Why work with Kia? 30 second CV:
- Your industry is Finance or Management Consulting
- You need expertise in Change Management, Strategy, C-Suite Roles
- You need someone with a high level of education - Psychology from Yale and MBA from INSEAD
When it comes to Agility – just how agile is agile, really? HR Zone defines Business Agility as “distinctive qualities that allow organisations [and individuals] to respond rapidly to changes in the internal and external environment without losing momentum or vision”. And that’s exactly what this Talmix consultant has epitomised throughout her career. We speak to Kia – author of Flashpoint100: Radical Business Growth in 100 Days, strategist, specialist in Small Business growth, and all-round inspirational woman.
Talking to Kia from her office in the UAE, I’m immediately struck by her can-do attitude. Kia is a joy to speak to, and within a few minutes of our conversation, I have immediate insight on her wealth of experience developed throughout her career and how she is changing the lives of start-up and small businesses all over the world. Kia has always been interested in understanding why people buy the things they buy – which is probably one of the main reasons why she chose to study Consumer Psychology at Yale. And it was soon after graduating, that Kia kicked off her career within the marketing and advertising fields, soon followed by snapping up the opportunity to join an investment hedge fund, that took her quest for the consumer to a new level.
Put it on my card
“It was at that point, after having explored the consumer world through marketing, and finance, that I was looking for a unifying career direction where I could bring together what I’d studied, and what I’d learnt on the job, that I decided to go to the business school INSEAD, to complete my MBA. I wanted to understand the umbrella of business, which would springboard my career forward”, she tells me. And that it did. Kia developed a taste for strategy consulting at a firm, then moved to the internal corporate strategy team at VISA, where her quest for understanding the consumer saw her analysing market-level changes and trends, consumer behaviours geographically and consumer attitudes towards debt and identifying ways to instigate change. Not only was Kia involved in looking at a consumer-approached model to credit card usage, but being involved in a driving force which analysed opportunity to enlarge the market for everyone in the payment cycle, improving payment safety, helping governments manage payment risk and more.
Small business, big vision
Kia had developed a real passion for corporate strategy. She had been involved in corporate strategy with a major consulting firm, as well as with a massive market player through VISA, but never lost sight of her passion for developing and enabling the consumer. “I realised that whether a large corporation or small business, you’re pretty much solving the same problems, asking the same questions which inevitably are, ‘How do I stay in the market and remain sustainable in the long-term’, ‘How do I compete against other players (both companies and substitutes)’, ‘How do I stay relevant to my customers and clients’, ‘How do I protect my brand and reputation in the market’. Every organisation asks themselves these questions to remain relevant. And so, I decided that it was time to turn my focus and the experience I’d built up over the years, on the small business community, and specifically, growth programs for small business owners”, which birthed her book Flashpoint100: Radical Business Growth in 100 Days. “The small businesses I work with are never short of ideas. Where larger enterprises are looking for ideas, the small business community and small business owners are full of incredible ideas. Sometimes, that eagerness to do something new potentially becomes a hindrance, but my job is not to say ‘No’; my job is to say ‘Ok, how is this going to work’ and helping the business owner identify their own answers, and prioritise their own workload and focus”, she adds.
Laser-focussed customer success
Kia has worked with governments and banks, investors and small businesses all over the world from Kenya to Dubai, Ecuador to Tanzania. Her diverse industry-experience and unique approach has businesses lining up to work with her. Drawing on her passion for the consumer, every project she undertakes, she places her focus on the customer (whether they’re her own customer, or her customer’s customer). She is laser-focussed on understanding what customers say, what they’re thinking, the fundamentals forming their decision-making and identifying new ways to get even closer to the customer to interpret their buying behaviour even more closely. “My approach is more about spending less time analysing things up-front, and rather going to market to validate ideas. If you’re looking to implement a new strategy, go to market and test that. The reason why companies don’t do that is because they may be concerned about potential reputational damage”, she says. But the reason why you work with someone as experienced as Kia is she understands and can appreciate the challenges you face as a brand, on the cusp of something new, and can identify the best way to test something new, while limiting as much risk as possible, to get the answers you need.
Kia has helped grow small businesses and startups across several industries, written several white papers and reports on key consumer subjects and is heavily involved in the future of FinTech, organisational ecosystems, developing rich environments for start-ups and more. If you’re looking for a corporate strategy, which sets your customer at the front of everything you do, then you want to work with someone like Kia.
Looking to kick off a new strategy within your own organisation? Speak to the Talmix team today to get started.
About the AuthorMore Content by Katy Roberts