An Interview with Oystercatcher’s Suki Thompson

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It’s transform or die in today’s fast-paced industry, one that’s continually changing and evolving at the hands of innovative technologies and ideologies that shape and mold consumer behaviors. Look no further than the recent trends in both business and politics around the world in the last year alone. The needs, wants and will of the people have been transformed and have begun to disrupt the familiar in both sectors, forcing business and political leaders to be open to change in order to not just stay afloat, but to lead the transformation movement.

Suki Thompson, CEO of Oystercatchers, knows a thing or two about transforming to achieve a new level of success.  During Advertising Week Europe, Thompson sat down with two fellow transformation leaders paving the way in two starkly different industries; Feilim Mackle, CEO of Dixon’s Carphone Warehouse Service, and Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party. While one leads through a high street business, and the other through a political party, Thompson maintains that both represent the importance of knowing your diverse pool of consumers and being able to transform your message to fit their wants and needs.

For Walker, whose job as leader of the Women’s Equality movement is to speak to the growing voice of modern women who are ready for and actively seeking change in politics, the task first begins with understanding the women the party seeks to represent. Thompson says the same is true for marketers who wish to accurately represent their audience’s wants and needs – you must first understand your audience. Sometimes, she notes, that means looking outside of just what’s best for your brand, and actively getting to know your audience and your consumers.

According to Thompson, too often businesses rely on data for insight into their audiences. While consumer data has its benefits, relying too heavily on the numbers and statistics misses the mark. Business leaders who successfully transform their business to represent their audiences get there by experiencing what the consumer experiences and by getting under the surface.

While a phone company that’s in the business of retail and a political party that’s out to disrupt the male-dominant world of politics appear to have very little in common at first glance, Thompson said she found that both Mackle and Walker discussed leadership in very similar regard. Both agreed transparency, humility and vulnerability are strengths in modern leaders, whereas even just a decade ago, they would be seen as just the opposite. That, and the growing need for passionate leaders driven by purpose, are the most prominent examples of the changing leadership ideals we see today. Sometimes, Thompson said, understanding those changing methods of effective leadership comes down to understanding a simple analogy.

Watch the full AWEurope panel with Thompson, Walker and Mackle discussing transformation and leadership  today on Replay.

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