Our Speaker Spotlight sets the stage to get to know our speakers on a more personal level and connect them with our growing community. Read the mini-interview below!

A bit about Andy

I have 25 years under my belt in digital/product, am lucky to have worked with some amazing clients on some fascinating projects, and love combining delightful user experiences and exceptional engineering to create best-in-class applications.

I’m grateful to have found myself in an agency/consultancy where every day is different, and the constant exposure to a variety of projects and industries makes it possible to continue to add value to tomorrow’s challenges.
Always happy to talk to anyone about digital, running, and triathlons.
Sometimes at the same time.

How did you start out in your career?

I was a self-taught, self-employed web developer in 1998 (handing out the Metro in the morning, and working in a call centre in the evening to make ends meet).

There have been so many changes since then – the wider adoption of CSS, SEO, the arrival of mobile devices, “digital product”, DevOps, etc.

What are the signs of success in your field?

My field has so much breadth and depth, that it’s hard to define. I fell far enough behind in design and engineering years ago to be allowed anywhere near anything production.

My focus these days is on innovation and strategy, and I’ve been lucky to have been hands-on with most of the required skills on my journey.

Signs of success for me as a digital transformation consultant is to be able to discuss commercial viability, UX, UI, and engineering requirements, and sometimes even estimate costs and timescales over a coffee.

What is the best and worst thing about your job role?

The best thing is definitely the variety. Great delivery needs a strong understanding of the business requirements, so I’ve had the pleasure of looking under the bonnet across insurance, double glazing, utilities, D2C, car parks – you name it.

Another thing is getting to choose who you work with. I guess you end up not winning work from people who have different values or expectations, so you end up with clients you love. The same applies to people you hire. Our team is made up of some of the most passionate and quality-focused people who genuinely want to deliver great work.

Running a business can obviously be challenging. I’m busy when we’re quiet, finding work or reallocating the team to internal projects, and I’m busy when demand is high, either hiring or clearing the decks to make sure our team can focus on delivery.

What can you advise someone just starting out in your industry to be successful?

If you’re right at the beginning of your journey, it’s better to have one “Magnus opus” in your portfolio than 10 projects you did at university that look like everyone else’s.

University gives you a year for a project, the real world gives you a month. Come up with an idea, plan it well, design it well (or get someone to design it well), and build it to production standards with no shortcuts.

Always question whether you’re adding value. Pride and recognition come from being able to make an impact, not just turning up 9 to 5.

How do you switch off?

I try to run 10k most days. I find it’s a great way to get some fresh air and daylight, let solutions to the day’s tasks form in my mind, and keep fit.

I don’t like sitting still, so struggle with TV and books.

What advice would you give your younger self?

You’re grafting, learning, and delivering, so stop worrying, it’ll come together.

Don’t wait until you’re 45 to realise that the reason for your sleep and anxiety issues is that small, regular alcohol habit. Try and drink no more than once or twice a week.

Eat more beans and pulses.

Oh, and try running, you’ll love it.

What is next for you?

As the pieces of Sputnik have come together, I find my role more and more strategic and less hands-on.

The business doesn’t require me to be fee-earning, so I love being able to share my knowledge and experience with internal client teams who want an external view of a project.

Most of my advisory has been behind closed doors, so perhaps more roundtable-type events.

I’m not a confident public speaker, so maybe more of that just to skill up and collect the badge while I still have time on the planet.

If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?

Jim (my business partner) and I have made a few investments in other businesses over the years, although we’ve always been fairly hands-off so that we can focus on Sputnik.

The culture and direction for Sputnik are fairly well defined now, and if I could, I’d probably give a bit more time to the investment businesses to see if I could help them.

What are your top 5 predictions in your industry for the next 5 years?

The problem with predicting in Q1 2024 is that it will be out of date by Q2.

So not so much predictions, but extrapolations of what’s happening now, and what could happen soon (don’t @ me in 6 months).

  1. AI Agents – AI features chained together to complete complex tasks, such as finding a supplier, making a booking, paying, and scheduling delivery – all in answer to “buy my Mum a birthday present she will like”. No more reliance on SERPs, different integrations for ecom platforms, lots more interoperability for anyone wanting to be part of the ecosystem (and protectionism to keep the competition out), etc.
  2. Metaverse / Apple Vision Pro – The current product demonstrates the ability to float browsers inside the augmented environment, but why would we still be designing for screens when screens were made for the physical world? Innovation in UI design for new platforms?
  3. AR with everything – still a few years away but contact lenses and/or neural implants will bring the Apple Vision Pro experience to everyone. Reduction in processor size, and improvements in screen and battery technology will be with us soon enough.
  4. Single Use Apps – not only will AI allow you to build an app without being able to design or code, it will build an app, such as the “birthday present” agent above, but it will build it, run it, then delete it. It can build it again, better, when it needs to.
  5. As everyone’s job gets consumed by AI, everyone will retrain as a tradesman, and you will finally be able to get a builder to finish the extension.


Watch Andy’s talk on Why ‘web performance’ should be ‘part of the conversation’ for marketers here.

Thank you to the wonderful Andy for taking part in our community!