Claire Quansah | The Innovator 25 EMEA 2023

Claire Quansah

Quansah Consulting 



“You don’t have the option not to embrace innovation. The world is changing, the industry is changing. It is becoming increasingly difficult to gain and maintain attention, so you have to think differently if you want to cut through.” 

Having lead consumer and B2B campaigns for some of the world’s leading brands, at agencies including Golin and MC2, Claire Quansah started to pivot her career in 2017 to focus on making agencies more professional, first as Red Havas’ first operations director, and then at independent agency Social’s first head of client and business development. In June this year, she launched her own business, Quansah Consulting, working with growing agencies to improve their quality, efficiency and consistency, looking at operations and processes from client services and supplier relationships, to people development. People have always been at the heart of Quansah’s approach: as a long-time advocate for diversity and equality in the creative and communications industries, she always champions and supports people from underrepresented backgrounds to help them get the careers they deserve. She was a member of advisory board for The Blueprint diversity mark and a mentor for BME PR Pros and its executive leadership scheme, The Xec, as well as being a tutor on The Xec course and an advisor for The Pros Awards. Elizabeth Bananuka, the power behind these initiatives, says of Quansah: “Claire is simply one of the great BME leaders – no, leaders! – in the industry. She's fantastic, full of integrity, genuinely lives and breathes the values of good DEI, and consistently lifts others. She's also hugely talented, a razor-sharp comms pro, warm, fun, funny, clever, and engaging. She’s an absolute joy to work with and I value her consistently wise counsel. I suspect her humility has probably fooled a lot of people into underestimating her brilliance.”

How do you define innovation?
Finding a new, better and effective way to solve a problem or achieve a goal. For something to be innovative it has to actually change the status quo or, at least, the way we view it. It doesn’t always have to be mind-blowing.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
I really liked the Asics campaign to train AI to show the benefits of exercise beyond chiselled abs and perky buttocks. AI is a hot topic and everyone is using it to create a ‘thing’, but this was a different, effective use of it that had a real purpose.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
The brands that are really listening to their audiences and then find new ways to engage them. Agency wise, it’s the ones that are genuinely committed to diversity and inclusion. When you look at the agencies that are winning clients, winning awards and growing their teams, it can’t be a coincidence that they are the same ones who are walking the talk when it comes to diversity and inclusion. They are the ones seeing the cultural and commercial benefits of having a diverse team, because they have created environments that foster innovation.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
Not to blow my own trumpet, but starting Quansah Consulting was something I’d consider to be innovative. I realised that fast-growing, owner-managed agencies were struggling to get their ops in order, but didn’t have the bandwidth to hire a full time, experienced operations leader. These ‘growing pains’ are really holding back many agencies, so we created a model that solves the problem for them. And it seems to be working!

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
That is a tough one… I think Bozoma Saint John is pretty innovative. Her career, her life events, her philanthropic work. She is someone who has taken control of her brand and story. I love the fact she uses her platform to promote and support Ghana, too.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Exercise! Give me a few heavy weights to lift and a bit of old-school hip hop and my head is cleared. I find that focusing on a completely different task really helps.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
You don’t have the option not to embrace innovation. The world is changing, the industry is changing. It is becoming increasingly difficult to gain and maintain attention, so you have to think differently if you want to cut through. Whether that’s with technology, partnerships or even your infrastructure and the way you operate, refusing to embrace innovation means you’ll fall behind. But don’t just think in a PR bubble. There are plenty of other industries that can influence and inspire, so be prepared to look further afield.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
Given that there isn’t really a market for lip-synching 90s R’n’B songs, I’m not sure. In all seriousness, I’d probably be working in the hospitality sector, somewhere hot, with blue seas, white sands and a welcoming culture. I spent most of my teens and early twenties working in customer-facing roles and really enjoyed interacting with new people every day.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
Don’t judge me. Love is Blind! As awful as it might be, I think (binge) watching it during a period of unemployment just reminded me about the power of taking a chance and following your gut, regardless of what people say. Some might tell you you’re silly, making a bad or risky decision. It might end up a hot mess or could end up being the best decision you ever made, but you’ll never know if you never try. Isn’t it better to try something and fail, than to wonder ‘what if?’

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
We need to be brave and humble enough to work together. DEI isn’t a battle, but an opportunity. Talk to each other, listen and learn from each other. I’m certainly seeing more of this now than a few years ago, but I still think organisations are trying to solve the problem alone, when there’s so much more power in actually working together. And those of us in the UK outside of London need to catch up. There are some great brands and agencies outside the M25 and we have a lot of talent, I’m sure we can find innovative ways to approach DE&I. We just need to get on with it!