The digital cream of London: Interview with Andrew Grill, The Practical Futurist
As we prepare for the sixth Digital Leaders Banquet in London, which brings together the UK’s most influential senior marketing leaders, we invited digital transformation thought leader and speaker Andrew Grill to reflect on his career, and tell us what keeps him coming back to the event year after year.
“I wouldn’t call myself a [digital] whisperer,” Andrew Grill says, after describing what he does as he would to someone he’d just met. It’s not an unfair description, though. “I translate all this digital stuff… into meaningful, bite-size understandable language that people can engage with.”
Whisperer or not, over the last two decades, Andrew Grill has served as a digital transformation communicator of sorts, helping businesses get on board with their digital futures.
During his career, he’s spoken to and consulted for organisations all over the world, including IBM, British Airways and Unilever, to develop their digital strategies. As ‘The Practical Futurist’, he presents keynotes about digital disruption, the future workplace, and personal branding.
What do his clients, or businesses that are struggling on their digital transformation journeys need to know? “They want you to know that you understand their pain, so [when you speak to them], you’ve got to use the same language,” he says, adding that when he does talk to someone from a specific business, such as an airline, he can contextualise digital transformation in a way that makes sense to them.
Grill explains how joining the Rotary Club in Sydney as a 29-year-old prepared him for his future career in the boardroom: “I was by far the youngest person there,” Grill says. “But it meant for the next five or 10 years I could hang around people that were older than me but so much more experienced."
“I became completely comfortable, and when I walk into a boardroom, whether [it’s for] British Airways, or a bank, or whatever, I sense that I get them.”
For the sixth year running, Grill will be attending the Digital Leaders Banquet. Grill is a fairly well-connected fixture on the London digital transformation circuit (a position that he says means he’s often making introductions at the event: “Could you introduce me to X?”). So why does he choose to return to the banquet every year?
The evening is specially designed so that attendees can meet as many other people at the event as possible, as they are encouraged to move seats between meal courses.
“I meet more people that way in the industry in one place more than ever by doing that,” Grill says, adding that he meets new people throughout the afternoon, and sometimes has the opportunity to reconnect with former contacts.
“I think there’s no other event like it where you bring the digital cream of London together to actively network and there’s no expectation other than that you’re going to meet some interesting people.”
Grill concludes: “You know the people there are going to be high calibre, even if you don’t know who they are or haven’t met them, you know they’re going to be worth meeting. There is a sort of cachet that’s attached to it.”
The Digital Leaders Banquet will take place on November 30, at Ironmongers’ Hall in the City of London. Previous attendees have included Unilever, EE and Oracle. Apply to attend now.