Growth Business Data
Michalina Leśniak
Digital Transformation Digital Advisory
Maciej Cieślukowski Emilia Adamek
People Values
Tomek Jurek
Digital Advisory Customer Experience Technology
Izabela Franke
Digital Advisory CX Strategy Retail
Jakub Nawrocki
Digital Transformation Retail
Paweł Wasilewski

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Growth Business Data
Michalina Leśniak
Digital Transformation Digital Advisory
Maciej Cieślukowski Emilia Adamek
People Values
Tomek Jurek
Digital Advisory Customer Experience Technology
Izabela Franke
Digital Advisory CX Strategy Retail
Jakub Nawrocki
Digital Transformation Retail
Paweł Wasilewski
Explore all insights

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Get to Know Future Mind: Digital Advisory Team

Get to Know Future Mind: Digital Advisory Team

Welcome to the latest edition of the Get to Know Future Mind series, where we interview our experts, offering insights into their roles and what it's like to collaborate with us. If you're into mobile development and thinking about joining us, don't forget to check out our previous article, where I had a chat with our Android Team Leads.

This time, we're turning our spotlight onto our Advisory department, a relatively recent yet invaluable addition to the Future Mind team. So, without further ado, grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and let's dive into the interview with Izabela Franke, Head of Advisory, and Kacper Urzykowski, Digital Strategy Manager.

TJ (Tomek Jurek): The Advisory department is one that relatively recently expanded our competencies, so you probably remember well the beginnings of your journey at Future Mind. Why did you decide to join us?

IF (Izabela Franke): I suppose I should start, as Future Mind Advisory began with me. After several discussions, Tomek Woźniak, our CEO & Partner, persuaded me it would be cool to do something together and convinced me it was worth taking up the challenge. He impressed me with an extensive portfolio of Future Mind’s clients and assured me that my team would have the autonomy to build things as they like. And that's how it all began.

KU (Kacper Urzykowski): I had the pleasure of collaborating with Iza in the past, and after she joined Future Mind, she reached out to me, presenting the idea for the Advisory department and asking if I'd like to join. I remember our initial conversations; I was in Saudi Arabia at the time, so due to the time difference, they took place in the afternoons. We discussed perspectives and development opportunities. Eventually, I decided to join Future Mind – the team was still in its infancy, with only three people, including Iza. What encouraged me? Firstly, the scale of the organization and – as Iza mentioned – the vision of having an impact on what we do, how we do it, and what value we deliver to clients.

Secondly, in corporate settings, you typically focus on a specific component of a project and call it a day. I hadn't had the opportunity to fully immerse myself in work for large brands before. During the recruitment process, I was promised that my time at Future Mind would be intense, engaging, and inspiring. And I wasn't disappointed – from the very first days, I had a lot of autonomy and saw tangible results of my work. It was great to receive feedback from clients who were delighted with how our projects were progressing, recognizing our work represented a new standard of quality for them.

IF: The first people who joined the Advisory team actually received a full-on pledge from me that we'd be able to do consulting on our own terms. We all had previous experiences in consulting firms, MarTech, or e-commerce agencies. The first exercise we did involved determining how we wanted to work, what we wanted to do differently from our previous workplaces, which best practices we wanted to cultivate, and what we preferred to leave behind. I remember that during our initial internal workshops, we told ourselves that work-life balance was paramount to us and that we had to prioritize it (which might sound very much like typical employer branding, but I swear, that's how it was).

TJ: For many people, the role of a Digital Consultant may sound mysterious and confusing. Could you shed some light on what your typical day looks like? What can candidates joining Advisory expect?

IF: In a nutshell, there are two types of specialists in our department: UX researchers and digital consultants. And having researchers onboard truly sets us apart. When working with clients, we've discovered that projects without a research component don't yield the same effectiveness. In our past experiences, we weren't accustomed to this level of thoroughness. While research was included in our projects before Future Mind, it was typically outsourced. Having researchers readily available every day transforms our collaboration approach and reshapes our outlook.

KU: Looking back at Future Mind before the Advisory era, we were world champions in product development. Clients would come to us with an idea for a digital product, and we'd bring it to life with top-notch standards. What Advisory brings to the table as the missing component is answering the crucial question of which specific product or feature is worth developing and why. Having researchers on our team was a godsend because when we're uncertain about something, we turn to them to conduct research that guides us in the right direction.

Without research, there's always ample room for discussion and interpretation. Once we understand the user perspective, we can make sure that the strategies we create to achieve business goals are in line with consumer needs. It's a tremendous value that ultimately translates into the usability of the digital products we create.

IF: That's 100% true, UX research is our recipe for making every project customer-centric. Thanks to having such great specialists on our team, we're able to approach projects and data differently. Now, let’s move on to digital consulting… I wonder if there are any things we don't do. One thing is certain – each member of our Advisory team brings slightly different skills to the table.

What binds us together is that we all share a broad understanding of business, technology, and users, and we have a strong desire to expand our skills. When crafting our offering, we based it on our individual strengths because each of us excels in a different area. Even though some of our services might seem niche and aren't typically sold as standalone projects, we leverage our diverse skills to tackle larger projects. Kacper, could you describe a typical consulting project?

KU: I think we actually have several types of projects. There are those where we smoothly transition into the technological analysis and development phase, and then there are purely strategic ones. But if I were to structure it, the first stage of every project is always the discovery & strategy exploration. This is the moment when we analyze the client's current situation, goals, pain points, and wow moments along the customer journey. It’s the foundation that allows us to fully grasp the challenge we're dealing with.

adv team apply now

Then, we move forward to tackle the client’s challenges using appropriate methods. There's trend analysis, where we contemplate how to ensure that the product or strategy we're crafting not only fulfills current requirements but also anticipates future, perhaps even unforeseen, market and customer needs. We also conduct thorough benchmarking, which helps us find inspiration and pinpoint best practices, not only within the client’s industry but also in seemingly unrelated sectors. Then, we search for what we can adapt from other industries to our client's situation, taking into account both business objectives and the user perspective identified through previous research.

All of this lays the groundwork for crafting a detailed action plan, whether it involves technical analysis, design, or prototyping. This stage acts as a sort of bridge between Advisory and all of Future Mind's services.

IF: I must add here that we never have two identical projects; everything depends on the client's needs. Of course, we have a defined offering, and you can read what we do on our website, but each project is the art of combining several elements and selecting techniques that will best meet the client's needs. When building the Advisory department, we decided that we didn't want to create projects that last a year and end with slides, because those slides then sit on the client's shelf and nothing happens. It's art for art's sake.

We want to provide clients with actionable insights, so we have a lot of workshops, where we create FigJam boards. Brands that want to work with us should know we won’t come to them with ready out-of-the-box solutions. We acknowledge that our clients are the experts in their own businesses, and our role is to merge their expertise with our insights and proficiency in trends and technology. It’s a collaborative journey.

TJ: Why would someone want to join you? What sets Future Mind Advisory apart in the consulting industry?

IF: Firstly, it's our very flat organizational structure, and how quickly we allow our team members to have direct contact with clients. Our employees don't attend client meetings just to click through slides in a presentation delivered by someone else.

We aim to prepare the less-experienced ones to talk about the outcomes of their work in a safe environment. It's important to me that everyone on my team can lead clients through ideas and answer questions. It's a step-by-step process; we don't throw anyone in at the deep end, but we ensure that team members have the opportunity for early contact with clients, initially as observers, and then as specialists who present their ideas. I don't want anyone on my team to feel like they're doing grunt work behind the scenes and not gaining experience in client-facing roles.

KU: Another aspect that makes us stand out is how collaboratively we work. It's tough to capture the complexity of ecosystems and concepts using Excel or slides alone.

That's why we often propose workshop sessions to clients, backed by collaboration tools like Miro or FigJam, which allow us to showcase our entire thinking process throughout the project. We heavily rely on tools like Confluence, where we compile our research findings, forming the bedrock of project knowledge that stays with the client for longer. This delivers significant and easily accessible value for our clients. Naturally, we also create slides at Future Mind, but they serve more as a recap of our actions rather than the main source of project information.

If someone has a head full of ideas they're eager to share, Future Mind is the perfect place to be. If I come up with new ideas, frameworks, or concepts, I know I can pitch them, take ownership, and give them a try. In previous workplaces, when I suggested an alternative approach to a topic or even a different use of specific tools, I often encountered pushback, with the argument that it would disrupt the team to adopt a new approach.

At Future Mind Advisory, we're constantly searching for the golden mean. Working here doesn't mean that once a standard is set, it can't be challenged. Our goal is to work smarter and meet our clients' needs more effectively. Every member of our team can share their views on a project, and that's what fuels our passion and dedication. Recently, I came across an article that pointed out something interesting – it mentioned that top-performing teams are characterized by equality in conversation turn-taking. It's something we prioritize.

TJ: And how would you describe your daily work environment and communication in the era of remote work?

IF: For me, the cornerstone of our daily communication is what we call “Advisory Daily.” Apart from project meetings, we try to gather every morning for a few minutes to discuss work challenges. During this time, everyone can speak up if they require help or are struggling with something. But it's also often a time for chatting about everyday matters, like concerts, new restaurants, or simply looking forward to the upcoming Friday together.

There has never been a day when I didn't feel like going to that meeting. In fact, I received Officevibe feedback (it’s an online platform that enables anonymous employee feedback) from one team member who mentioned that no matter what, they always feel motivated to come to work because they know we'll gather for the Daily meeting in the morning. It's a component that undoubtedly shapes our team culture and collaboration and helps us get to know each other.

Establishing such an environment is essential, especially in remote work scenarios. When facing a challenge, you must consciously acknowledge that you need help and schedule a meeting with someone to discuss it. This is a unique challenge in remote setups; in the office, you could easily turn to a colleague for assistance. Our Daily meetings provide a safe space for everyone to address their uncertainties openly.

KU: It's awesome that we can chat every day. It's helped us bond as a team. Just like Iza said, I can't imagine skipping our Daily catch-up. If we ever miss it for some reason, I find myself wondering when we'll reconnect. Especially in remote work, where face-to-face interaction is limited, establishing these little rituals is key. I reckon our entire team values it, and it's definitely a solid practice for all remote workers.

IF: I'd like to mention one more thing. When starting a new project, the whole team gathers at our Warsaw office for 2-3 days to organize workshops and understand the project. This is how we kick off each shorter project and each phase of a longer one. Our team is spread across different cities like Warsaw, Poznań, and Tri-City, and that isn't an issue. However, being a consultant may involve client meetings. At Future Mind, we're highly flexible; you can adjust your work hours to your preferences, but there's one rule – clients come first. Since client meetings are often necessary, our candidates should live and work in a place that allows easy commuting to such meetings.

TJ: What do you appreciate most about the Advisory team? What values and traits are most important to you in candidates?

IF: I like people who are eager to learn and grow. Once, during one of our early discussions before Future Mind, I asked Kacper a question about customer data platforms, and he admitted he didn't know the answer, but he said he'd find out if he got the platform's documentation.

That's exactly what I look for in candidates. We don't need know-it-alls. We need individuals who know how to seek information and connect the dots. If someone lacks these qualities, consulting probably isn't for them.

Another significant thing is honesty – we're all learning and trying new things, but it’s crucial to be able to admit when we've hit a dead end or when a particular idea wasn't the best. I also appreciate people who can separate work from their self-confidence. Just because something doesn't go as planned or isn't as good as expected doesn't mean our ideas are bad or there's something wrong with us. This work ultimately requires some courage to experiment.

Consulting isn't for those who prioritize stability above all else because we won't move forward without trying new things and asking ourselves and our clients tough questions. If we functioned that way, our Advisory services would be limited to imitation. And that's not what we want to do. We want to seek cutting-edge, innovative solutions.

Learning, experimenting, and – as Kacper mentioned earlier – exploring how insights from other industries can benefit our clients' sectors. These are the traits I value most in my team and what I look for in candidates.

KU: I, on the other hand, value diverse perspectives and backgrounds. The way we execute projects and work together is a result of how our perspectives intersect. We often engage in discussions. It's never a one-person show but rather a collaborative effort. I believe it's crucial that everyone in the team has their voice and can leverage it.

Another trait I appreciate is proactivity. Tasks in our team are assigned very naturally and effortlessly. Each team member is aware of their capabilities and responsibilities. If someone appears to be struggling or overwhelmed, they can anticipate more than just a casual Slack message asking if they need assistance. Instead, they'll receive a detailed message specifying how another team member can step in and assist with a particular task or area.

IF: Absolutely, that proactive attitude is priceless. There are times when my team members notice my calendar is filled with back-to-back meetings and reach out, offering to help lighten the load. I make sure not to take advantage of their kindness, but I really appreciate it.

KU: One more thing – we're not afraid to ask questions, we don't assume that things will work out somehow. We know how to ask insightful questions. Sometimes, when I assign tasks and get questions, it makes me reconsider if it's the right direction. And now I remember us talking about what distinguishes Future Mind Advisory from typical consulting. Well, it's that usually, in typical consulting, there's no space for such questions. And that's a pity because they often help us see problems or tasks from a different angle.

IF: Hearing what Kacper is saying puts a smile on my face because I joined Future Mind with the aim of ensuring my team always feels psychologically safe because it’s impossible to grow without that. And I believe I've succeeded in achieving that goal. I'm not a fan of the theory that development requires stepping out of one's comfort zone. I think that to learn, you need to feel that you can make mistakes and ask questions in a completely safe atmosphere.

KU: Sometimes I come across consulting memes and inside jokes, where there's a picture of a banged-up car that's flipped over multiple times, and the caption reads: “When a new person joins the project and the manager says it'll be easy.” But in Advisory, that's not the case. Instead, we prioritize safety and comfort, as Iza mentioned. We aim to strike a balance between independence and accountability while fostering a culture of continuous learning. Because without that balance, the road to professional burnout is pretty short. At Future Mind, we have a lot of well-established processes and practices that help new team members ease into tasks much faster and safer compared to other organizations.

IF: And that connects with my aversion to micromanagement – I really try to steer clear of it. But at the same time, I always let my team know that if they have questions, concerns, or feel it's the right time for me to suggest how something can be done (not dictating how it should be done), I'm more than willing to help. Our projects never kick off with me saying: “This is how I imagine it, please do it this way.”

TJ: A lot of your conversation revolves around growth and sharing perspectives. How do you help each other develop your skills?

IF: We enjoy sharing knowledge, and we're curious about the world and new things. We have a Slack channel where we share interesting materials and reports, not only within our department. We also have an internal space on Confluence where we summarize the conferences and courses we attend.

We've built a library of books and interesting links from various areas so that everyone has easy access to that knowledge. Occasionally, if someone decides they've learned something inspiring (like from a course or postgraduate studies), we hold internal workshops and pass on that knowledge to each other. We also have internally documented project guidelines, discussed methodologies, and best practices that prove effective during work.

KU: I'd add something crucial to that. Internal knowledge-sharing is one side of the coin. But what's equally important, in my opinion, is that we're not siloed at Future Mind. If we lack knowledge on something but know another team has it, we proactively reach out to specific colleagues and meet with them to understand their work better, which helps us perform our work more effectively and grasp interdependencies. I believe this synergy is crucial – it aids in comprehending what each team does and the value they bring. It also enhances client communication, especially in the initial stages, fostering a sense of trust and security that we're capable of supporting the client from start to finish.

IF: That’s true. After all, we aim to offer clients solutions that are not only impressive but also efficient. They need to address user needs and meet our client's requirements while remaining feasible within specific time and budget constraints. Collaboration with our colleagues is crucial in achieving this.

TJ: Why did you choose consulting? What do you like most about this job?

IF: I started my career on the client side, but as time went on, I realized I was more drawn to creating things rather than just maintaining them. I thrive on change. Someone wise directed me towards consulting, saying that in this industry, I wouldn't get bored, and it turned out to be a bull's eye. I believe consulting is a great fit for those who, like me, love new challenges, are curious about the world, see connections everywhere, and crave something fresh.

KU: I’ve got to admit that our industry is incredibly diverse. Each project has its unique scope, and there's always a bit of brainstorming and redefining involved. I like to think of our offering like making pizza. You've got your basic ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and the toppings. A combination of those ingredients is what creates flavor.

Similarly, our skills and services vary depending on the project, and we always customize them to ensure the best possible outcome. As a consultant, part of the job is blending all sorts of information into one clear and straightforward output that captures the magic happening behind the scenes.

TJ: Thank you for the interview! Before we wrap up, could you tell us what made you decide to stay at Future Mind?

IF: Definitely my team. 🙂

KU: Firstly, the team, and secondly, the impact on what we do and how we do it. It took me a while to muster the courage to take ownership of my ideas. Many times in the past, I thought I would do something differently, but I didn't dare to speak up about it. At Future Mind, my voice is heard, and I sense that we're doing fantastic projects. That's why I'm here, and I’m going to stay for longer.

TJ: It's great to hear that. Thank you for the interview, and best of luck with your upcoming projects! And if anyone reading this interview thought it would be worthwhile to join the Advisory team, we're currently seeking a Digital Advisory Consultant, so don't hesitate, apply now!

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