Culture, Mar 19, 2021

Credera’s respective CEOs talk about joining forces: Behind the scenes with Chris Dean and Justin Bell

Cara Bills

In 2021, it was announced that Credera’s DMW Group would be rebranding to Credera to deliver global, boutique services as one brand. Following our recent transition to Credera, we met with the respective leaders of each organisation – Chris Dean, CEO of Credera’s UK arm, and Justin Bell, CEO of Credera - to learn more about their backgrounds and their visions for the future of the company.

Chris Dean v2-1
Meet Chris Dean

Chief Executive Officer at Credera, London

Tell us about your background —how did your journey lead you to become the CEO of Credera’s UK arm?

I joined Credera’s UK arm when it was a six-person company in the UK and after leaving what is now Accenture in 1989. I was our most junior employee at that point. We had a small office in a suburb of London, above a video rental shop (remember them?). When I joined, we were having a heatwave. There was no air conditioning in the office, and everyone wore suits and ties in those days. I would describe the initial experience as entrepreneurial and sweaty.

The company grew and we moved to the centre of London. I became the Managing Director in 1994 and thankfully managed to keep doing some client work. It has been an exciting journey and one that I’m really proud to have been a part of.

How would you describe your approach to leadership?

I think it’s about three things:

  1. Enabling people to trust the business, be proud of it, and enjoy working here;

  2. Focusing on helping clear anything that gets in the way of people doing the thing they love and are good at;

  3. Having a clear and simple view of where the business is going and help get everyone on the same journey. Then it’s just a matter of making sure the small decisions are consistent with the agreed direction.

Outside of work, how do you enjoy spending your free time?

I have been married to Nicky for 30 years and we have three grown children who keep me busy and make life wonderful.

I run and cycle and I play the flute, clarinet, and occasionally the saxophone.

What has running a business taught you about yourself?

I’ve learned that I like working with people who are highly motivated and smarter than me. It turns out I don’t get jealous of their brilliance. Instead, I get to celebrate their successes as if they were my own.

What made you realise that Credera would be a good fit for DMW at the time?

I’m going to go for another list of three things:

First and foremost, the cultural fit is surprisingly good. The people focus, the humility, and the business ethics of both companies are strongly aligned. Talk is cheap on these topics, but we have seen that Credera really values what we value and works the way we do.

Secondly, our Management Board has got to know the senior folks at Credera and we have built a great deal of trust in Justin Bell, Scott Covington, Andrew Warden, and all of the people we have met.

Lastly, our ambitions are strongly aligned. Before we met Credera, we set our goal as being a ‘global boutique.’ We see ourselves doing very similar things for the same type of clients.

Justin Bell-1

Meet Justin Bell

Tell us about your background—how did your journey lead you to become the CEO of Credera?

I was the 10th employee of Credera back in 2004 and became CEO just by waiting the rest of them out. In all seriousness, I’ve just crossed the 20-year mark of my career in consulting and am very thankful that I joined Credera back then. I started out at manager level and it has been an incredible experience throughout the entire journey. I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing people who are both great at their craft and great people. I’ve been fortunate enough to take on many different roles over the years. It’s always been challenging and provided growth opportunities, but I’ve also always had the right support to be successful.

How would you describe your approach to leadership?

Generally, I try to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am and put them in position to do amazing things. We’ve got a talented and committed team, so leadership here is pretty straightforward. I’m very transparent and try not to ask anyone on our team to do something that I’m not personally willing to do.

Outside of work, how do you enjoy spending your free time?

My wife Karla and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary, and we have a 15-year-old son named Grady and a 13-year-old daughter named Riley. We lead a full and rich life, love to travel, eat good food, and we love to host friends and family. I like to run and have been enjoying training with my son as he is getting ready for cross country season. Whilst we have been working from home, we have been playing a ton of board games. A few of our favourites right now are 7 Wonders, Ticket to Ride, and Settlers of Catan.

What has running a business taught you about yourself?

A lot actually. In many ways, I’ve kind of ‘grown up’ at Credera and so many of the things I’ve learned from other Credera leaders have really influenced my broader life and really helped me to be a better leader for my wider family and friend groups.

One thing that I’ve really noticed in the past few years is how my joy largely comes from helping others to get the same type of great opportunities I’ve gotten here. I find that really fulfilling and believe it will be my primary focus for the rest of my career.

What was it that made you realise that DMW would be the right fit for Credera at the time?

It was their accents…(says the guy from Oklahoma).

Joking aside, it was actually that I was just really impressed with Chris and then later Simon Greenhalgh, Helen Kilvington, Matthew Neale, and Marius Rubin. And everyone else I’ve met with has been incredible, talented, and energetic. This is a people business and the only way this sort of thing could work is if you find a great group of people with a similar vision, similar values, similar talent and quality bar, and enough humility to recognise that we might actually be better together than alone. I’m extremely confident in our ability to do great things together and make an oversized impact on our people, our clients, and the communities we live and work in.

And I do like their accents…

We look forward to learning more from our leaders and we are excited to see the next chapter in our company’s story unfold.

If you are interested in joining us, please view our latest vacancies.

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