Lucky Beard Tech MD: ‘AI presents both threats and opportunities’

29 Jun 2023

Marc Allwright. Image: Lucky Beard

Marc Allwright of Lucky Beard talks to about his role as managing director of the company’s technology division.

Marc Allwright is the managing director at Lucky Beard Tech, the technology division of design and digital advisory company Lucky Beard.

Allwright has more than 20 years of technology, digital and management consulting experience. Prior to joining Lucky Beard, he was chief operating officer at Wunderman Thompson in South Africa, a subsidiary of multinational communications company WPP.

In his current role as managing director of Lucky Beard Tech, Allwright sets the strategic direction of the business and orchestrates the team to deliver digital transformation solutions for their clients.

‘A transparent and collaborative approach enhances everyone’s chances of achieving their goals’

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

As with many other sectors, AI is simultaneously presenting a threat and an opportunity. The field of software development is projected to be one of the hardest hit. While that may be discomforting for some, our approach is to embrace AI swiftly and experiment with its potential to remain at the forefront of the disruption and effectively adapt to changes as they happen.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

Our clients are faced with a pressing need to streamline complexity. Far too often, their customers’ experiences are fragmented and disconnected.

Our approach focuses on simplifying their tech infrastructure to establish a unified and coherent technology strategy that harmonises their customer experiences across the diverse touchpoints through which they interact. Being part of the wider Lucky Beard family means that the technology solutions we deliver are holistic and always aligned with the client’s north-star vision, which is firmly rooted in their business and brand strategy.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

My early career was in business management and consulting with companies such as Accenture. In 2008, I founded Applogix – a martech and e-commerce company – which was sold to WPP in 2014. Crucial to that deal was the current Lucky Beard chairman and managing partner of Venture CapitalWorks, Brent Shahim. Brent and I stayed in touch over the years and when I was starting to look for a new challenge, he suggested I talk to the team at Lucky Beard where the synergies were immediately obvious.

It’s important to work with people you enjoy spending time with and that operate from a similar value set and I have found that within Lucky Beard.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

I think leaving my corporate consulting job to start Applogix in 2008. I was performing well within the corporate sector and earning a good salary. Giving that up to pursue my entrepreneurial calling was a big step, but ultimately the best move I could have made.

What one work skill do you wish you had?

I would say the ability to design better than I currently do. Design is so integral to being able to convey great stories. While I have deep technical and commercial skills, I rely on the exceptional talent of my strategy and design teams to produce impactful and intuitive interfaces that enhance the user experience of the technology solutions we develop for our clients.

How do you get the best out of your team?

I strongly believe in fostering open and transparent communication. I am philosophically opposed to rigid hierarchical structures and strive to create an environment where every team member feels valued and contributes meaningfully. I actively encourage questioning and to have a hunger for learning. As a leader, I recognise the importance of enabling and empowering others, and I am always prepared to support and assist my team.

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

Diversity is an undeniable challenge within the technology sector. In our efforts to address this issue, we actively promote internships to empower underrepresented groups. Additionally, we support organisations such as GirlCode, which actively encourages greater female participation in the technology industry. We firmly believe that diversity is crucial for robust problem-solving, and we consider it a fundamental aspect of our business.

What’s the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

Share information and communicate well. While some believe that holding onto information gives them power, I believe true empowerment comes from sharing knowledge and information. A transparent and collaborative approach enhances everyone’s chances of achieving their goals.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike Phil Knight; A Promised Land by Barack Obama; and Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

To be honest, my notebook is an invaluable tool for me. Despite its old-school nature, I find that the act of writing helps me solidify my thoughts and remember important actions from meetings. I also use Pipefy to track my customer engagements, which serves as a helpful reminder for upcoming business development tasks.

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