At the age of 10 my big dream was to win Wimbledon. I never did (or you would have heard!). But I did spend the next 10 years of my life chasing a little green ball around the tennis court – ultimately ending up with a tennis scholarship in the US. Tennis taught me a lot:
- That you don’t have to be bigger to be better (well, at 5 2inches I HAD to believe this one)
- That you can outWIT rather than outHIT opponents
- That to chase a dream, you have to visualize it so clearly that you can make decisions “today” based on the future/dream that you want to create
When my scholarship ended prematurely due to a back injury, I turned my attention to another passion - writing. After studying a BA Communication (Hons) at RAU I entered the world of advertising as a strategic planner. Time at some of SA’s largest agencies (FCB, Ogilvy and Grey Worldwide) followed. Advertising sparked my love of transforming dry business strategy into a 30 second piece of art that could capture imaginations and transform behaviour. “Strategy to Story” was born.
“Story” has always been the easy part for me. So to further develop my understanding of “strategy” and the business world I embarked on one of the most challenging endeavors of my life, a part time MBA through Henley Management College in the UK. My MBA equipped me to start my own business; to take on an executive position at Harmony Gold; but most of all it introduced me to the jargon-riddled, abstract, vague, clichéd language of business. Ever since, decoding, and simplifying this “language” so that everybody gets it has been a driving force.
So my MBA ended as they always do (no, not in tears) but rather in a dissertation. I focused mine on applying the principles of external marketing to a much-neglected internal corporate audience. This approach found traction in the mining industry with its challenges of a demographically diverse, often illiterate workforce. Harmony Gold, a company willing to try unique and innovative approaches in this field, proved to be a dream client. Cartoon Manuals, Visual Strategy Maps, an industrial theatre group consisting of mineworkers and even an in-house, underground radio station were some of the channels that we created to communicate the Harmony Story – and to make it as simple, understandable and compelling on the rock face as it was in the boardroom.
After 5 years as Harmony’s Internal Strategy executive, I left to restart my own strategy and creative consulting business in the form of Squiggle Strategic Alignment (which focused on getting strategic messages across to employees in creative ways that inspired change and transformed behavior – in other words, Strategy to Story stuff…again!)
In 2012 Squiggle was absorbed into To The Point (as THINKspiration), which enabled it to grow in both turnover and capacity. Bernard and I as joint partners of THINKspiration are passionate about using our deep understanding of strategy, leadership and the power of distilling a corporate strategy into a compelling story to transform business in South Africa and beyond. From our joint Harmony experience we know it can be done and how well it works.
The official stuff:
- BA Communication (cum laude); Honours in Communication (cum laude)
- MBA (Henley Management College, UK)
- Internal Strategy Executive: Harmony Gold, 2002-2006
- Member of Creative Skills Council; an international forum of experts drawn from academia, the arts, and business who collaborate and share ideas re creativity and business leadership
- Lectures extensively on strategic alignment; strategy execution; internal marketing/communication.
- Regular columnist re strategy, story and leadership issues in business.