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Tech leadership unveiled: A journey of innovation, collaboration, and transformation with James Whinn at Expert Thinking

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Employee Spotlight: James Whinn

Firstly, what made you decide to join Expert Thinking?

Expert Thinking is an exciting company in many ways. The premise of ET is built on innovation and cutting through all the noise to deliver successful outcomes for customers. One of the things that really differentiates Expert Thinking is the way the team is really invested in every customer’s success.  

As an analogy, Expert Thinking for me is also about being part of a collective reminiscent likened to the ‘PayPal Mafia,’ as Peter Thiel describes in his book Zero to One. It’s that caliber of a team where you know without a doubt that you can overcome the thorniest of problems and achieve success, regardless of the stakes or obstacles ahead. Thiel’s vision of a tight-knit group of people who trust each other and work well together echoes the collaborative ethos I see at Expert Thinking. The way the team not only tackles but thrives on complex challenges is precisely the kind of environment I seek—one where the combination of talent, drive, and mutual support creates a breeding ground for innovation and exceptional outcomes. I am excited about the idea of contributing to and growing within such a dynamic and resilient team, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to deliver not just satisfactory but ground-breaking solutions for our customers.

James Whinn, Director of Consulting, Expert Thinking

As a technology leader and Director of Consulting, what emerging trends are you most excited about, and how do you see them shaping the future?

It has to be AI – its real-world application, it’s so vast, the possibilities are endless which is really exciting.  There is huge value that this can bring to customers, there is no technology that I have worked with which will bring the same value.   

It will inform customers decisions moving forward, drive efficiency and has true worldwide impact.  Everyone is talking about chatbots, but its not the real value stuff, once we are past the hype cycle everyone will then see a massive drive-in efficiency and its true value.  It will give end users what they need be able to deliver bespoke offerings on the fly.  Its massive. 

In such a constantly evolving tech landscape, how do you ensure the team at Expert Thinking stays ahead of the curve in terms of skills and knowledge to provide the best service to your customers?

There are multiple angles to this. Firstly, as an organisation, we bring in the right people who are driven by innovation, they are all passionate about tech and solving real problems. This is what drives the innovation. We always look at identifying the problem and then the solution. It’s not a solution and then find a problem. We then use the best tech for the use case.  

To ensure our team stays at the cutting edge, we actively cultivate a culture of continuous learning and improvement. We encourage our team members to regularly engage in professional development through specialised training, certifications, and conferences. This not only keeps their skills up-to-date but also stimulates creative thinking and problem-solving. 

Moreover, we leverage a collaborative approach where cross-functional teams come together to brainstorm and tackle challenges. This diversity of thought and expertise leads to more robust and innovative solutions. Our internal practices also provide a platform for team members to explore new technologies and develop prototypes, keeping their skills sharp and their approaches innovative. 

We also keep a close eye on technological trends and advancements. Through strategic partnerships with tech leaders and academic institutions, we gain early insights into breakthrough technologies. This enables us to prepare our teams through targeted training and pilot projects, positioning us to leverage these advancements for our customers’ benefit. 

As a Director of Consulting, what leadership principles guide your approach in fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration within your tech teams?

This comes down to the people we hire. The environment that I want to create is that people are forthcoming with ideas.  We set aside time to talk about these things, everyone at ET is fanatical about tech landscape and reading around this.  We bounce ideas around and challenge each other which is really encouraged and propels innovation. Ultimately, as Director of Consulting, my leadership is guided by several core principles that I believe are essential in cultivating a culture of innovation and collaboration within tech teams: 

Empowerment: Granting autonomy is key. It encourages ownership and sparks innovation 

Vision and Agility: We align with a clear, purpose-driven vision, while remaining agile to pivot as needed, fostering a nimble and forward-thinking team culture 

Diversity of Thought: I actively seek out and value different perspectives, as this diversity fuels creativity and leads to better problem-solving. 

Open Communication: I insist on transparent communication, facilitating an environment where collaboration is natural and every voice can be heard. 

Continuous Learning: I promote an ethos of lifelong learning, providing opportunities for my team to grow and stay ahead of the tech curve.  

How do you balance the need for innovation with the practical aspects of delivering projects on time and within budget?

This comes down to defining the outcome from the outset – we aim to define success not only in terms of project completion but also in terms of ongoing utility and relevance. We avoid the pitfall of creating solutions that are outdated upon delivery by planning for future use cases from the beginning. This involves future-proofing our solutions with scalable and adaptable frameworks. 

We maintain a fine balance between innovation and practicality by thoroughly qualifying the ‘ask’ at the start. This means understanding the client’s needs deeply enough to anticipate future demands and changes in technology. By defining the right outcomes and success metrics early, we can innovate within a framework that allows for flexibility while also staying aligned with the project’s time and budget constraints. 

In essence, it’s a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to innovation – one that’s integrated into the lifecycle of the project rather than tacked on. This ensures that our solutions are not only innovative but also deliver tangible value over the long term 

How do you assess the balance between leveraging existing technologies and exploring new, potentially disruptive technologies for the benefit of your customers?

Balancing existing and new technologies is a matter of strategic alignment and risk assessment. We start by thoroughly understanding our client’s strategic objectives and the role technology plays in their competitive landscape. 

For existing technologies, we assess their performance, scalability, and how well they integrate with the client’s current systems. The goal is to ensure a robust foundation that can support growth without unnecessary disruption. 

When it comes to new technologies, we take a measured approach. We evaluate their potential to add value and offer a competitive edge, but also consider the risks and readiness of our customers to adopt these innovations. This involves a cost-benefit analysis and a clear road map for implementation that aligns with the client’s business strategy. 

We also engage in proof-of-concept projects to validate the impact of new technologies before recommending a full-scale roll-out. This iterative approach allows us to measure effectiveness, gain valuable insights, and make data-driven decisions. 

Ultimately, the balance is achieved by maintaining a clear focus on the client’s long-term success, ensuring technology decisions are not just about keeping pace with trends but about driving tangible business outcomes. 

Are you able to share a success story or a particular project where your team's technological innovation had a significant impact on a client’s success?

Expert Thinking collaborated with a Fortune 500 global logistics provider, to revolutionise their IT infrastructure through the introduction of a Cloud Native Platform on Azure. This platform transformed the organisations approach to technology, substantially reducing costs, optimising resource utilisation, and enhancing developer experience. Key results included a 90% reduction in infrastructure costs, 86% decrease in server fulfillment costs, and 65% savings in maintenance costs per annum. The platform also brought intangible benefits such as improved agility, innovation, and time to market, ultimately strengthening the orgs competitive edge in the market. 

As a remote first company, how do you manage and lead the teams to ensure optimal collaboration and productivity?

This comes down to the culture that we foster, which emphasises asynchronous communication to minimise disruptions. We focus on maintaining the delivery and morale of the team, especially considering that uninterrupted focus is critical for performance. By allowing consultants to collaborate in real time and control their workload, we enhance both satisfaction and productivity. 

We are intentional about reducing unnecessary meetings, allowing for deep work periods. When synchronous collaboration is necessary, we ensure it is meaningful and purpose-driven. 

Moreover, we’ve cultivated a culture of open communication where our team members reach out proactively when support is needed. This eliminates the need for excessive check-ins, as everyone understands that help is just a message away. It’s this trust and empowerment that enable us to operate effectively in a remote-first environment, ensuring that we remain cohesive, agile, and responsive to our customers’ needs.

In such a competitive tech landscape, how do you think Expert Thinking differentiates itself in terms of technology and innovation?

We at Expert Thinking take a principled stance on our engagements, which sets us apart in this competitive field. Our transparency about our capabilities—what we excel at and where we can generate the most value—is refreshing to customers weary of overpromises. By specialising in areas we’re passionate about, we maintain a high standard of quality in our deliverables. 

Our commitment is to perform transformational work. We achieve this by staying true to our core competencies and by cultivating deep partnerships with our customers. This approach not only ensures our integrity but also drives our customers’ success. We don’t just aim to meet expectations; we strive to redefine them through innovative solutions that resonate with our expertise and passion. 

This dedication to transformation, coupled with our expertise, allows us to lead with innovation that is both meaningful and practical. We’re not just another tech company; we’re a partner invested in making a significant impact on our customers’ businesses. 

What are you most looking forward to in your next 5 years at ET?

We aim to position Expert Thinking as a premier consultancy, guiding customers through the maze of technological choices to ensure they adopt solutions that truly drive their business forward. Our focus will be on empowering customers not just to keep pace with technology trends, but to be at the forefront, using technology as a lever for growth and innovation. 

I’m particularly looking forward to how our team will grow and adapt during this time. As we refine our expertise and expand our services, we’ll be enabling our customers to accelerate their success in an increasingly digital world. The drive towards more strategic, high-impact work excites me, as it aligns with our vision of delivering not just technology, but transformation. 

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If you're interested in pushing boundaries and pioneering innovative solutions in the cloud, whether in Portugal or the UK, Expert Thinking is the place to be!

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