From start-up to scale-up: my personal perspective
I’m a creative. A consultant. A founder. A mum. And for over 15 years I’ve been working for and with corporate clients.
Starting out as a ‘big 4’ strategy consultant sparked a fascination with how businesses, and the people within them, operate. It also confirmed that working in a large hierarchy-led organisation wasn’t for me. I needed more creativity. I spent the next 10 years growing within an agency environment; leading me to the management of teams, clients, and global brands.
In 2015 I founded Bretom.
I am and always have been a people person.
Early in my agency career, I sat down for dinner next to a potential client whose opening line was ‘I’ve only heard good things about your work but tell me something interesting about you.’ This simple, confrontational statement forced me to be human. To talk normally. Not pitch. Not promote. But to talk and (even more importantly) listen. It cemented in me a love of human connection, the importance of dialogue and an understanding that authenticity and trust must be worked at and earned.
Today, everything I do follows this people-first approach; helping business leaders and brands to understand themselves, their market position and how to create engagement with the people that matter to them.
I have previously written about why I started Bretom. Re-reading this piece, six years on and I’m proud that the founding principles still ring true. And whilst I had never considered the need to maneuver operations through a pandemic, our agency set up – as an agile collective of brand and technical experts – has come into its own during a challenging time for many.
When asked what I have ‘learned’ in recent years, my list is endless. But three things that stand out are:
In his book ‘The Ride of a Lifetime’, Robert Iger, Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company talks extensively about embracing the Japanese concept of shokunin—the endless pursuit of perfection for some greater good. He elaborates…
…“It’s about creating an environment in which you refuse to accept mediocrity. You instinctively push back against the urge to say There’s not enough time, or I don’t have the energy, or that requires a conversation I don’t want to have, or any of the many other ways we can convince ourselves that ‘good enough’ is good enough.”
Robert Iger, Chairman & CEO, Walt Disney
I have this quote above my desk and take huge pride in the quality of Bretom’s deliverables and service culture, regardless of the size or scale of project.
Many businesses are embracing the opportunity to rethink their operations and physical footprint as a result of the pandemic. Whilst Bretom was founded on the understanding that all employees and partners could ‘work from anywhere’, what I have realised is that this only works because of the culture we have actively nurtured.
Our client relationships are based on high levels of trust and respect and that rings true across the agency team too. Our team values the expertise of others in the Bretom collective and we all support the working practices (and boundaries) needed to excel at work and at home.
High-level client interaction is when I am most inspired; helping to provide clear thinking with regards to strategy, the direction of projects and achieving business outcomes. When clients throw information at me, deciphering what is valuable and forming order out of chaos is where I thrive.
My ability to do this effectively is driven by my people-first approach and an innate ability to listen and hear what is important. And then to challenge. Brands (like people) are complex, often long-term investments and positively challenging perceptions, viewpoints and sometimes logic helps to drive broader thinking and, in my experience, more effective outcomes.
As we celebrate Bretom’s sixth birthday, I have a sense of calm excitement. Bretom is no longer a start-up. And in the last year, we’ve survived a pandemic and I’ve welcomed my first child to the world! As we return to some resemblance of ‘normality’, albeit within a forever-shifted landscape, I can’t wait to see what the future has in store. Now… back to work.