Interview: Good Growth CEO and Co-Founder, James Hammersley

Good Growth People - James Hammersley

After an extremely busy few months centred around an ever evolving proposition, an acquisition, and delivering client work, James Hammersley sat down with George Hall to talk through his current feelings, outlook and hopes for the future.

GH: James it’s been an incredible start to 2023 – how do you feel?

JH: There are lots of feelings I’m experiencing right now! But, in one word – excited. To be frank, when you acquire a business, you go through a process of due diligence in order to de-risk the acquisition, but the biggest validation we needed was to be sure that the proposition was right, and that it would succeed. That’s really hard to do without going to market, so the big test was always going to be how clients responded when we put this in front of them. I’ve been absolutely staggered by the reaction that we’ve had – brands have communicated to us how frustrated they are with their processes for implementing change, which we can now help them to at breakneck speed. So as well as being excited, I’m delighted!

GH: Two businesses coming together is obviously challenging, how has the integration gone so far?

JH: It’s a great question, and it’s something that is always at the front of your mind when multiple groups come together. Before any structure of the acquisition was discussed, before any commercials and logistics, we wanted to make sure that the people and culture side of things was right. So when I spent time with the team in Birmingham, and found them to be culturally a great fit with what we already had at Good Growth, it was a great feeling. They are problem solvers and extremely client focused. We’re continuing to grapple with some geographical changes – we’ve got a team in Exeter, one in Birmingham, and people in London, so we’re beginning to merge towards Bristol as a central hub – but all in good time. Our teams are instinctively working well together – it’s an absolute joy to watch and it makes me extremely proud and also inspired!

GH: How has Good Growth’s proposition changed since the acquisition?

JH: The biggest fundamental change is that we can build things that clients can’t build, and we can deploy them. That’s extraordinary – and that’s the big difference now. We were always able to quantify failure, identify routes to fix what we had uncovered, but in terms of implementation we didn’t always have the answers that we wanted. But now, we’re in a position where we can actually solve those issues, and not only solve them – but solve them at pace, and with far less risk than clients would encounter normal.

GH: How do you feel about the future from a business viewpoint?

JH: Very positive! In fact, very, very, very positive. Look, there are a few risks, as there always are in an industry like ours and when two companies come together. We’re talking to more people in the market and they’re super excited, and the market engagement is broader and deeper. Our proposition is far more compelling and far more exciting, but we still don’t control internal decision making from prospects and clients. That’s always a risk for businesses like us, but I’m confident we can overcome it.

We can win, service and deliver extraordinary projects that brands can’t – and that’s a huge opportunity for us. I love putting our team in front of clients and seeing the amazed looks on their faces. I was in a meeting recently showcasing our Tech to the Chairman of a very well known Global retailer, and they were so taken aback by what we showed that they pulled the CEO out of a meeting to show them. It was incredible to watch, but that’s the sort of impact that we’re having!

GH: How have clients responded to the new proposition?

JH: We’ve had feedback that I never thought we would have. As I mentioned, people stop meetings to show the technology and the impact it has to their peers and colleagues, and I’ve never seen that before. When you get referred to as a ‘magician’ in a meeting, you know you’re doing something right. We’ve had a particularly fantastic reaction across Retail, Telco and Media – these are big companies we’re talking to, and there are some recurring themes that we’re seeing. The biggest frustration of senior stakeholders is that they know what their strategy is and how it should be executed – but the pace and scale of change they can implement internally is too risky, too expensive and takes too long – all things that we can mitigate and solve. It’s liberating, really.

GH: And finally, any closing remarks or messages to the team at Good Growth?

JH: Where do I start? As a business owner and a CEO, you want to make sure you’re surrounded by the best people possible, and I feel like that’s what we’ve got here. The team constantly challenge each other to deliver the best possible work for clients, and it’s extremely inspiring to see. It’s understandably been a huge challenge for everybody, you need to process what’s happened, understand the nuances of a really impressive new piece of technology, and also change your ways of working, but every single person at Good Growth has been a total asset to the organisation. To say I’m inspired on a daily basis by my team almost feels like an understatement. They’ve been incredible.