Caroline Walmsley, Brightwave

As CEO of Brightwave, Caroline Walmsley leads all operational, strategic and development management within the business and is passionate about driving the commercial, creative and technical agenda forward. Caroline joined Brightwave in 2013 with a proven track record of executive management in the publishing industry, in particular for academic and professional publishers. She now works alongside Brightwave’s senior management team overseeing 80 employees who collaborate with various FTSE 250 clients. Caroline is most interested in how creative collaborations and innovative technologies can help solve business problems and bridge the gap between an organisation’s current performance and its future potential.

Where did it all start? 

Brightwave’s been going for about 15 years. Our founder was clever enough to see a space for a smart, consultative, agency-style provider in the then-young e-learning industry, and went from there. We’ve come a long way, growing with the industry and of course shaping it – largely I think thanks to our fresh, collaborative working style, bold design ideas and innovative use of technology.

How did you turn your idea into reality?  

When I took the CEO position, I took a step back and had a long look at the company. I worked out how the company sees itself in the marketplace, and how it’s seen by others – from our clients, to our partners, and our competitors. I figured out what it does best, and what makes it tick. From there I imagined what the company would look like in three years’ time if we made a real, ambitious effort to enhance and expand upon those core features. I decided that we would look like a global, industry-leading, learning tech and services agency, built on two things: the talented people we have here, and the value of the relationships we have with our clients. We’re currently well on course to build a learning agency that looks different to any other, with record levels of growth. Ask me again in another year or two!

Who or what is your inspiration?  

I’m going to go with the people I work with. There’s a phenomenal amount of talent and heart at Brightwave – people who challenge and surprise me every day, pushing me to perform as best as I possibly can. On the other side of the fence, we’re lucky enough to have a wealth of clients and partners who are as smart, engaged, and committed as we are to pushing the industry forward, so I really rely on the people I see and speak to every day for the energy and purpose to  move things forward.

Where do you go from here?  

Everywhere!  Our current workforce will grow by at least 15% before the end of the year, with new hires at all levels, and with different skills and experience from both inside and outside the industry to support our market offering. We’re looking seriously at expansion in both markets and product suites, and right now Brightwave’s potential horizon is limitless.

3 tips for growing your business

1. Look at what you’re already good at, and super-charge it. Your existing models and practices are your vital launch-pad – you can adapt them and improve them, but if you try and get rid of them altogether, you’re just standing in a big hole.

2. Remember that it’s always about people: every business meeting is a personal meeting, and your next contract is only as strong as your relationship with the person who’s signing it with you.

3. Knowing your mission is so important. I want to be spearheading a company that does great things, that changes the way we learn and work, and delivers products and services that stun our clients. By always keeping that in focus and communicating, it to those around me, everyone can take pride in what they’re doing and find the strength to outdo themselves.

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