Helen Evans, BIMA 100 and some Great Strategy
Helen Evans, Lead Strategist and all-round superstar Great Stater has won a coveted place on the BIMA 100 this year, in recognition of her strategic work for the Royal Navy on the MyNavy app.
She was put forward by her team mates for her ambitious, pragmatic and creative approach to digital transformation. Her standout and impactful work captured the attention of the judges, who see hundreds of applications made to the BIMA 100 list every year.
We posed a few questions to Helen, in a bid to understand more about what makes a good strategist, and let's be honest, we wanted to show off a little bit too.
In your view, what attributes make someone a good strategist?
No one strategist is alike and I think a strategy team benefits when it has a diverse group of people with different experiences and perspectives to draw upon. But there are also certain traits that strategists tend to have. Firstly, curiosity – we often work across such a broad range of topics and clients and so you need to be someone who is happy to delve into any topic and ask lots of questions and really listen to the answers. Secondly, the ability to tell a good story – you need to be able to take potentially complex situations and boil them down into a digestible output that people can get behind and that doesn’t overwhelm them in the process – saying more with less is an underrated skill. And finally, a love of problem solving, someone who thrives on finding new and creative ways to overcoming challenges, is there anything more satisfying?
What’s the biggest strategic challenge you’ve overcome at Great State?
I think the biggest challenge for me is getting organisations to think differently and encourage them to really question their ways of working. We quite often encounter clients who are struggling to truly innovate because either policy, process or the mindset of their senior teams is holding them back. It’s my job to help develop people’s confidence that things can be done differently through building trust, good relationships and up-skilling. When you can get organisations on board who are willing to take perceived risks, then you can make real change.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to become a strategist?
Don’t be put off by thinking you’re not smart enough or haven’t had the right career path or education. Before I became a strategist I was hugely intimidated by the role. The career path is often unclear, the training and qualifications aren’t defined and even the job title sounds a little pretentious! Strategists should come from all walks of life and as long as you enjoy solving problems, love immersing yourself in new topics and are a good communicator, then don’t let the other things put you off. Reach out to other strategists, ask questions and ignore the voice in your head saying you can’t do it.
If you could think big, and pick one dream piece of work, what would it be and why?
The NHS has always been a dream client for me. It’s such an invaluable service, crying out for digital transformation. There is huge potential for improving the customer experience, joining up data for more intelligent and efficient services and taking the administrative weight off the shoulders of people who should be focussing on providing medical support. The possibilities are huge.
If you weren’t a strategist – what would you be?!
A bit left field but I’d probably say a landscape gardener! I absolutely love being in my garden these days, away from my desk and rolling my sleeves up.
Click here to learn more about strategy at Great State.