Welcome to our ‘Unlocking Leadership’ series, where we tap into the wisdom of some of the most inspiring founders, leaders and business minds of today. Explore insider stories, strategies and insights, as we unlock the secrets of successful leadership.

Andy Silcock and Adam Toms are the co-founders of Kid-A, an award-winning consultancy and managed services business working within the telecommunications sector. Kid-A, named after the fourth Radiohead album (both founders are self-professed music geeks), is now five years old and a purposeful, B Corp agency. Currently with a team of 18 people, the business is on a mission to be a force for good and a true disruptor in the space.

What is the biggest challenge your organisation is facing today? 

As with many businesses, our biggest challenge is the ongoing high cost of living in the UK. We’ve seen an impact on overall trading performances with our partners and we have had to focus on providing more value propositions for the consumer. This has been successful but has impacted revenues. Additionally, we’ve seen a general increase in manufacturing and logistical costs due to macro factors such as the war in Ukraine and Brexit.

We’ve had to move to working with new manufacturers in some instances which has seen positive results but we’ve also had to take on more administrative work.

What major events or trends affecting the telecoms industry have had the most impact on your business?

Our business operates in the telecoms sector which has undergone some pretty major changes in recent years, and this is likely to continue. We’ve seen consolidation with the mergers of big network operators, creating a fair degree of uncertainty but also opportunity.

The trends we’re seeing are towards longer customer contracts and more device recycling which are also making the industry slightly more unpredictable, but once again this creates new opportunities to deliver value propositions for customers.

What do you envision to be the ‘next big thing’ within the industry?

At Kid-A we firmly believe the next big thing is already here, and that’s the push towards sustainability and net zero. We’ve tried to take the lead on driving this agenda with our partners, and we are now a B Corp certified business. We have signed up to the science-based targets initiative (SBTi), are part of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), and a member of the UN Global Compact for the Environment. This has demonstrated our commitment to the objective of reaching net zero and decarbonising our business, and enabling our large partners to do the same.

We like to call ourselves ‘true believers’ at Kid-A, which is to say that we aren’t doing this as a box-tick exercise. We understand the critical importance of protecting our environment for us and future generations to enjoy and thrive. There’s also a clear commercial benefit to embracing sustainability and it’s probably the best and biggest example of a win-win situation you could hope to see. It’s urgent and vital for us all.

What excites you most about the future of the industry – and any upcoming opportunities for your organisation?

We’re excited to grow and work with more partners. We are a small business working with huge global organisations and there is always lots to discover and learn, both the good things and the bad!

What key principles guide your leadership during periods of uncertainty or rapid change?

As a five year old business, Kid-A has never experienced anything other than uncertainty and rapid change, so we feel comfortable here! As co-founders we’ve always strived to create the company that we have always wanted to work for. That’s easier said than done but we’re pretty happy with how we’re tracking.

We push back against corporate behaviours but recognise the value in some of the disciplines we’ve picked up over the years from working in large organisations. In terms of leadership, we believe in the importance of transparency with our people. This builds confidence in the team and belief in us, even when we are being open about the (many) mistakes we may have made on our journey so far.

We’ve created an environment where people feel that they can try things and make the odd mistake without feeling that they’re in jeopardy. Things move fast and change quickly so we’re never going to be able to make all the right moves. The key thing is not to freeze, so providing the confidence to try is fundamental to our success so far.

What strategies do you use to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace culture?

 We’re guided by the commitments we’ve made as part of our B-Corp and ‘Great Place to Work’ accreditations but we have also developed a behavioural framework aimed at delivering our best version of ourselves while we’re at work together. One of our six behaviours is ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ (taken from Randy Newman’s theme to Toy Story) and this is all about recognising each other as humans first. We value diversity and inclusivity and this comes from all of us looking out for each other and celebrating our differences.  

How do you measure the success and impact of your business, beyond financial performance?

 We have a number of ways to measure success outside of financial performance such as our annual impact assessment through the B Corp platform, our internal employee NPS measure, where our team feedback on a brief weekly questionnaire, our performance against our decarbonisation plan and also our overall B Corp submission score (which happily is going up!).   

What do you consider to be the three most important qualities of a leader?

There are so many ingredients to providing good leadership and having reflected on our experience over the last five years, three of the most important for us are: Integrity, awareness of our people and the current situation, and openness.

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve received? 

Don’t waste a good crisis! There’s always something to learn from setbacks and challenges in order to be a better business going forward. This is where the most valuable lessons often arise!

What has been a personal career highlight?

We can honestly say that the five years building this business — with the highs and occasional lows — has been pure joy. On the plus side, we can recommend going into business with close mates contrary to perceived wisdom.

What are some of your favourite aspects of working in this industry?

The people, the clients that we work with, and the ever-changing tech and toys that underpin our sector. Also, every day is a school day, so understanding how things work and keep being curious!

And finally, what’s a favourite motto that you often draw on?

‘Always outnumbered, never outgunned’. It’s the title of an album by The Prodigy and as a small team working with large organisations, it gives the team the belief and resilience required to deliver for our partners and ourselves.

Learn more about Kid-A here.

 

Explore our 2024 programme, Digital Britain: Connection the Nation

 

Our daily lives rely heavily on a digital infrastructure, from working from home, speaking to a loved one or watching TV. It’s important that every part of the UK has access to high quality, secure digital infrastructure, connectivity, technology and the services to support people in every aspect of their life. The sector is a cornerstone of the UK economy, in 2019, the digital sector contributed nearly £151 billion to the economy and constituted 9% of the national workforce*.

ITN Business will showcase the organisations that are playing a part in the digital revolution and enabling connectivity, along with the people implementing this transformation in Digital Britain: Connecting the Nation.

The news-style programme will be presented by journalist and ITV News presenter, Duncan Golestani, and will launch at Connected Britain, London, 11th-12th September 2024.

There are commercial opportunities for leading organisations to be featured in the programme and spearhead their own news item. If your organisation wants to share what you stand for and be part of this important conversation about connecting Britain, please contact Head Programming Director James Linden or Programming Director James Salver.