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All Wolff Olins' leaders are practitioners on client work as well as leading the business. In the flat structure and open plan environment, the leadership is highly visible, approachable, hands on and deeply involved in the business and people. The company are a global business and so some of their leaders have global roles. Brian Boylan, their chairman and strategist, grew theirreputation through work like Tate and the 2012 Olympic Games. They are lead by designer and CEO, Karl Heiselman who’s based in New York. Under Karl and COO Sairah Ashman, formally London MD and before that Account Director, Wolff Olins is focused in its purpose and liberated in how it does it. The London office leadership is as tight as it can get and that’s good for the company as it feels ‘management lite’ but is also very effective.
Wolff Olins are really proud of their Honey Club. In 2008, they created a garden on their London roof with help from the local youth development charity, Global Generation. Since then, they have witnessed the positive influence of the garden on their business – including providing organic vegetables for the kitchen and huge pride for everyone. More recently, with Global Generation, the company have created The Honey Club, a social enterprise with a mission: save bees, learn more, give back. They installed two beehives and now have c.100,000 Western honeybees living on their roof. A group of people are learning to be beekeepers alongside young people from local schools, Global Generation leaders and their garden facilitator.
Something they think is unique about Wolff Olins is how the business takes feedback, then shares information with everyone, taking more feedback and forming a cycle for improvement. Recently, the company recently ran global company survey to check-in on how people were feeling and what they would like to see more/less off. The results were presented in all the offices on the same day, sharing global as well as local results to give insights into the whole business' thoughts, similarities and differences. In London the company had a ‘private view’ of their results where they hung large printouts of the results charts with people’s individual comments below the data so the results were more meaningful. People were able to take their time browsing the ‘exhibition’ over drinks and nibbles, discuss the results with each other and the senior team and openly see what other WO offices’ results were too.
Learn more about the 8 factors of workplace engagement here
At least 33% of senior managers are women
On-site gym or subsidised gym memberships
10% of staff undertake charitable activities during business hours
On-site nursery or vouchers
Companies offering a final salary or non-contributory pension scheme
At least 10 weeks' leave on full pay
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