Design in risk
Interview with Max Cantellow, The Venturer (Deloitte Ventures' internal publication)
You are the Head of Business Shaping and Design for Risk Advisory, what other services lines might call a Venture Lead. To the untrained eye, these are two areas that may come across as quite polarised! How does the word ‘design’ fit into RA?
As a Business Designer, I look at Venture Creation and Business Shaping with the beneficiary in mind; I map systems and processes in alignment with the value that they add. In terms of the firm and Risk Advisory, the ability to deliver a well-designed solution is key to mitigating risk.
You have over ten years’ of experience across a range of areas, including education, sustainability and publishing. Given how differently these areas function, have you got a formula or way of working for how to ensure you get the best out of yourself?
Entrepreneurship is a generalist activity. I find goals a bit of a distraction, instead I focus on lines of inquiry, habits and systems that align in a positive direction, looking for incremental improvement and competency.
How do you ensure your work remains meaningful to you, your client and beneficiaries?
I'm pretty absurd so meaning is something I actively cultivate and create instead of waiting for, as passion develops after competency. I align my work with my ethics and elide opportunities that run contrary. To freelance is the berth of perpetual change, you learn to constantly reinvent yourself as a business would in service of the clients and beneficiaries, with each iteration converging closer to what makes you happy.
You have also travelled a huge amount in and out of work. Does how you define happiness and meaningful adapt as you move across cultures?
I've always moved, so home is wherever I am. I have an algebraic mind, so new grammar and short-hands come to me quite naturally. I do my best to plug-in and invest long-term from the outset in relationships of all kinds, in the community through skills volunteering and mentorship and to take an interest in where I am so it doesn't feel so alienating – no matter how long I plan to stay put.
Do you have a drink that keeps you ticking? If so, what is it?
I have three speeds actually: espresso, matcha and whisky.
Some of my first clients were coffee people; wholesalers, roasters and restaurants; tea ceremonies were a formative part of my adulthood in East Asia and, I sat on an informal jury for a few years to appraise whisky barrels for bottling.