Will Burghes: The Universal Advantage of Mentorship
Will Burghes is the Executive Director of Data & Analytics at Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners (KBS), a global advertising agency headquartered in New York, and has spent his 13-year career helping companies make better decisions using data. Will holds a Master's Degree in Economics and Philosophy from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and started his career as an Engagement Manager and Consultant at Oliver Wyman's financial services practice in London, United Kingdom. Before joining KBS, Will held multiple senior executive roles at Brooklyn-based events business, Tough Mudder, a 10+ mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career path since you left Oliver Wyman?
My career has made a few twists and turns since leaving Oliver Wyman. I started on a fairly traditional path working with in-house strategy teams at Citi and Barclays Capital before joining Tough Mudder, a startup founded by my friend at University, Will Dean. Using my knowledge in data analysis, I worked to update and refine the Tough Mudder experience to encourage customer loyalty and maximize new customer acquisition. After a couple of years with the startup, I moved to my current role at KBS and was made the Head of the Data & Analytics team in mid-2017. In some ways, my career has now come to a full circle as my current role is similar to the work that I used to do at Oliver Wyman.
How is what you're doing now similar to what you did at Oliver Wyman? How is it different?
My current role at KBS is very similar to my consulting work at Oliver Wyman. I currently lead a team of employees who solve problems for our clients by using data intelligently, proving and disproving hypotheses, and synthesizing insights from multiple analyses. The main difference is that at KBS, our clients' have different problems related to marketing and advertising, and that is where we focus our efforts.
What was one of your most important experiences at Oliver Wyman?
Oliver Wyman has a strong mentorship culture, which is something that has stayed with me throughout my entire career. Even outside of formal mentorship programs, Oliver Wyman partners and managers always went out of their way to teach on the job, and that is something I try to do every day with my own team. In any client services job, there will be busy, high-stress periods, so taking the time to teach while also serving your client can be challenging. It's easy to let the coaching slip away in favor of other responsibilities, but Oliver Wyman taught me that to ensure the long-term success of your team, you can't disregard mentorship, even in busy times.
What do you do when you're not working?
When I'm not working I'm generally at home in Brooklyn with my wife and our dog, or in upstate New York exploring the Adirondack park. I try and spend as much time as possible outdoors – cycling, snowboarding, and hiking.
What are you reading?
Mostly non-fiction these days. I recently finished a great book about Alexander von Humboldt, before that a book on bubbles in the market for baseball cards, and another about the immigrant experience in New York City over the last 400 years. Right now, I'm reading about the history of my high school in South London, as well as a couple of books about employing data science and machine learning in business.