Bronwyn van der Merwe
As the VP of Design at Culture Amp, I lead the design capability for the Culture Amp product. Our mission is to create a better world of work, through employee engagement, development and performance.
Previously, as the GM of Fjord and the Design Lead for Accenture Interactive in the Asia Pacific region, I worked with clients to transform their organisations and create value through customer-centred service design and product innovation.
I have had the honour of being a jury member for various design awards including Women in Digital, Cannes Lion, D&AD and the Good Design Awards - always an incredible source of inspiration and jolt of creativity.
Finally, I count myself lucky to live in Sydney with my husband and two kids where I have the opportunity to re-energise by hiking in the local bush with my cocker spaniel, Cookie, or by swimming in the ocean.
Career & Background
What inspired you to do what you are doing now?
I am inspired by Culture Amp’s mission to create a better world of work. As a designer I have spent my whole career re-imagining experiences to make them more human-centred, whether that be customer experiences, citizen experiences or now, at Culture Amp, helping company’s create an employee experience that people love. I have always been drawn to people and culture initiatives at work, with the aim of creating work places where employees feel they belong, where there is equity, inclusion and diversity.
This role, as VP of Design at Culture Amp, enables me to help organisations get the employee engagement, performance and development tools and insights they need to build a category-defining culture, at scale.
Could you tell us a bit about your professional background?
My professional background is in product design, service design, customer experience, innovation and growth. I started out at the BBC, when I was living in the UK, and moved from coding to web design to design leadership over the 10 years that I worked there. Moving back to Australia with my husband and two kids in 2011, I transitioned into the agency side of things, working at Massive Interactive who specialised in design for multi-screen entertainment. In 2014 I was hired by Accenture to establish the global design business Fjord here in Australia.
Over the next 8 years I grew that business to 350+ people across the Asia Pacific region, launching studios in Singapore and Tokyo. Most recently, I joined Culture Amp as their VP of design, which is a move into a high-growth tech scale up focussed on employee experience.
Your favourite food for thought
- ‘The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership’ by Dr. Joelle K. Jay
- ‘Dare to Lead’ and all of Brené Brown’s other books, TED talks and podcasts
- ‘Positive Intelligence’ by Shirzad Chamine
Podcasts / Thought Leaders
- ‘We can do hard things’ – Glennon Doyle, Abbie Wombach and Amanda Doyle
- ‘Diary of a CEO’ – Steven Bartlett
- ‘Work Life’ and ‘ReThinking’ – Adam Grant
What drives and inspires you
What are your core values?
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
So many – it’s hard to choose just one! Brené Brown for her research on shame, vulnerability, and leadership. Indi Young for her three books, ‘Time to Listen’, ‘Practical Empathy’ and ‘Mental Models’. Indi is a researcher who teaches practitioners to truly pay attention to people, without letting cognitive bias and assumptions creep in. Oliver James for his books on psychology, two of my favourites being ‘They F*** You Up: How To Survive Family Life’ and ‘Affluenza’.
You as a Mentor
Why have you decided to become a mentor?
I have become an Assisterhood mentor because I enjoy connecting with and supporting other women as they navigate their career journey. I have been supported by many wonderful women; mentors, coaches, therapists, friends and family as I’ve moved through my life and career and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without their guidance. I hope I can provide the same value to a mentee to help them achieve their ambitions and have a meaningful and fulfilling career.
What are the top 5 skills or qualities you bring to mentoring?
- Asking powerful questions
- Willing to be vulnerable