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Apr 17, 2019

Faces of Innovation: Kate Thompson, businessthreezero


By Drew Welton

Founder - I help companies hire innovation executives.

This week, we are featuring Kate Thompson, who is a Managing Director and Partner at businessthreezero. businessthreezero is a digital transformation consultancy in London that helps big businesses ‘reinvent at pace’ through digital. 

First thing’s first - please can you give us an overview of your experience in Innovation?

On paper it probably looks more like a zig zagged than a linear career climb!... I started out in brand and customer strategy at M&C Saatchi and AMV BBDO - working across a range of businesses from toothpaste and car insurance to Guinness and the UK elections.

I then moved into innovation in ?What If!’s New York and London offices where I worked across a mixture of business model innovation, NPD and customer experience challenges, and helped establish the experimentation practice.

I left to be part of the founding team at businessthreezero where I’ve worn a number of  hats including setting up and running the digital business, consulting with some of our biggest clients, and owning our people agenda as HRD.

In your opinion, how has the service of innovation consulting changed and evolved over the last five years?

It’s become so much more saturated - businesses can access deeply qualified innovation experts both in house and in the growing freelance market - in a way they couldn’t 5 years ago. I think what we’re seeing is it’s putting pressure on the established consultancies to adapt quicker than ever - forcing them to innovate both what they offer and how they operate.

To be successful in innovation consulting today, what would you say are the key skills needed? And how have these changed?

In our business we always try to recruit people who are commercial, creative and human - in equal measure. It’s a rare blend, but I think it’s this combination that’s needed to crack the strategic challenges clients face today. Alongside this. one of the core things we also now look for is learning agility - all we know is that in 3 years time the rules of the game will have been reinvented yet again, so rather than deep but rigid experience, we need consultants who can adapt quickly and understand how they learn best.

Brexit. How do you think it will impact the consulting industry in the UK?

The million dollar question... that’s so difficult to answer right now. On one hand the increased ambiguity our clients face of course presents opportunities for consulting -  large businesses need to make sure they give their people enough clarity and direction through the fog. But on the other hand, as we know all too well in times of extreme uncertainty people freeze, business turn inwards, and budgets shrink.

Where do you think the world of innovation consulting is going? Who will succeed and who will fail?

We all know that customers’ expectations are changing faster than ever. And shareholders and regulators are piling on the pressure as they figure out how to respond to a changing world. The reality is that big businesses are struggling to keep up - let alone pull ahead - and face into the need to reinvent everything, from what they sell to how they operate day to day. I think it’s the innovation consultants who can support them in this shift - and help them build the capability they need to keep adapting - that will fly.

What would you say makes businessthreezero different?

Our belief is that reinvention happens at pace or not at all. The key is turning all your employees into teams on a mission. To do this businesses need to create a clear and compelling direction of travel that drives decisions and priorities, and then get all their people deeply committed to the journey ahead.

If you are interested in working for companies like this, then take a look at our jobs or get in touch. You can find out more about businessthreezero’s work, journey and people on their website.

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