Antony Bream, Managing Director of Ribbit Consulting, speaks to The Industry Leaders about the importance of software and technology in the business environment. Antony's work helps startups maximise their potential, allowing their founders to grow along with them. Read his story, here.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
Coming from an engineering background, I started my career looking at how computer software can build engineering projects and solve manufacturing issues. I was lucky enough to work with some amazing companies such as NEC mobile phones, Benetton formula one, JCB and Royal Ordnance.
From an R&D and quality background, I swiftly moved through the support ranks, from project management to sales. If we fast forward many years, I now work closely with the founders of startups and scaleups to help their companies reach their full potential and, for founders personally, to reach the next level through a combination of advisory, coaching skills and experience.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I have always been fascinated with people, process, and psychology, so combining all three into a consulting and advisory practice seemed like an obvious choice. I find it really helps my customers look at their habitual strategy execution and gives them an ability to solve personal and professional issues to empower and free them up from any self-doubt or reservations. This helps them become the best leaders they can be.
What gets you excited about your industry?
Software has been at the leading edge of innovation for over 30 years now, and what amazes me is how it continues to innovate and play such an essential part in every person’s life on the planet.
From financial inclusion for the 3.3 billion people who don’t have access to a bank account, tracking the spread of the Covid-19 virus and its variants to booking doctor appointments and remote diagnosis via mobile phone, the use of software is pushing boundaries that affect our day-to-day lives in so many ways and continues to evolve.
In my work, I come across so many people with so many great innovations that software is helping realise but also make so readily available to everybody with an internet connection across the world.
With the evolution of blockchain, machine learning, artificial intelligence and robots, the limits are endless regarding where and how technology can help as we approach and tackle important issues such as climate change and current and future pandemics.
Wearable devices and the Internet of Things will become more prevalent and affect our everyday lives even more, allowing us to connect to more people more quickly, sharing findings, learnings and advice to help us all lead a more fulfilled and informed life.
What’s not to be excited about that?!
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
You’ve got two ears and one mouth - use them in that proportion to listen more and speak less!
How do you support aspiring leaders in your field?
I support them through a combination of coaching and advisory using psychodynamic and positive intelligence-based coaching techniques to really help my clients take control. I then realise where their strengths and weaknesses lie and help them reach their full potential for both themselves and their businesses by giving them the confidence to take the leap to reach their full potential.
As we grow up, we learn and use techniques to accommodate and survive in the world around us, and they form our beliefs and values but also program our brains to think and operate in a certain way.
As we mature into adults, we face different problems and factors, particularly in relationships, whether career or personal. Those techniques instilled in our early years actually work against us.
So, by using a combination of psychodynamic based coaching techniques, I can help my clients get a better understanding of themselves and the people who rely on them, and those they rely on. I help them to minimise distractions and give them focus on becoming the best leaders and coaches they can be for their own employees.
I also combine this with best practices and unique techniques to apply similar principles to how they take their products or services to market and help them better align their customer’s buying habits, culture, and processes to their marketing and sales strategy and execution.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I act as an advisor to a range of companies from technology and manufacturing to executive recruitment, so I can take the pulse of changing patterns, trends, themes and market dynamics.
I also act as a thought leader in using software across industries such as financial services by actively posting research, ideas, and analysis to help educate and inform over 12,000 professional connections worldwide.
I contribute to research reports and further my own knowledge and skill set by regularly attending courses to learn new skills. I also actively read articles from sources such as Harvard Business Review and Mckinsey.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
Mainly where it involves people and lack of communication around strategy from the senior executives leading to confusion and motivational issues across the company.
I recently attended a course where I learnt about the Abilene paradox, where companies are either immersed in agreement management or, more commonly, conflict management due to a lack of clarity on strategy. This leads to groups of employees making their assumptions about the company strategy, where they fit into that, what part they play, and how to know once they’ve reached their goals in that journey. But as these small groups all come to their own assumptions, which are often coming from unclear communications, they end up conflicting with each other, and you can imagine what that means.
So I tend to get involved in organisations where I need to coach and teach founders or leaders that clarity of strategy and consistency of communication is key. However, with so many day-to-day distractions and ever-changing priorities, this discipline can easily be lost or ignored.
One lesson I have learnt is you hire good staff because they know their jobs, but without clarity of roles and responsibilities and a clear strategy roadmap, it doesn’t take long for disillusionment and lack of motivation to creep in, affecting company morale and employee’s ability to succeed.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Donate it all to help educate people on climate change, the world’s most significant collective problem, to solve post-pandemic by setting up a company to build an app.
We all need to ask ourselves the question, “Am I part of the problem or part of the solution for climate change?”. For those who want to be part of the solution but don’t have the know-how, we need to educate them on what they can do, and for those who remain part of the problem, we also need to educate and incentivise them to turn that around.
The clock is ticking, and a carrot and stick approach won’t necessarily work here as we need to rely on each person on this planet to take responsibility to save it, so I would set up a software company to build an app allowing education and incentives to be easily available and to help spread the word!
How do you switch off after a day at work?
Taking my dog for a walk along the beach, mountain biking, cooking, and tennis usually do the job!
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
Prioritise technology to help enable people to tackle climate change.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, as it professes, teaches important life lessons and skills.
How should people connect with you?
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