit group performs an assessment of the value management process. Due to the availability of quantifiable evidence, the audit group was able to validate cost savings and increased efficiencies that were generated by the Value Management process.

Terry has the ability to “see the big picture” while also being able to delve into relevant details when needed, marrying business acumen with IT and business process knowledge. He quickly grasps the nuances of a situation, understands the implications, and formulates an appropriate response. As an effective partner, he is able to communicate effectively with those who are not in the IT field. Similarly, he is able to understand client needs and issues that may not be expressed in technical terms, and “translate” those into terminology that technical staff can relate to.

Terry possesses excellent interpersonal skills, which he uses to build and sustain working relationships in bridging gaps between business clients and IT solution providers.

Terry and his team are BRM pioneers who have performed their work with passion and purpose. The achievement of providing certifiable evidence for the effectiveness of the value management serves as proof that the BRM framework not only brings people together but also generates financial value.

Avinash Singh, CBRM

Country Manager and Principal Consultant

Fox IT

Industry: Technology

Region: India

Avinash has been providing excellent knowledge to leverage the business using the right set of skills. He has trained 100+ people globally in Business Relationship Management Professional Foundation. Additionally, Avinash has spread awareness regarding the BRM Capability and how it enables convergence through various platforms, articles and blogs developed.

As a trusted advisor, Avinash coached organizations on adoption and scaling up IT Management Capabilities using multiple, frameworks and capabilities such as BRM, IT Service Management, and Lean putting customer value before profit. He contributed to development of Industry Best practices in the domain of IT Service Management, Business Relationship Management and Reducing Major Incident Value leakage on a global forum initiative with the objective contributing in humble way back to the IT Community.

Ranjith Pilanku, CBRM

Business Relationship Manager


Industry: Telecommunications 

Region: Canada

When I began my role as BRM with my public sector customer my goals were to build a strong relationship with the key stakeholders, increase our exposure within the industry, and expand our thought leadership and help TELUS position itself as an industry leader.

Throughout the year, I partnered with internal & external stakeholders with three important objectives:

1. Showcase TELUS commitment to the success of customer’s business objectives by adapting to a value add methodology.
2. Drive efficiency in TELUS internal process to reduce the operational costs.
3. Building a strong relationship to get a seat in the table with the Customer executive leadership team to have strategic and tactical discussions focusing on meeting their business objectives.

I am extremely proud of what I along with my team have accomplished during the past year we are just getting started and we have a strong road map on how we can be effective and elevate brand TELUS and continue to be a strategic partner with my customer by adapting the BRM framework.

My role as a BRM solely focused on climbing the value hierarchy to move the needle from a functional level, focusing on just products and services and their components, to the highest form of value which is social impact. As a BRM have always been committed to educate/mentor and support internal and external stake holders to adopt to the BRM Mindset as a result of this personal approach i have been able to build more creditability with my peers and customer

Randy Billinghurst, CBRM

Business Relationship Manager – Alberta Public Sector


Industry: Telecommunications

Region: Canada

Looking back at 2019, the year in which I also joined TELUS, there were many items in a BRM context from which I gained deep satisfaction:

• From a foundational perspective, advocating a BRM mind-set & deportment within TELUS on a daily basis, from using the language to driving concepts to incorporating BRMI’s Code of Conduct as part of my DNA.
• Leveraged my prior BRM experience & knowledge to assist with forming strategy for internal TELUS BRM COE sessions to illicit interest, engagement & collaboration during sessions. Also actively contributed to these sessions via advocating methodologies & sharing materials/slides as completed examples (i.e. Partner’s Strategy Statement, Business Partner’s KPIs, Relationship Maturity Model, etc.)
• Introduced the BRM concept via explaining the Relationship Maturity Model to Business Partners

My purpose or Ikigai is “connecting with others” which perfectly aligns with how a BRM succeeds. This is satisfied on a daily basis through my working interactions with external with Business Partners and our internal Provider Capability organization.

Stephanie Todd, CBRM

Chief Engagement Officer – LA County

LA County

Industry: Government

Region: USA

The BRM Program at LA County covers over 34 county departments, providing services to over 10.4 million residents. BRM was attempted at other times in the past, only to fail due to inadequate support, lack of strategy, poor leadership, and unclear mission. There was little definition on why BRM is needed, what it does, and the advantages to the county. Stephanie changed all of that by not only leading the efforts to define and develop the program but by rallying key leaders throughout the county to support and promote the program.

Stephanie spearheaded the creation and implementation of this very successful program. She led efforts to create a comprehensive BRM strategy, defined an effective organizational plan, and attracted top talent for her team. After defining the deployment plan, Stephanie worked diligently with management to properly fund and position the team for success. The results have been outstanding.

BRM has helped Stephanie achieve all of these goals. She has earned the trust of her management and team, has built a program at the county that will not only make a positive difference for the county and its constituents but will leave a positive legacy for many years. She has succeeded in something that others have failed at by using her passion and drive for success, her professional acumen on being inclusive and collaborative, and her leadership skills by creating a positive vision forward.

Chris Lucas, CBRM

Associate Vice President of User Success

The Pennsylvaina State University

Industry: Education

Region: USA

Chris is a member of the BRM Institute’s Board of Directors and has served as the BRM Council Chair for two years. In this role, he helps facilitate quarterly meetings and provides guidance and input on strategies for enhancing engagements and delivering value to Council members. Chris volunteers his time in driving awareness of the value of BRM and the BRM Institute and has presented at multiple national conferences including Educause, Knowledge, and BRM Connect. Most recently, he co-presented a session titled “Allies in Strategic Purpose: BRM and Organizational Change Management.” Chris has worked with multiple higher education institutions to implement BRM as an organizational capability.

Chris has been formally recognized for his ability to develop high-performing staff, many of which have moved on to various leadership roles within higher education. As a leader in IT at Penn State, he focuses on developing staff, growing high-performing teams, and creating an inclusive work environment.

Chris’ efforts have helped drive the growth of BRM at Penn State and within higher education. Chris has led the development of Penn State’s BRM team, which is CBRM and BRMP certified and has helped grow the discipline across Penn State.

Heather Honiss, CBRM

Director, BRM & Strategy

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Industry: Finance 

Region: USA

Heather is the Director of the BRM & IT Strategy Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and also leads the enterprise BRM Community of Practice for the Federal Reserve System. This past year the focus, both locally and at the enterprise-level, has been on elevating the role of the BRM and raising awareness around the value the role brings organizationally.

This year’s accomplishments include redesigning an enterprise partnership model, organizing the 5th annual BRM Summit featuring Kip Fanta as the first outside industry speaker to be included, enhancing the Community of Practice’s collaboration space, developing a buddy BRM program, hosting the first CBRM training in the Federal Reserve System, and organizing the BRM Executive Brief for senior leadership across the enterprise. Locally, Heather has also championed the shift toward a value-based organization and applying the Becoming a Value-Focused Organization” knowledge offering. This includes introducing the concept of a value statement as part of the BRM team’s demand shaping efforts, and having the organization take the value readiness assessment.

Heather’s personal purpose is to be a voice and an advocate. In her personal life, this often manifests in advocating for the needs of her medically complex child, but professionally this purpose is also met by being the champion and advocate for the BRM community in the enterprise, as well as being an advocate for the needs of both business partners and service partners.

Heather’s championship of BRM has helped to make the Business Relationship Manager role a recognized and valued enterprise role within IT, while simultaneously helping the BRM mature the relationships from tactical to strategic with business partners.

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