Getting to know you: Natalie Gross

What do you currently do?
I am Managing Partner at Amaze, a marketing and technology agency that delivers digital solutions for brands with a pan-European or global remit. As an agency, we deliver digital communications and business solutions, ranging from marketing campaigns, websites, social media, search engine optimisation (SEO), business apps etc. 
My role covers the whole spectrum, from market positioning, operations, human resources and sales, as well as working as strategic adviser across our entire client portfolio, including Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, the Co-operative Group, Dyson, Eurocamp, Henri Lloyd, Lexus, ODEON Cinemas, Toyota and Unilever. My particular focus right now is on growing our brand reputation and providing a clear roadmap – for the business and to the business. 
What is your inspiration in business?
Digital touches every business, not just its website and communications, but the whole way a business runs and operates. It presents new opportunities to innovate, deliver services, look after customers, and reach more communities and consumers. 
Most importantly, digital changes the way we behave – socially, morally, culturally and commercially. If we understand the impact technology has on human behaviour, then we can deliver truly original solutions for our clients. Original thinking forms part of our purpose, and that for me is inspirational, fun and can be career-defining for us and for our clients. 
Who do you admire?
I was privileged to start working in the digital arena in 1999, working with one of the industries first statesmen – Roy Stringer. He was a visionary and luminary and from day one I came to understand how digital was going to change our world. 
When you’re at an event full of business people in 1999 and your Creative Director is talking about Internet Clothing, everything being connected, brands being in the media/publishing industry, for those people that got it, the buzz was fantastic. For those that didn’t, the confusion and disdain was equally compelling to watch! Most of what he talked about is just happening – 13 years later. 
What was key to Roy was his understanding of Moore’s Law and vision from there. Usually, in any part of life, there are two or three underlying rules and principles that underpin and drive things. Even when everything seems to be in a state of perpetual flux, the cause or source can be constant. If you understand what that is – and don’t lose sight of it – that can help you to stop chasing the wind, especially today when the rate of change is so fast. 
Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?
I think it’s important to make mistakes, learn and bounce back quickly, so it’s always good to have done things you won’t do again!
In the office, the biggest lesson I’m still learning is to communicate with clarity and frequency. It’s impact is so strong and sometimes I still don’t do that enough. 
Personally I wish I’d networked harder. Even if it’s not naturally in your character, it’s important to push yourself. It helps you to do business but for me it would have helped me to trust my own instincts earlier in my career and have a greater belief in who I was and what I know. Business takes you on strange journeys. Where I am today I couldn’t be happier, but the journey could have been a little more straightforward!
What defines your way of doing business?
Trusting my instinct is paramount to the way I set about things. Strong decision-making is also part of me – to succeed you have to be able to make decisions constantly and not be afraid to get it wrong. 
I also have a lot of trust in and expectation of the people around me. This can be a double-edged sword but it allows for the people who are going to succeed (with the right support) to do that quicker than they maybe would in other companies. 
Building a business we can all believe in is also key. We have a strong purpose for what our business stands for and for me to have a core set of beliefs is important. 
We also invest a lot of time and energy on building strong relationships with our clients. Going the extra mile to deliver for a customer is about supporting the individuals we work with as well as the business itself. We love nothing more than positive endorsements of our commitment to what we do. I’m not being an idealist in that we don’t always get it right – thankfully most of the time we do!
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Have a clear purpose – when we were defining ours we focused on understanding and verbalising what gets us out of bed in the morning. One tool we used was a video we saw on TED by Simon Sinek. I don’t necessarily agree with some of the content but it really is a simple premise that we found useful in looking at our business. 
Understand what your business will look like in five years time – digital will change every industry – service; retail; manufacturing. How will you future-proof your business and leverage the change digital brings?
Exploit every channel to market – not just direct to end customer/consumer. What social channels and networks can you tap into? How are people searching for the type of products and services you offer? What supplier networks exists that you could tap into? Have a clear understanding of the ecosystem that surrounds your new company.
Focus your efforts on getting a strong customer reference – quickly. How your customers use your product is key! 
Be interesting and different in the way you present yourself – creativity is for everyone and every industry.
Know your customer – their business, them as people. People buy from people is one of the greatest truisms.
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