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Meet Clara Monnet, one of our Lead Strategists.

Clara Monnet

Our name is intentional. “Kin” refers to family and “Carta” refers to maps. When together, we’re Kin + Carta — a group of connected makers, builders and creators, who come together everyday to help our clients build experiences and plot a clear path forward in today’s digital world. Carta is what we do, Kin is who we are.

Kin+ is a series that uncovers the experiences, stories and lives of the people who make our collective “Kin” exceptional.

From the first female and junior strategist to now one of our Lead Strategist, Clara Monnet has worked on countless projects across a variety of industries, establishing herself as a subject matter expert in Financial Services. She has seen the strategy team grow through changes in how we serve our clients and the acquisitions we’ve made.

For the past seven years she’s thrown herself into pitches, won the best dressed at the summer party and strategised some truly groundbreaking projects. We hope you enjoy reading about her experience of joining Kin + Carta and the paths it has led her down. You never know, maybe there’s a path at Kin + Carta for you too?

When I started as a strategist in 2016, the strategy team was small (only five of us) and made up entirely of men. Not only was I the first woman to be hired into the discipline, but I was also the first junior. At that time, we were growing fast and trying to figure out who we were as a team as we were an eclectic bunch, all coming from different backgrounds - advertising, product and traditional consulting. It was very fluid in terms of rules and responsibilities as we worked towards truly defining the role of strategy, compared to other roles in the business such as researcher, product owner, service designer etc. It was a great place to grow my career, because I got exposure to lots of these different roles, projects and industries from day one, giving me the opportunity to learn really quickly.

The diverse nature of working agency side and the fast pace environment of technology is why I picked Kin + Carta over other agencies. If you have a deep sector expertise and want to focus-in on work in one specific industry, then you can. But, if you’re interested in getting exposure to lots of different types of clients and industries and problems, you get to do that as well. That’s what I like. The other reason I joined was that I wanted to be involved in the execution side of things, not just the strategy side. Often, as a strategist, you make decks and when it’s time to execute, you’re no longer involved. The cross functional nature of how we work means that any strategic recommendation I make has to be grounded in technical, commercial and operational reality since we will be the ones responsible for delivering it. It’s the most exciting feeling in the world seeing your ideas come to life and get launched into the world.

Clara Monnet

In the past seven years, we’ve grown lots as an organisation through acquisition. Each new acquisition has brought a new set of skills and clients which meant that as a team, we’ve had to continuously adapt. We now have a highly experienced team that can deliver a wide range of work - from proposition development, new ventures and product discoveries to the more traditional digital transformation, digital maturity assessments and target operating models.

Although I’ve spent a lot of my career traversing different industries and working on a multitude of problems, the majority of my time has been spent in Financial Services working on innovation and product projects. I joined Kin + Carta on the cusp of PSD2 and open banking. These new regulations were going to completely shake up the industry, which was really exciting. I remember this time as being filled with so many predictions and hypotheses on how open banking would impact the banking landscape whilst also being a time that saw huge investments in the space, funding new fintech, challenger banks and products.

One of my first projects was an ongoing three-year engagement with Visa as their Innovation Partner. Our role was to figure out how these regulations were going to impact different aspects of banking. We explored the future of current accounts, savings, joint accounts, recurring payments, overseas transactions, credit, investments etc. Our focus was on developing point of views on the impact Open Banking would have, and identifying new digital products and services that could be designed and built to take advantage of this new world. The challenge for Visa and their clients was how to prevent customers, predominantly younger ones, from leaving them for these new challenger banks. So we were asking the questions: How do we actively keep these customers and improve their experience? In an open banking world, what useful things can you do with open access to data?

We were able to really deep dive into these issues, and gain experience across a breadth of different technologies, like voice and banking conversational UI. At the time, these were such new and innovative concepts and it really felt like we were at the cutting edge of technology. We were also able to test the impact of different API strategies, whilst working on both front and back end solutions. Soon enough, we got to the stage where we weren't just advising, but we were actually building and designing new products that would change our client and the industry at-large. After that project, our team at Kin + Carta had such a breadth of financial services expertise, it enabled us to really elevate our financial services portfolio with some of the biggest banks in the country, a lot of which we still work with today.

Clara testing Voice AI in the office
Clara testing Voice AI in the office

A few years after this piece of work, I was the lead strategist on my favourite project so far. We were working with a leading bank to launch a new digital venture - offering a Junior ISA to new parents. The concept was simple: instead of everyone buying presents for a baby, friends and family could pay into the child’s stocks and shares ISA, and when they turned 18, they had a nice pot of money. What was so exciting about this project was that it wasn’t just about defining a product or proposition, but also involved us building a commercially viable business. As it was outside the current ecosystem, we could create our own branding and had complete technical and design freedom.

Today, we’re seeing plenty of new challenges, and opportunities for the banks. As banks have a legal requirement to serve everyone, they have a lot of customers that aren’t profitable. For years, they have been exploring ways to serve them more cost effectively. This has resulted in the digitisation of many aspects of banking. Whilst this is great for some, in times of crisis, nothing beats the human touch and there’s a real opportunity for banks to explore ways to better serve their customers both online and offline. This is where access to data which can be used to better segment and triage customers is important. So, too, is exploring different servicing models and developing propositions around different types of customers based on their evolving needs, their money mindsets and life context. We all know that a one size fits all approach seldom works but until now, it’s been impossible to tailor things and make a profit. Now, with the proliferation of digital tools and greater access to data, there’s plenty of exciting approaches banks could take to better serve customers.

In the last seven years at Kin + Carta, the thing that has made the biggest impact on my career is the support I’ve received. Everyone I’ve worked with has always been really open to giving me feedback, telling me when I’m doing something wrong or right and pushing me to grow in an empathetic but transparent way. It's always been a safe environment to try and experiment, with a lot of visibility from leaders on how we’ve gotten where we are, as well as what’s worked and not worked along the way. The people that I’ve worked with have encouraged me to do things that I didn’t think I could do and challenged me to try new things. As the type of work we do is so varied, whether it’s having the opportunity to pitch to different industries around specific client problems or build new products, propositions or transformation strategies, the trust and support provided is essential. I have learnt so much in the last seven years and look forward to what the next seven have in store, however I’m sure the role of a strategist will fundamentally remain the same; understand different pieces of a puzzle and find the best way to put them together.

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