Meet David Spears - Chief Experience Officer
Posted in April 2023
Branding Science Group recently announced the creation of a brand-new role, that of Chief Experience Officer (CXO). This development marks a significant milestone for the company, and to give us the inside scoop on what this means for the future of Branding Science Group, we sat down with the newly promoted CXO, David Spears.
So, what is a CXO and what does it do?
A CXO is responsible for ensuring a great customer experience for our clients. You achieve that by making sure every employee is equipped to do their job to the highest possible standard. This means considering the resources available, the training they are given and the technology they have access to. Making people’s jobs as simple and efficient as possible means that they have more time to focus on the needs and the challenges of their clients. So, in the short term, I’m mostly focussing on the employee experience and making improvements there, but with one eye on what an ideal client experience looks likes and how we’re going to achieve that.
Why has Branding Science created this role now?
The short answer is growth. The business has grown from a small company with only a few employees to one that has over 160 people in several offices worldwide. We have a number of different teams including fieldwork, consulting, insights, and visualisation and media, so it’s important to make sure that there’s someone in the company who is focused on ensuring that all clients, wherever they’re based and whatever the context of their engagement with us are getting what they need. More than that, it’s about ensuring our employees are equipped to deliver what our clients need.
This isn’t just a new role for Branding Science, it’s a new role for you too. So why this role? What do you find most exciting about this opportunity?
It’s a new role for me, but I’ve been in the industry for over twenty years, running projects, leading teams, and managing accounts so it’s not unfamiliar territory. I have a lot of experience of working with clients across the healthcare sector and I have a deep understanding of what constitutes a ‘good’ outcome for them. It’s the same with employees. I’ve worked with many different people and many different teams over the years that I’ve built up an almost intuitive sense of what works and what people need.
One of the most satisfying and exciting things about this role is that I now have a global remit. It has really opened my eyes to how the entire business fits together and understanding the different perspectives of people across the business. When your role is very focused on a single geography or methodology, you only have a narrow purview of what the business is doing. I have found it very gratifying to think more holistically about the business and it has really reinvigorated me professionally. The ability to think bigger about my perspective and potential impact on the people in the company, our clients and ultimately the patients is incredibly exciting.
So how did you get here? What does your journey to CXO look like?
If I’m being honest, I fell into market research, but I’m glad I did. I was in a doctoral program in sociology, but once I made the determination that I was not going to be an academic, I realised that the skills I had acquired in my program made a good match for market research. I liked working in small teams and I enjoyed the problem-solving aspect of the work and I was quite good at it. Eventually I moved into a managerial role where I was less involved in day-to-day activities of projects and more focussed on client relationships. My role became much more about advising and mentoring a group of people who were executing and delivering projects. I had never really thought of myself as someone who took a lot of pleasure in helping others learn but I really enjoyed that aspect of my roles.
In my previous role where I worked for 10 years, I had a great mentor. I learned so much from her and really appreciate everything she taught me. Being approachable and passing on your knowledge and wisdom to newer team members is something that is really important at Branding Science Group. It’s one of the reasons I joined the company and one of the aspects of my job that I enjoy most. Now, as CXO I get to take that to the next level. I’m really excited about leading the way in helping team members grow and improve and be the best they can be.
What do you think makes Branding Science such a great place to work?
It starts at the top like any business. Peter [Branding Science Group CEO Peter Cunningham] is a great leader. He has ambitious goals and challenges his team to over perform, but he’s not a micromanager. He lets the team do what they have to and gives them space to think about new ways to succeed. I think he recognises that success can come in many forms and he’s open to new ideas and being challenged when other people have different ideas to him.
It starts there and I think its how we hire. In any professional service business you’re looking to hire people who are smart, organised, and driven, but we’re also looking for people who have balance in their lives, who have empathy for others and who are willing to make a meaningful day to day contribution to a culture that’s collaborative, fair minded and productive. I think when you have a focus on hiring, training, managing and mentoring people in that way, it produces a team of people who look out for each other. They pull towards a common goal. When there are challenges or issues or frustrations you can talk about them in a safe way and feel like you can come to a resolution that will, leave everyone satisfied with the direction you go in. That’s always a big part of it.