Home Articles & Features People of the North: Martin Carr, Partner at Boardroom Consulting

People of the North: Martin Carr, Partner at Boardroom Consulting

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People of the North: Martin Carr, Partner at Boardroom Consulting
People of the North: Martin Carr, Partner at Boardroom Consulting

Launched earlier this year, boardroom consulting is a new kind of strategy consultancy that works with leaders to help them achieve clarity on what boardroom call the fundamentals of organisational identity.

boardroom help organisations to think differently about who they are, what they do and why that matters. And they do this by bringing a new approach to strategy and strategic planning that puts both purpose and participation at its heart – making organisations, places and brands ever more real, relevant and relatable to stakeholders and audiences.

From 2001 until 2016, Martin founded and then ran a 25-strong brand consultancy, before selling his share of that business three years ago. He was also a director of the DBA, Design Business Association, at that time.

From 2016 until earlier this year he has been operating as an independent strategy consultant, as well as non-exec director of two creative agencies.

During his time as an independent consultant Martin was increasingly working at the heart of organisational strategy with clients, successfully embedding new thinking beyond and more deeply than the previous boundaries of ‘brand’ and so, along with former colleague Claire Rigby, they realised the opportunity to be gained from formalising their philosophy, approach and methodology and launching the new consultancy.

What does boardroom consulting do?

Operating at the intersection of brand, audience and organisational strategy, boardroom helps to define the fundamentals of organisational identity, to help leaders create greater relevance, resonance and traction for what the organisation is and does.

We bring clarity of definition and a shared sense of purpose by helping to answer fundamental questions:

  • Who are we? To create and articulate a truly shared sense of purpose and collective goal
  • What are we here for? To create a galvanising idea that helps embed values and change at the heart of culture and of stakeholder relationships
  • Why does that matter? How can you use your unique role and purpose to be ever more inclusive and resonant for audiences, continually driving ever stronger relationships

By answering these questions, we help leaders of organisations, brands and places to create and deliver major change, by unlocking transformational thinking and galvanising support from all stakeholders and audiences.

What or who was the inspiration for the current path you are on?

As I migrated from MD of a business which required me to wear many hats, to solely a consultancy role, my appetite to make a real difference at the heart of complex organisations grew and grew.

And I’m motivated to continue to work with those leaders who recognised the value of proper strategic thinking and solutions of ‘brand’ and ‘identity’ – entirely divorced from design or comms – as primary drivers of behaviours and planning that develop long term value.

Working at this over the last couple of years, along with my colleague Claire, the realisation increasingly grew for us that no one else round here was doing this and that our experience and perspectives on how leaders can develop and use clarity of purpose and greater stakeholder participation to strengthen their organisations was of significant value.

Is there one piece of advice you wish you’d been given before you started your business?

Businesses of the type I have always worked in rely on co-operation and co-design.

And I have learned that trust, as well as shared goals and values, are absolutely essential if you are going into business with one or a small number of partners. You really find out about these when the going gets tough; if they aren’t there, business will suffer. So, I guess the advice would be to be careful about who you go into business with.

What is the one most important thing you’ve learned during the experience of running your own business?

This is the second consulting business I have launched. In the fifteen years spent running my previous company I don’t actually think there was ‘one most important thing’. Other than perhaps that, for me, the culture and core values of that type of business become increasingly more important the larger you grow.

What do you see as your future business challenges?

boardroom consulting works at the most senior level, helping to improve the performance of brands, places and organisations. Maintaining the quality of the collaborators and partners we work with – and keeping abreast of anything or anyone that can strengthen our consulting offer and keep us ahead – is going to be a challenge.

What would you like to leave as your business legacy?

We only have one work life. I want to have pushed myself, and others, to have had the conviction and confidence to deliver what we believe in and for all clients and partners to recognise that I was motivated, fair and that I cared. A lot.

What do you consider to be your biggest business achievement or success so far?

I think you can tell a lot about a business by the company it keeps and by what its employees go on to contribute.

I will always be proud to have built a start-up consultancy from scratch in Manchester that went on to work with Tate, Sport England, LEGO, Royal Mail, DHL, British Council, National Portrait Gallery and Wellcome Trust. And several of the brilliant people we hired along the way have gone on to work in some amazing roles for amazing organisations around the world.

I am absolutely delighted that now we are being trusted by, and creating long-term strategic value for, the leaders of global organisations like Natural History Museum, Wellcome Collection, ZSL London Zoo and GMCA.

When you are not running your business, what do you do to relax?

I am Chairman of People’s History Museum in Manchester and I spend quite a bit of time spreading the word and helping however I can.

I have always played sports, and now I cycle (I am a total mamil).

I am also a lifelong season ticket holder at Man City.

Otherwise, I will be found walking my dogs or reading.

What would you be doing if you weren’t running your business?

Writing novels. I wish.

Find out more about boardroom consulting

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