Design in risk

Design in risk

Interview with Max Cantellow, The Venturer (Deloitte Ventures' internal publication)

Courtesy: Hana Stone
Courtesy: Hana Stone

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.