We sat down with Keith White, the office lead of our Leeds and Manchester offices, to learn more about him and his plans for the Northern UK Credera offices. Keith shares about his journey to Credera, opens up about his interests outside of work, and shares what excites him most for the future of these offices.
Tell us about your journey to becoming the Northern UK lead for Credera.
Having led my first ecommerce program designing and launching buyepson.co.uk for Epson UK in 1999, I took the leap into consulting and joined IBM BCS in 2000 and continued to lead some very interesting and challenging ecommerce programs in the energy, automotive, and public sector fields. I went on to join PA Consulting in 2004 and then Serco Consulting in 2011.
Through these experiences I developed a real interest in the customer experience (CX) angle, fueled by a number of projects tackling the overlap between the online customer journey and the customer journey in the voice channel, as well as how to address and reduce failure demand. I’d now describe this as my shift into the recognition of the importance of experience design (XD) and where I started to learn and develop in customer journey analysis and design.
Post-Serco, I spent two years establishing a digital and CX consulting practice for Communisis, a marketing outsourcing company, and then in 2018 took a couple of years out of consulting to work as head of digital for Leeds Building Society. I joined Credera in September 2020 and it has been a great year so far.
What excites you most about the future of the Leeds and Manchester offices?
The Northern UK is a real powerhouse in digital. There are many great organizations who are genuinely wanting to make a difference to their customers and their businesses through digital and the delivery of a great customer experience. There is also a real collaborative culture with the digital economy in the North as well as real energy that you can see in things like Leeds Digital Festival (here’s a recent recap of our presentation there) and Digital City Festival (Manchester).
I think the team we have and are developing across the two Northern offices give us a real platform for exciting growth. The exciting thing is that we have the opportunity to keep shaping that future for ourselves.
What are your passions outside of work?
Outside of work I’m usually doing one of a few things:
Playing guitar. I first started learning when I was 12 years old and have played in a few bands over the years, recording a few times. Being in a professional studio is always fun! My preferred style is blues-rock, though these days I am probably most often found playing acoustic at church on a Sunday (but with a touch of rockiness whenever I can get away with it!).
Trying to exercise and stay fit. I play a bit of tennis and play in a club league at David Lloyd in North Leeds, though often giving a few years in age and fitness away to my opponents. It’s still a good way to test fitness and get some exercise. Additionally, in the last six months I’ve started cycling again and will try to get an hour’s ride in after a day’s work at home whenever I can.
Watching rugby league. During the summer, watching rugby league is near the top of the list. I’m a born and bred Warrington fan and have been supporting ‘the Wires’ since I was a child, so over 50 years now. I try to get to a few games during the season and those I can’t get to, if they are on TV, I’ll make a point of organizing my time to watch. It’s a shame the Rugby League World Cup has been postponed to 2022, but I’m still looking forward to it. England have a genuine chance to win this time, though Australia are probably still favorites.
Teaching at my church. I’m also a licensed lay minister for the Church of England and also a tutor in ethics and biblical studies for the Leeds School of Ministry. These activities keep me on my toes and add a nice different dimension to the week.
What is a personal goal you’re currently working toward?
I have a couple. During the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic I made the decision that I’d use lockdown to start getting fit and losing weight. I’ve lost three and a half stone [about 50 pounds] so far and have a target of losing another stone and a half by Christmas 2021!
Alongside that I am currently studying for a post-graduate diploma in theology and, time permitting, will take that on for one more year to secure a master’s degree.
How would you describe your approach to leadership?
My preference is for a collaborative style of leadership. At Credera, we are fortunate to work with great people who care about they are doing, are always looking to learn and improve, and start every task wanting to do the best they can. As a leader, my job is to create the space and direction for the team to succeed. That means listening and learning as much as it means speaking and directing.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?
Probably that I don’t and can’t know everything. Continuing to be open to listen, learn, and recognize where I need help and to ask for it are important lessons.
Asking for help is really a strength, not a weakness.
Another key lesson was the value of treating people as individuals and valuing diversity. Very early in my career, my first role as a team leader working for a software house, I set out to treat everyone in the team equally. I thought that would be the fair way to lead. It almost but didn’t quite work as I didn’t take into account, and probably wasn’t equipped or taught how to handle, the differences between people in the team and how they needed to be supported and managed.
I learned the hard way as a team leader I needed to listen to my team to understand what they need from me as an individual and to flex my approach to meet their needs. It was an early introduction to the importance of servant leadership.
What are your top recommendations of things to do in Leeds and Manchester?
In Leeds I’d say definitely get to a Super League game at Headingley. Preferably Leeds Rhinos versus Warrington. The atmosphere is always electric and the rugby league fast, hard, and uncompromising. If you are in Manchester, then get over to either Warrington or Wigan and watch a Warrington versus Wigan derby. It’s the same rugby, but definitely not for the faint hearted.
In either Leeds or Manchester, get to a Lancashire versus Yorkshire T20 (cricket) match. 20 overs a side, quick, big hitting cricket with a rowdy crowd. I went to the T20 match at Headingley (Leeds so Yorkshire’s home ground) in 2019 when Lancashire won (of course!) and it was a fantastic evening.
Food wise in Leeds, given I live in Leeds now, I’d strongly recommend Tharavadu, it is an amazing restaurant with the best Kerala cuisine I’ve experienced and an Indian restaurant in the Michelin guide!
Interested in Working at Credera?
Are you seeking a career at a great workplace? Consider taking the next step on your professional journey with Credera. Check out our open opportunities, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, or check out our Manchester or Leeds office pages to learn more about those offices.
Credera has many offices and incredible leaders around the world. Learn more about them here.