Introducing Josh Haagsma, Club Exec of AND's latest London Club
15 September 2022 • 6 min read
Our next London Club is due to officially open its doors this autumn. As the sixth in the city, it will enable us to help more London businesses accelerate their digital capabilities. Leading London 6 is Club Executive Josh Haagsma, who recently took time out from his ANDuction to tell us a little about himself, and his plans for the new club.
AND Digital: Tell us about yourself.
Josh: The first thing I normally say about myself is that I learnt pretty quickly during my engineering degree that I was “ok” at engineering and “pretty good” at bringing outcome-focused work together. That’s followed me during my career, I moved pretty quickly into project management and became responsible for a wider and wider scope of the (service provider) businesses I’ve been involved in from there. Through that excellent exposure I’ve been able to quite rapidly engage in, simplify, organise and/or deliver and have been lucky enough to do those things for a wide range of industries, geographies, products and people.quite a broad range of digital work and simplify / organise / deliver and have been lucky enough to do those things for a wide range of industries, geographies, products and people.
Most recently I led the Europe region as GM of digital products company Tigerspike until its acquisition.
AND Digital: Tell us about your AND title.
Josh: My AND title is “Aussie Dad”. It is what it sounds like, but I think it’s also a good representation of what I’m like more generally - open, friendly, straight forward, pragmatic with the occasional surprise up my sleeve. I'm also conditioned to hearing “but why?” a lot (not only from the kids!).
AND Digital: Why and how did you get into the tech sector?
Josh: Well I have that engineering degree, and I have that because I guess I saw that field of study being a good vocation for someone who’s always been curious about how things work. My major was telecommunications, again I think because it was a nicely balanced major between the tangible and intangible aspects of engineering. It translates really well into the companies I’ve been attracted to - companies that use the power of the intangible world of digital technology to produce tangible outcomes.
AND Digital: What do you bring to the table as a new Club Exec? What are your unique strengths and superpowers?
Josh: I like to think that I have a good appreciation for how the levers work in an organisation that provides digital services - the interplay between commercial results (both for our clients and for ourselves), people, delivery excellence and growth.
I’m equally analytical and creative and I bring an advocacy for recognition of creativity and innovation outside the “usual channels”. We all have often untapped capabilities in creative problem solving. Putting the right people in the right place at the right time is where I get my fulfilment.
AND Digital: Why AND Digital? What attracted you to work for the company?
Josh: I talk about being serious about the work we do but it doesn’t mean that work has to be dull. We can work towards meaningful outcomes and through challenging circumstances and enjoy it. AND Digital takes this to an enterprise level, it’s a friendly and approachable organisation that does some seriously impactful work.
As I’ve grown in my career, it’s become more and more evident that creating environments in which people can flourish is savvy (as well as making for an engaging working environment). Again, AND Digital are genuine believers in this idea and set themselves apart from others with how this understanding has been manifested in the organisation.
AND Digital: What excites you most about this role?
Josh: I can’t wait to start working with some of the best in the industry, doing our bit to achieve these ambitious goals. I’m trusted to make good decisions with the added benefit of a whole swathe of talented individuals with whom to consult for their support.
AND Digital: What do you see as your main challenge? What would you like to accomplish at AND?
Josh: The external environment is particularly challenging at this point. We’re tentatively post-pandemic with “the new normal” still being defined. Global and local economics introduce more instability than we’ve had in recent years. The global workforce is (re)shaping itself against the organisations that provide employment, creating friction in some areas. In our club, we won’t be immune to these external factors so it will be especially important for us to have a supportive environment to help us all define and navigate through whilst ensuring we don’t lose sight of our values.
In short, I’ll be happy if I can create a club that provides consistency for its people and its clients through this challenging period.
AND Digital: What kind of culture do you want to create at the new club? How will you do it?
Josh: It has to be that balance of serious and fun. Our culture should reflect how we approach our work - seriously, with energy, pragmatism and with an eye on the overall value of what we’re doing. Our club already has individuals with these traits and, as well as continuing to find the characters who can engage our clients and their teammates, I’ll create an authentic environment. Even more importantly, I'll ensure that everyone in the club has the tools they need to create authentic environments themselves.
AND Digital: What strengths and weaknesses does the London market have?
Josh: London is a terrific centre for diversity which results in amazing potential for innovation and testing ideas at scale. Because we help all types of businesses it makes it an incredible place to work due to the variety that we’re exposed to.
Our challenge in London is to provide great value - with such a large marketplace it’s inevitable that not all vendors provide an equivalent level of quality. Putting together the right mix of talent and then deploying that talent effectively is the (often thankless) foundation work that can overcome this weakness.
AND Digital: What excites you about the tech sector at the moment?
Josh: I just love the sheer variety. We often think of ourselves as specialists in an area of the tech industry but in reality, the more “generally” we can think the more effective we can be. I think AND Digital is one of the companies leading that type of thinking and it just means that we all get to have richer and more fulfilling work lives and get to experience really tangible outcomes that make people’s lives better.
AND Digital: What makes a great client - the sort of client you want to work with?
Josh: Both sides of the client / service provider equation are guilty of this cliche, but for me it’s about the partnership. The best partnerships are the ones with open communication channels, where risks can be taken and mistakes made and learnt from, and where both sides recognise that as healthy.
More granularly, it’s a bit nuanced, but those clients whose strategy is to work towards an outcome with a digital product as opposed to working tactically on digital projects are most likely to form the strongest partnerships.
AND Digital: What would you say to prospective clients to convince them to come and work with you and the AND team?
Josh: When you work with AND Digital, you’re working with a team of people who are genuinely interested in helping you whatever the shape of “help” looks like. You’ll get to work with a bunch of faces that will become familiar and who’ll feel like an extension of your team. They’ll accept your challenges and bring ideas to you - all with the backing of a vast network of top quality digital professionals.
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