We sat down with Keith White, Director and office lead for our Leeds and Manchester offices, to learn more about him and his plans for our Northern UK offices.
Keith White Director
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. There, I continued to lead some very interesting and challenging ecommerce programs in the energy, automotive, and public sector fields. I later 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. This was fuelled 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. In 2018, I 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 experience so far.
What excites you most about the future of the Leeds and Manchester offices?
The North of the UK is a real powerhouse in digital. There are many great organisations 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, and an energy that can be experienced through events such as Leeds Digital Festival 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 found doing one of four things:
Playing guitar: I first started learning when I was 12 years old and have played in a few bands over the years. Being in a professional studio is always fun! My preferred style is blues-rock, although these days I am 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. In the last six months, I have also 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 Warrington fan and have been supporting ‘the Wires’ since I was a child. I try to attend a few games during the season and those that I can’t go to, I will make a point of organising my time to watch.
Teaching at my church: I’m 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 different dimension to the week.
What is a personal goal you’re currently working toward?
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?
I prefer a collaborative style of leadership. At Credera, we are fortunate to work with great people who genuinely care about what they do, are always looking to learn and improve, and start every task wanting to do the best that they possibly 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?
I have learned that I don’t and can’t know everything. Continuing to be open to listening, learning, and recognising where I need help are all important lessons. Asking for help is really a strength, not a weakness.
Another key lesson for me has been the value of treating people as individuals and valuing diversity. During my first role as a team leader in 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 hadn’t properly taken into account 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 that 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 would definitely recommend attending 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, travel out to 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, consider attending a Lancashire versus Yorkshire T20 (cricket) match. 20 overs a side, quick, big hitting cricket with a rowdy crowd.
Food-wise in Leeds (where I am currently based), I would strongly recommend Tharavadu. It is an amazing restaurant with the best Kerala cuisine I’ve ever experienced and an Indian restaurant in the Michelin guide!