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Fireside chat with Tim Benjamin, Chief Storyteller at Infinity Works

Who is Tim Benjamin?

I’m several people in one! A composer, a film director, a technologist, a startup entrepreneur – but I bring all these together under the title of “storyteller”. Telling stories, and helping people tell their story, is central to what I do – most recently at Infinity Works, now part of Accenture.

Tell us more about your role in Infinity Works?

As “Chief Storyteller”, to help people tell their story. The role is only “chief” in the sense that we had a vision of a company of hundreds of storytellers – with my goal to lead the effort to achieve that, and help people grow their personal profile as contributors to the tech scene. That’s done through both speaking (e.g. talks) and writing (e.g. blogs), right from the company’s newest Associates through to the top of senior management. I’ve also helped the company tell its own story, through its brand and culture, and constantly refining the way the company talks about its work and services.

What is the most difficult part of your job? But the most rewarding one?

Difficult – Infinity Works has grown at a tremendous speed, from 4 people to 500+ in around 7 years!
With that growth comes a lot of exciting challenges. Now it is part of Accenture, it’s a very different way of doing things, going from a start-up culture to being part of a massive enterprise in the blink of an eye.
Most rewarding – seeing people grow in confidence. I’ve helped people give their very first public talk and seen them go from sheer terror at the very idea of it, to being always the first to step forward for any chance to speak or write. It’s amazing what something as apparently simple as giving a 10-minute talk can do for you!

Is there anything that you would change about your professional path?

I’ve had a pretty unusual career, with downs as well as ups! But I wouldn’t change any of it – I’ve learned from every experience I’ve had, and who knows, if I got rid of the bad bits, would the good bits have happened? I think the lesson is that every experience is a chance to learn, and a positive outlook will lead to exciting opportunities. One thing always leads to another, and everything is connected.

What’s your key strategy for the development of your company?

The idea in bringing me in as Chief Storyteller was quite simple – at the time we were growing fast, but we wanted to make our voice heard without committing a massive conventional marketing budget. The CTO (Dan Rathbone, one of the co-founders) and I had this vision of a tech conference: imagine you are looking at the list of speakers, and you see someone from Infinity Works on the programme. “I’ll go and see that”, you say, “because Infinity Works people are always interesting to hear!” Once you start on a strategy to achieve that, it has all sorts of benefits for company culture and individual personal development.

What do you think about the next period of time, keeping in mind the pandemic and the new business climate? How will your industry be affected?

We are in the middle – actually, perhaps only the beginning – of an incredible period of technology change, what’s often called “digital transformation” of business and government. We’ve also just had a huge experience of remote working, with every company facing significant challenges to their culture. The demand for tech workers is immense, but it’s also really hard to get culture right when we’re mostly working remotely – and for many, unwilling to return to the slog of a commute and the noise of an office, at least full-time. What we’re seeing result from that has been dubbed “The Great Resignation” as many techies, and those in other industries too, are moving between jobs much more rapidly, or just leaving altogether and starting up new businesses. There’s a bit of a dark irony – thanks to all that digital transformation that tech firms have helped to drive, it’s actually much easier now to start something new.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

One word: serverless! By which I mean the range of technology building blocks that involve no server admin for your own business, not even cloud-based servers or containers, but functions / compute, databases, and storage all offered “as a service”. While AWS are the big player, there’s a whole ecosystem of companies providing really interesting new tools – from Vercel to Cloudflare to Macrometa. The potential benefits in terms of overhead and speed of value delivery are immense, a real step-change even in relation to the previous generation of cloud migrations.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

Currently, I can recommend “Killing Giants: 10 Strategies To Topple The Goliath In Your Industry” by Stephen Denny, “Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, and while it’s not on my nightstand, it’s never far from reach: “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries.

I’m also a big fan of sci-fi, and I would love to recommend “The Three-Body Problem” (and the other books in the trilogy) by Liu Cixin. Absolutely brilliant and genuinely mind-expanding!

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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