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Jul 7, 2019

Faces of Innovation: Tom Gribbin, Wildwood


By Drew Welton

Founder - I help companies hire innovation executives.

This week, we are featuring Tom Gribbin, Founder of Wildwood, an innovation consultancy that designs products, services and brands

First, a brief overview of your experience in innovation strategy and customer experience?

From working with pre-seed start-ups, to multinational corporates and community charities, I’ve always helped design and launch new products, services, and brands, that make a positive difference. I also founded Boost, a technology-led service that helped get younger people more physically active, and I teach innovation in the School of Management at UCL.

In your opinion, how has the service of innovation consulting changed and evolved over the last 5 years or so?

Innovation consulting is now permeating the whole organisation, it is no longer confined to a ‘pet project’ from a board member. From creating entirely new businesses, to trying to change internal cultures, successful innovation programmes are incredibly impactful, but therefore are also becoming more complex and challenging to deliver.

To be successful in innovation consulting today, what would you say are the key skills needed? How have these changed. Where do they come from (from a talent point-of-view)?

The ability to uncover new insights and then leverage them to create magnetic experiences are two foundational skills. This requires a huge degree of curiosity, empathy, tenacity, ambition and creativity. The other side of the role, validation, building out the commercial & operational model and the go-to-market strategy require analytical, strategic and executional skills. Very few people span both, so you need a diverse team of creative and inquisitive minds who work well together. And crucially you need to create the right environment (culture, space, tools, support etc) for teams to thrive.

Brexit - to what degree do you feel this will impact the consulting industry in the UK?

I don’t think there’ll be any marked effect on the consulting industry. Brexit (whatever it is/becomes) is just one of the multitude of competitive forces affecting organisations today. Whatever uncertainty it may create is nothing compared to the innovation needed to keep up with rapidly changing consumer habits, burning platforms or competitors (new and old) banging at the door.

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

There is a huge opportunity across the customer experience, marketing and brand-building side of organisations which ‘traditional’ advertising agencies have tended to occupy. Fantastic innovation consultants design better experiences, and brands across all sectors are urgently looking for ways to delight their consumers. To succeed in this space consulting organisations will need to be able to navigate and influence the CMO’s organisation.

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