#MeetTheTeam - Susan Caesar, MD of Lightful Solutions
We’re happy to welcome Susan Caesar to #TeamLightful!
Susan is our new Managing Director of Lightful Solutions. Susan’s passionate about people, process and technology and how the combination of these empowers people to thrive and create greater impact.
Let’s find out more about her.
Welcome to Lightful! Tell us about your new role!
My new role is to lead and enable an exceptionally talented group of people to create amazing outcomes for our clients. We want to build on all the great work we’ve done to date, to harness all our experience and expertise to power up the next phase of Lightful as we scale into the future. I believe Lightful has a lead role to play in defining the standards of what it means to be tech-for-good.
What’s your background? How would you describe your previous roles?
My career has been brilliant; I’ve experienced lots of diversity and innovation at a time when digital has disrupted many of the ways we interact with each other and the world around us. The one thing that has been a constant for me is people. I'm really keen on how organisations do good for the people that are connected to them. Whether that's customers, colleagues, or shareholders. I’m driven by helping organisations be more human and the democratisation of how stuff gets done through better use of technology.
It's a segue between those two things, the empowering and immersive promise of technology, and how that can transform and elevate what people do in the world, or the experiences they have. When I saw the Lightful opportunity I felt it was a perfect fit for me as it makes good use of all the things I love, with social purpose.
A lot of my experience has been gained working with large global brands on their complex customer and technology transformations. I've run diverse operations in the sales, marketing and customer/client success space across different time zones; geographies and languages. I understand how technology changes the way people work and think; the business processes and functions of a business, how work gets done, and how that affects the customers and the enterprise or business model itself. Whether that's around product development, whether it's around an operational function, or whether it's around the marketing and the sales.
For me, everything is about focusing on those moments that matter, getting the balance right so there is value exchange when an individual reaches out to interact with an organisation. Those moments need to be design-led experiences.
Why did you want to join Lightful?
It's the social impact, the big draw is the fact that I can use the skills and experience I've developed over my career to do good, to give back, to work with causes that can have a positive impact on the global challenges that we all face. I love the idea of that. I also equally loved all the people that I met through the interview process. I felt there was an authenticity between how Lightful shows up in the market and what it does, for tech for good in the world. And the people that are behind it, there’s something really magical about what we’re doing.
What motivates you in your work?
It's helping people. For instance, I will get up and I'll think “Okay, today if I think about the team and the clients, where can I add the most value today? What's the next best thing that I can do? And who might I ask for input, ideas or feedback on something?”
And that's what motivates me and gives me energy, it's actually making positive things happen, creating and sustaining momentum.
How does purpose fit in your career?
I've worked in both the public sector and private sector. When I'm in the private sector, it's been about how an organisation can deliver value for its people in a way that is congruent with its brand. Although it's not a social purpose thing in terms of the ESG themes, it is still about doing the right thing for people.
I have been involved in setting up a community not for profit, and I also worked within a community development trust in Angus, so I've got experience of working in those sectors as well. In those spaces, it's about asking good questions that help uncover the options/insights to help define either their visions and strategy or their next best steps.
I helped Community First set-up, helped them raise their first funds, got it matched and am still advising as a volunteer on their board as they grow and evolve.
And for Carnoustie Community Development Trust I helped broker partnerships with local businesses and with local councils to bring about economic, social and cultural change by listening to the voice of that community.
What would you like to see changing in the way purposeful organisations and nonprofits use tech?
I think the key thing is that technology has the power to elevate the role of humans. When you are working in a not for profit space, whether they're small or large, you really want the uniqueness of people, i.e. their passions, and their expertise, focused on the things that have the biggest impact for that cause. Often people who want to do good things spend time away from their core purpose on the administrative side of running a business.
Technology has the potential to redefine how work gets done, to reduce wasted time/effort and to make smarter processes or administration in a way that makes the best use of your funds. Also, funds are scarce so you want to make sure you’re prioritising effort and spend where it will have the greatest value and impact for your cause.
How important is innovation for you?
If you talk to anybody that knows me they’d probably say I’m innovative and full of ideas. At Sage, I set up the online Playground and Imaginarium which is a way to democratise ideas/innovation. At Lightful I’d love us to innovate around the 12 themes that are our global challenges, run hackathons with our clients and create an innovation hub. I see this hub as an incubator to onboard and nurture talent into our organisation but also to create a flow of ideas and talent into the beyond profit sector. Maybe in time, we could invest in some of these ideas through our own fund/foundation for innovation. I’d really love us to do that.
How do you envision Lightful Solutions?
I want Lightful Solutions to unlock value, accelerate impact, drive innovation and define the standards for our beyond profit sector. If you think about how Amazon has redefined the standards for retail, or Monzo for banking, Lightful could determine the standards for the not for profit sector. We could do that across human-centred design, technology and innovation.
I would love to see us grow with our clients, our partners, and our reputation to the point where we’re actually recognised for being a trusted partner - for Lightful’s brand to be synonymous with quality and tech-for-good.
We are at a time of digital acceleration - how can nonprofits and beyond profit organisations make the most out of this time?
It's interesting, because even in the previous companies I worked in, it was about bringing technology, digital cloud-based stuff to an audience. I think what COVID has helped people understand is that it's not a scary thing. Looking back it feels like digital transformation, or the digital journey was something people were putting off because they knew they needed to get to, but they just didn't really want to get to it just now. So it kind of was sitting in the long grass, waiting.
But now, I think people have seen how intuitive it can be, and how empowering it is. I think people are converted, if you like, they can see that digital enriches what you do and therefore they can start to see what that potential could do for their causes.
I think an area we hope we can help organisations with is, if they're not on a digital journey, we'll help them take their first steps. Quite a lot of people have had to consider digital as a consequence of COVID. Now it's about illustrating the journey, the potential of how digital creates value for their organisation, for their people and for their social impact.
Digital means you can be global and there is no limit to the reach that you can have. It's about picking the right place for you to start and making informed choices about how and when you might scale.
In terms of the scary side of it, once people embrace digital in their private lives, with their family and friends it’s easier and less scary for them to embrace it in work. There’s very little difference in the human experience of using digital in your private or work life. As more people engage with social media, or how easy it is to order online, all of those behaviours are very similar when you take them into the business environment.
What are your 3 favourite apps?
Well, my family is scattered all over the place. It could be Skype, Facebook, or instant messenger since connecting with my family is really important. To get a video communication tool is really important.
I'm a keen photographer so I’ll always be using a video camera and an app. I also love music. I love discovering new things; whether it's the radio apps that allow you to listen to radio live from anywhere in the world, or just listening pretending that I'm sitting in Mexico or wherever my imagination takes me.
Tell us one thing we don’t know about you 😃
I've done a skydive over Oxford. I jumped out of a plane from 12,000 feet with a parachute in a tandem jump. There you are, that's something new!
Susan Caesar is an innovator in customer and business transformation. Working at Board level to develop adaptive strategies for growth, mindset shift and digital transformation. With extensive experience in digital high growth and complex operational environments, she understands how to create purposeful organisations that create value and impact beyond profit.
An ingenious thinker and long-range planner dedicated to maintaining a reputation built on customer success and quality outcomes.
Susan is recognised as a driving force that delivers sound guidance within complex settings that demand keen technology, marketing, and commercial acumen.
Profit experience includes: Sage; DMGT; World Remit; Illumina; ASOS; Unibet; Sky; Microsoft
Beyond profit experience includes GovUK; CLIC Trust; Carnoustie Community Development Trust; Community First.
We talked to Chakara Wheeler from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint to find out more about her work and her experience being part of the BRIDGE programme.
We talked to the Hope and Dreams Initiative, an organisation with a mission to educate, empower and enable young people from under-served communities in Nigeria to find out more about their work and how they benefit from our BRIDGE programme.
We are thrilled to be part of the Escape 100 list for the second year in a row with the top purpose-led companies to ‘escape to’ in 2022! 🎉
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