Case Study – Brandwatch, Conscious Leadership at Scale

They may not realise it, but they now take themselves much more seriously as managers. As a consequence, management is taken more seriously as a whole throughout the organisation.

Naomi Trickey, VP of People, Brandwatch

Helping 80+ managers become leaders

  • Global high growth tech company with more than 300 staff
  • 80+ managers, many of whom had never managed before
  • Embedding leadership as a constantly evolving practice
  • Now they lead with confidence


Brandwatch are a fast growth tech company with more than 300 staff, over 1,000 clients and offices in Brighton (HQ), San Francisco, New York, Berlin, Stuttgart and Singapore. In 2015, they had just received $33m investment for further expansion. They have recently purchased BuzzSumo, continuing their upward trajectory.

They had an expanding team of 64 managers. Over 80 have now been through the programme, many of whom had no previous management experience. And all this with the challenges that come with rapid expansion:

  • New people joining who need to rapidly come up to speed
  • Constant pressure to achieve demanding targets
  • Letting go of older responsibilities to focus on leadership
  • Managing the performance of diverse personality types and varying expectations, sometimes in remote locations
  • Competitive, changeable market conditions requiring the capability to rapidly pivot the business whilst still maintain high levels of innovation and creativity
  • Silos developing as a consequence of the increasing size and speed of growth
  • No time to learn how to deal with it all

But, the opportunity is huge if they can develop the leadership that helps their teams be responsive.


We co-created a ten-month integrated leadership programme with the Brandwatch people team, and Wild Things, to take the initial 64 managers through a programme that would help them to lead with intuition.

Underpinned with some conscious communications skills and simple models, we wanted them to end with the desire and ability to continue to develop themselves as leaders through peer support

I wanted to break the mould of training programmes, providing both soft and hard skills for all new managers. I wanted to get people to appreciate that management is a practice – not a tick-box exercise – and it required them to do some heavy lifting on their own development to get there. We wanted them to ‘own’ being a manager and build confidence in their roles. It’s been a resounding success.

Naomi Trickey – VP of People, Brandwatch

We wanted to create a self-supporting community of leaders, motivated by their own development, and that of their teams.

We divided the group into five different cohorts and mixed the departments to break down some of the silos and also mixed up the personality types so they would have hands-on experience of understanding how to manage difference. We looked at their aspirations as leaders then helped them understand themselves and their impact managing different types of people.

We then went through a varied programme of hard and soft skills with a support and feedback as constants throughout. This included:

  • Having difficult conversations
  • Delegation and empowerment
  • Working with diverse personality types
  • How to be an effective communicator
  • Performance management
  • Feedback and coaching
  • Information sessions about how Brandwatch worked internally

We ended with a peer support process to ensure they would be able to support each other effectively moving forwards. We set up monthly feedback sessions for any managers that wanted to attend, a different member of the C-Suite and the people team so that we could offer and receive suggestions while also maintaining buy-in at the highest level of the organisation.


The impact of the work is best understood by hearing what they had to say about it:

“We see managers having much better conversations, using a common language and involving us much less. When we do get involved the manager already has a clear idea of what is happening in their team. They go to their own bosses with solutions, not problems, and they may not realise it, but they now take themselves much more seriously as managers. As a consequence, management is taken more seriously as a whole throughout the organisation.”

On working with us: “We loved the co-design process, CBP were very responsive to the needs of the business and the programme management process was both enjoyable and intellectually stimulating.”
Naomi Trickey – VP of People, Brandwatch

We noticed the shift increased expectations they had of themselves, and how they increasingly embraced new challenges as the programme progressed.

At time of writing, the programme has been through two full iterations and awaits a third. The newest cohorts now benefit from the support of previous cohorts, and the learning and cultural shift.

Brandwatch has moved from strength to strength and many additional internal initiatives have developed as a result of the programme:

  • Management reading groups
  • A process for ‘reporting bugs’ in how the organisation is run so that organisational issues are treated seriously
  • Formal and informal management support groups
  • Keenly read internal blogs created by one of the managers about the ongoing learning they have had from the programme.

The company has just purchased BuzzSumo.