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Webinar: ‘The Future of Health’ with Tracy Garrad – CEO, AXA Health

One shared outcome of the pandemic has to be the relevance of healthcare to all of us – no matter where we live, our age, or our profession. Globally, health has become an even more pressing priority for us all. COVID has accelerated issues in our healthcare system, highlighting inequalities, the need for greater personalisation in healthcare and also stressing an urgent requirement for easy remote access to it.

Tracy Garrad, CEO of AXA Health, has been at the helm of the Healthcare arm of AXA throughout the pandemic. She joined AXA from HSBC, where she held a variety of senior management roles, including Chief Executive of First Direct and Chief Executive of HSBC in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. We wanted to know how Tracy has dealt with the challenges of the pandemic in an industry at the forefront of the crisis, how the business has adapted and what healthcare will look like in the future. 

In our ‘Stories from the C-Suite’ series, we talk to CEOs who we believe are expert storytellers about the challenges of leading through change, and what the next stage in the journey is for them. 

We explored topics such as: 

  • The impact of the pandemic on the health industry
  • AXA’s plan to improve its customers’ healthcare and general wellbeing moving forwards
  • How Tracy has led through such difficult times, and what she has learnt about leadership

As it becomes clear that this crisis has changed how people live, work and spend their free time, successful business leaders will need to continue adjusting to these seismic societal shifts by staying nimble, flexible and creatively future-proofing their organisations.

Watch this highly relevant conversation now by entering your details.

Webinar: ‘Food for thought’ with Duncan Everett – CEO, Noble Foods

The past year has thrown a lot up in the air – our plans, work, where we go and who we can see – but one thing has remained a constant in our lives: the food we eat. We have relied on stable food supplies throughout the pandemic and briefly, back in March 2020, when supermarket shelves were bled dry, we glimpsed the serious risks of losing control over our food supply. Duncan Everett has been at the heart of the food industry for over 20 years. He took over the role of CEO at Noble Foods, the UK’s largest egg producer in September 2020, during very turbulent times. Before Noble Foods, he was CEO at Kerry Foods, having joined its graduate programme in 1995 after studying economics. From this unique position, having experienced and led two different food companies during the pandemic, we wanted to know what Duncan has learnt and what he will focus on moving forwards.

In our ‘Stories from the C-Suite’ series, we talk to CEOs who we believe are expert storytellers about the challenges of leading through change and what the next stage in the journey is for them. 

We explored topics such as: 

  • The impact of the pandemic on the food industry
  • The sustainability challenges the food industry faces and how will they be tackled 
  • Future-proofing the industry so it is ready for innovation and transformation
  • The future of the world’s food supply

As it becomes clear that the pandemic has changed how people live, work and spend their free time, successful business leaders will need to continue adjusting to these seismic societal shifts by staying nimble, flexible and creatively future-proofing their organisations.

Watch this highly relevant conversation now by entering your details.

Storytelling helps leaders navigate choppy waters

In our article, featured in The Times Future of Work supplement, we explain how inspirational leadership is a core requirement for high-performing businesses in 2021. Moreover, storytelling has become a recognised skill for leaders in organisations worldwide and every industry sector. To attract and retain talent – and indeed customers – leaders need to be authentic, empowering, collaborative, involving, open to ideas and encouraging dialogue within their teams to solve complex problems and share best practice. 

In short, a business’s differentiator comes down to its people: how they personify the brand through their actions and behaviours, how this builds corporate trust, customer acquisition and loyalty. 

And for leaders to win over their people – to bring them with them on a journey of uncertainty and change – they need to win hearts and minds; create meaning and purpose in the workplace. It’s not enough to connect people rationally to change. Leaders need to create an emotional connection in order to stimulate the energy and collective spirit needed to power their teams through challenging times, where change is embraced rather than seen as a threat. And yet winning hearts and minds is without doubt one of the hardest parts of change to achieve.

What draws us to a story, and how exactly does it influence how we think, feel and act?

To read more out more about how the power and influence of storytelling can accelerate change and transform performance, and to get access to the full Raconteur Future of Work supplement published in The Times, fill in the form on this page.

StoryLive: discover the power of a story-driven virtual event

StoryLive is our live virtual event solution. Using the latest innovations in virtual conferences, CGI, and interactive technology, we create an unrivalled level of emotional connection and immersion through our business storytelling programmes. Developed with organisations as a part of story-driven business transformation, the only limit to what can be achieved is imagination.

Virtual events have never been so necessary. In this time of social distancing, working remotely and heightened uncertainty, organisational connectivity is essential. Humans are social animals. Interacting as a group or a ‘tribe’ is a fundamental need we have for our sense of wellbeing, and to enable us to make sense of the world and what is going on around us. So events that bring people together – even if online – provide an opportunity to build a sense of community – a space for leaders to open themselves up to those around them and hear their colleagues’ voices. 

At The Storytellers, we have created and hosted virtual gatherings and experiences for our clients for many years now. We have long blended physical and virtual environments in corporate events, and inspired and engaged people on an emotional level through storytelling and narrative. Across our work with over 180 major organisations, we have discovered what makes a powerful and memorable virtual event. 

StoryLive brings together our knowledge of putting on quality events with the endless possibilities of the virtual world.

There are three key components which make up any inspiring and memorable story-driven event. Discover more by downloading our ebook in full by completing the form on this page, and reach out to us if you need guidance and support in connecting your organisation through a virtual event. To arrange a demo with us, scroll to the bottom of this page and fill out the form and we will get in touch.

Webinar: ‘Talking Banking’ with Steven Cooper – CEO, C. Hoare & Co.

Watch the next episode in our ‘Stories from the C-suite’ webinar series, where we talked to Steven Cooper, CEO of the private bank C. Hoare & Co. His trajectory from a big banking behemoth with Barclays, to a smaller, private client bank gives him a unique insight into the evolution of banking. During our conversation, we explored how he has adapted to these different banking environments with their distinctive cultures. Simply fill in the details on this page to get access to the recording.

The challenges created by the pandemic are showing no sign of slowing down, and crises tend to accelerate change and innovation. As it becomes clear that this is changing how people live, work and spend their free time, successful business leaders will adjust to these seismic societal shifts by staying nimble, flexible and creatively future-proofing their organisations. 

In our ‘Stories from the C-suite’ series, we talk to CEOs who we believe are expert storytellers about the challenges of leading through change and what the next stage in the journey is for them. In this episode, Steven shared his insights into balancing a need to modernise to respond to customers ever-changing demands, while retaining a bespoke and unique banking experience rooted in a rich legacy of 350 years.

We covered topics such as:

  • The key to longevity, resilience and strength in banking to overcome major crises, including the pandemic 
  • The future of banking in the wake of COVID-19
  • What’s next as Steven’s next chapter at Aldemore, a new breed of challenger bank, begins in 2021

Watch this highly relevant conversation now by entering your details.

Welcome to the next episode…

The new year has already brought a spate of major events that have signalled what is to come in the third decade of this millennium. Climate change, Big Tech, Brexit and the upcoming US election are all big issues that are likely to dominate our headlines in 2020 and beyond. At The Storytellers, we not only work with narrative structure, but we think in it. And as we launch into the next decade, we have a distinct feeling that we are moving into the third episode of a story. 

We know that all great stories have underlying structural similarities. Since humans started telling stories at the dawn of time, motifs in fiction have reoccurred time and time again. As John Yorke has written, ‘all stories are forged from the same template’. The three-act structure, or the trilogy, can be traced through epic stories ranging from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, to George Lucas’s film franchise Star Wars. Such works are defined by their episodic style and diversity of self-contained journeys. Indeed, episodic storytelling is the art of telling the story of an epic journey via fractural, smaller-scale episodes that are interconnected and link thematically. This tripartite narrative structure is often referred to as having three acts: the Setup, the Confrontation and the Resolution. 

So, how did this epic story start? In narrative fiction, the first act sets up the world in which the characters live, and our story starts with a party. The first decade was welcomed with a swell of optimism and positivity; we all remember the worldwide celebrations that brought in the millennium. 

However, this ‘ordinary world’ is then disrupted by an inciting incident that confronts the protagonist and challenges their way of life. The legacy of the 2000s has been defined by two major, inciting shocks to the world: 9/11 and the 2008 financial crash. It would not be exaggerating to argue that these two events changed the world. They revealed the dangers of technology, incited widespread outrage and long-lasting pain. 

The way global leaders responded to these events has defined our present. After 9/11, in the U.S., Bush launched the War in Afghanistan and a new narrative of foreign policy for the West was instigated. The costs of the attack have been estimated at $2.126 trillion including the immediate physical damages of the attack, the long-term increased defence spending and the general war costs (Amadeo, The Balance). 9/11 can be seen as part of a chain of events that led to the U.S. debt crisis and exasperated the 2008 crash. The implications of the austerity and inequality that followed arguably drove voters to populist politics – resulting in the presidency of Donald Trump and the ascendancy of right-wing ideology. 

These global shocks took us out of our ordinary world and threw us into the second episode. In this act we find the ‘rising action’ as the protagonist attempts to resolve the problem initiated in Act One, but often finds themselves in even murkier waters. Consider the second novel in Tolkien’s trilogy, The Two Towers; the book sets up multiple conflicts and creates even more questions for the reader. As the journalist John Lanchester states in a seminal article about the 2008 crash, ‘the crisis exacerbated fault lines running through contemporary societies, fault lines of city and country, old and young, cosmopolitan and nationalist’ (The Times, 2018). For the UK, these fault lines culminated in a final battle: Brexit. Ultimately, the 2010s were a bit of a slog, an episode of hardship during which protagonists were unable to resolve their problems. Since 2010, the UK has been dominated by austerity measures that have cut nearly £30 billion to welfare payments, housing subsidies and social services (Mueller, NY Times). In addition, businesses have been hurt and their confidence rocked. This period of stagnation is dramatized in the final imagery of The Two Towers. As Frodo lies paralysed and comatose at the end of the book, he is a far cry from his heroic self. 

So we arrive into the 2020s armed with new knowledge and new questions. We may be exhausted, but we are ready to fight again. We now know that as a nation we will live outside the EU, we hope to come out of austerity and find new ways of working with technology. The government has pledged to reinstate the 20,000 police officers lost during austerity and deliver 50,000 more nurses. The Australian bush fires have demonstrated the true scale of climate change, and we know that we must work fast to halt further global warming. Businesses will move towards sustainability and act to reduce their carbon footprint more than ever. We have seen the impact of technology and recognise the need for positive innovation. Already, social movements such as ‘tech for good’ are helping businesses deliver sustainable development goals and social value through technology. 

The third act is one of resolution and the tying up of loose ends. Of course, no final film or book ever goes without its major battles or dramatic events – we expect lots of these in the next decade. However, we are now at a point where we are looking for solutions, rather than inciting drama. Y.B. Yeats said that “Life is a spiral staircase… the journey is both repetitious and progressive; we go both round and upward”. Indeed, just like every chapter, every decade has its own arc – a repetition that is mirrored throughout our own lives. And while sometimes it feels like we are stuck in a rut – like the unwitting hero Frodo Baggins during The Two Towers who is wracked with doubt and loathing. In reality, we are always learning, moving forward and progressing. In this new decade we might just see the hero resolve the journey, and the ongoing battles finally subside.

The previous two decades have reiterated that change is an inevitable, posing a continual challenge to both organisations and wider society. This ongoing sense of turbulence and change has developed the notion of ‘VUCA’, the concept that we live in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times. Leaders have to keep pace with the world around them and need new approaches to do so. We’ve found that narrative is an essential component for businesses to embark on a successful change journey. In this world of episodic stories, businesses can anchor themselves with a strong narrative that connects them to reality and the everyday stories that surround us. If the epic journey is made clear, then the path forward into the highly unpredictable next decade will be less foreboding. Rather, we can see the future as an exciting challenge for us all. 

Happy 2020!