Innovation and transformation, whether in business or personal life, can be challenging. And yet it’s essential for progress – whether as a company or an individual.
For Maktuno Suit, a newly appointed NED (Non-Executive Director) at Warren Partners, embracing this sort of change has been the thread that’s run through his professional life. A business transformation expert, he’s helped people and companies adapt, evolve and grow for decades. And while the change he directs for others is meticulously planned, his personal turning point was more serendipitous.
“It happened at a party,” he explains. “As many good things often do. I was talking to a lawyer friend who explained that her team was experiencing some toxic dynamics due to very demanding but high paying clients. I gave her some advice, based on psychological principles around boundaries and expectation management. The feedback from her was that it worked brilliantly. And that was my catalyst for change.”
Up to that point, Maktuno had enjoyed a successful career in the public sector, using his education and training in psychotherapy and organisational psychology to apply service design thinking to transform public services so they produced better social outcomes for the people using them. It was a diverse role, taking in everything from creating better systems for GPs to bringing psychotherapeutic services to gang-affiliated young men who suffer from PTSD.
However, the success of that advice given casually at a party was intriguing and he set about designing a course that could help all lawyers experiencing similar client difficulties. It became the most well attended course the firm had ever run and Maktuno soon rolled it out to other legal organisations.
“I quickly realised ‘oh, I’ve got something here’ – applying psychotherapeutic principles that work in the public sector can also have huge benefits for the private sector,” he says.
That insight led to Maktuno founding Tenpercent Consulting, a cultural transformation business that helped to unlock potential in people and organisational ecosystems.
“I had clients such as Coutts and Amazon, but also several recruitment businesses,” he says. “I helped them build international operations in emergent markets and my time both running a small business and consulting with small businesses gave me a real love for SMEs. I enjoyed the opportunity to be agile and responsive to market needs and innovate quickly.”
The success of Tenpercent saw him being snapped up by PA Consulting, working on culture change and new value propositions for the group that included building innovative behavioural programmes to improve companies’ cybersecurity compliance.
A move to the marketing agency Iris Worldwide was next. In his role as Global Transformation Director, he spent two years helping to reposition the brand and reinvigorate its leadership team following an earn out.
“I helped us to focus on not just what our financial goals might be in, say, five years’ time but also what kind of business we wanted to be. What’s our purpose? How do we ensure our people are happy and motivated? Crucially, my role was also to ensure there was a clear narrative and story driving our ambitions.”
His time at Iris coincided with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Up until then, Maktuno had always slightly distanced himself from heading up professional diversity and inclusion initiatives, despite his ethnicity, as he wanted to concentrate on wider transformational roles.
“But as an Iris board member, I already knew I had the power to help drive change,” he says. “And this felt like the time to make ambitious changes around diversity and inclusion. We set metrics globally across multiple markets, pressed for greater supplier diversity and put in mandatory hiring shortlists to encourage greater ethnic and gender diversity for all roles. We even addressed issues in our advertising work for clients, tackling bias in marketing creative that might reinforce stereotypes.”
Maktuno’s current role is similarly broad. As the Global People Director, IT at the marketing network WPP, he’s helping to drive digital transformation across 110,000 employees worldwide.
“It comes with its challenges, as you’d expect in a company of this size and complexity,” he admits. “Our job is to synchronise and harness the technological capabilities and products that sit across WPP network’s agencies – so that we can leverage the latest innovation and deliver great work for our clients. It’s a very exciting time to be at the company, especially with how we are leaning into AI.”
Now, Maktuno brings that impressive track record to bear on his new role as a NED at Warren Partners. It’s a position that piqued his interest immediately.
“They are such a super smart bunch,” he says. “The energy I got from people like Joëlle and Kirsty from the moment I met them was incredible. Also, the fact that the business is employee-owned and puts purpose and ethics at the heart of its operation sits very much in the sweet spot for me.”
Helping businesses transform and grow is a “steel thread” that’s run constantly through his professional life and now Maktuno is eager to see how those skills and experience can best serve the future success of Warren Partners.
“At the end of the day, I’m fascinated by people and the change that those people can bring. Warren Partners is in the privileged and important position of being able to place leaders in roles where they can effect true change. Putting the right senior leader in the right role can help transform a whole business and work culture. Now that’s exciting.”