In the week that Freshminds’ Managing Director James Callander celebrates his 20th anniversary with the firm, we reflect on the impact of some of the people who have worked here and championed Freshminds’ values and ambitions.
Freshminds’ focus has always been to deliver smart, expert people into the right business at the right time, whether it be for projects, interim support, research, consultancy or permanent hires.
Spanning three decades, we have continuously and successfully solved thousands of business problems, using tens of thousands of analysts and consultants taken from our enviable network.
But who has been behind all of this activity?
The magic behind the curtain
Freshminds is a consultancy that not only delivers brilliant candidates and consultants to clients on demand, it also nurtures amazing talent from within its own team.
Our very own Hall of Fame includes a Senior Director at Google; the Founder of Raconteur; the Chief Commercial Officer of Southampton Football Club, the CCO of Made.com, and CEO of Mrs Alice.
We also count the founder of Pure; a Managing Director at WIRED; a senior Policy Analyst at the House of Lords; and Chief Client Officer at Ipsos UK amongst our alumni, as well as dozens more.
“…A culture of shared ambition with people determined to succeed and grow a phenomenal career, while helping their desk mates at the same time”.
Ruth Handcock, CEO, Octopus Investments
Adam Clements, joint MD at Freshminds, comments:
"We are always striving to improve career progression, reward, learning and development and our culture at Freshminds so that no one ever wants to leave us! Sadly some superstars do move on occasionally and we are hugely proud of the things that they have gone on to achieve in their careers and hope that we might have helped them do that in some small way."
While now hailing from very different roles and sectors, what do Freshminds’ alumni recognise about its culture?
Annabel Jack, previously Chief Commercial Officer at MADE.com and Freshminds’ first Marketing Manager, says: “I credit Freshminds hugely for the most rewarding and best start to my career – this company really knows how to bring people together to collectively get more than the sum of its parts. Freshminds was full of such brilliant people… fun, rewarding and generous.”
Catherine Crump worked at Freshminds for many years before moving to WIRED UK as Managing Director to develop the WIRED Consulting proposition. She remembers a similar energy:
“The culture is so unique – over my 14 years there, people cared about doing amazing work, they pushed boundaries to go the extra mile, they worked hard, they socialised together and, despite high levels of individual autonomy, it always felt like a supportive team environment.”
“Amongst other skills that I was able to develop in a small and entrepreneurial company were leadership, people management, commercial acumen, problem solving, project and programme design, client management.
Ruth Handcock, now CEO of Octopus Investments, a 13bn AuM asset manager, looks back on her experiences at Freshminds, where she ran a practice area focusing on Financial and Professional Services.
“Freshminds was my first immersion into how to run a successful, entrepreneurial organisation. Fundamentally it taught me the skills needed to run my own P&L while delivering outstanding insight to senior executives.
“It was a culture of shared ambition with people determined to succeed and grow a phenomenal career, while helping their desk mates at the same time”.
“The entrepreneurial culture set right at the outset really did stay in place and was kept alive as the company evolved and scaled.”
Catherine Crump, MD, WIRED Consulting
The industry with the highest turnover rate, according to LinkedIn data published and updated in 2022, is Professional Services — a sector that includes accounting firms, IT and business consulting organisations. The average annual turnover is 13.4%, against an overall industry average of 10.6%.
It’s clear that high turnover can lead to a lack of productivity – but a generous and nurturing culture can reduce this, and many Freshminds consultants have stayed at the company way longer than average - long enough to work across many different departments and positions.
“In my time at Freshminds I had a range of roles which provided so many opportunities to develop my skills”, recalls Crump. “Head of Retail and Consumer Goods, Head of Public Services, Client Services Director, Deputy MD, and then CEO.”
“I think the entrepreneurial culture set right at the outset really did stay in place and was kept alive as the company evolved and scaled.”
Roshana Gammampila moved from Freshminds to PwC in 2015, then to a senior position at Toyota Connected, and has since taken on the running of a 75 year old tea estate and factory in Sri Lanka.
“Freshminds had a definitive impact on my career and, in particular on my understanding of how to build strong team cultures. While both PwC and Toyota are large organisations, in both cases, I was tasked with scaling teams and developing new ventures / business functions. Integral to this was the ability to identify top talent and create an environment in which smart people could work together as effectively as possible.
And, having worked with the Freshminds management team, I feel I learnt from the best.”
“There aren’t many places where such an atmosphere and feeling of togetherness exists.
I was a Freshminder, and I’m proud to say so, looking back. I’ve tried to create that atmosphere wherever I’ve gone since – the desire to do great work with great people and have fun doing it.”
Richie Jones, Chief Client Officer, Ipsos
Hailing from a completely different industry sector is Charlie Boss, who left Freshminds for The Football Association and has now joined Southampton Football Club as Chief Commercial Officer. He also recalls a focus on being “resilient and entrepreneurial” – skills that he has taken on to every job since. “I also feel that we shared a common set of values and aspirations as a team – not just professionally.”
“I was trusted to go in front of senior clients early on in my career, which helped to build confidence in interacting at that level thereafter.”
Charlie Osmond, one of the founders of the business from back in 2000, has channelled some of the learnings from his time at Freshminds into the launch and running of a new business, Triptease, a technology firm serving thousands of hotels across the world.
“Freshminds was amazing for me", he says. "I learned that attitude and determination were often far more important than specific experience when it came to hiring people and building a business.”
It’s clear that Freshminds has been a springboard for a wide variety of talented individuals – who continue to build their experience and profile in varied sectors. But not everyone has developed their careers elsewhere – Managing Director James Callander has been the single source of continuity through almost all of Freshminds’ history, with 14th April 2023 marking 20 years with the company.
“It’s been a privilege working with such a wide variety of people, for so many years, and seeing them develop into the business, and also launch into vital new roles in other organisations. I’m proud that Freshminds has played some part in their development while the Freshminds network continues to grow.
“Twenty years has gone in a flash and it feels good to look back and see what we have achieved. We also look forward, and anticipate great things to come – as we cement our position as one of the pioneering providers of on-demand consulting talent in Europe and the US. Our valued staff – both past and present – have been fundamental to us building a platform for our continued growth and development.”
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For more information about Freshminds – or to speak to some of the current talented team about your business or project requirements, get in touch here.