Strategic Planner of the Year 2020: Graham North, GS&P

In a challenging media environment, the role of strategic planner requires an unusual skill set. Having worked as an educator in Botswana, a travel writer and a start-up founder, among other roles, Graham North, group strategy director at GS&P, definitely brings a unique résumé and experience to the position. 

His background has perhaps made North especially open to innovative strategies — and capable of implementing them. He is known for creating spaces where colleagues feel free to express themselves and take risks. One of the clearest examples of this is the Brand Camp that he leads at GS&P. 

The six-week, clients-in-the-room program involves taking a deep dive into a brand, a consideration of trade-offs and helping clients rethink the strategic planning process. Provocative research, engaging exercises and masterful facilitation by North creates an environment where tough — and fruitful — conversations take place. 

This last year required an overnight transformation of Brand Camp, from a technology-free zone where participants were asked to relinquish their cell phones, to a digital experience. In one month, the addition of digital whiteboards, online exercises and podcast client briefings assured a seamless transition. 

North’s ability to rise to every challenge has been widely noticed. “Graham is spearheading a new way of thinking and approach to clients’ problems,” says Jeff Goodby, cofounder of GS&P. “It is exactly what clients need in this time of crisis and rapid reinvention.”

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