How Hyper Island’s alumni are making life better at work
Since graduating from Hyper Island’s Design Lead program in 2017 and Digital Media Creative program in 2018 respectively, Martin and Rasmus have both acquired a lot of business management experience under a short period of time.
Rasmus Noah Hansen studied a degree in Digital Concept Development at Copenhagen School of Design and Technology and went on to study the Digital Media Creative program at Hyper Island. After graduation, he worked as Process Leader at PwC’s Experience Center in Stockholm and most recently, as Organizational Coach before co-founding eliot with Martin in 2019.
Martin Bloomstine studied a degree in Digital Concept Development at Copenhagen School of Design and Technology, followed by the Design Lead program at Hyper Island in 2017. After graduating from Hyper Island, Martin worked as Service Designer and most recently (before co-founding eliot), as Brand Strategist and Learning Designer at Kontrapunkt in Denmark.
They now run their joint venture, eliot, a new type of consulting firm that focuses on making life better at work. We met up with them for a quick catch-up to find out more about how their Hyper Island journey influenced them in starting their company.
How did the idea behind eliot come about?
Rasmus: When I talk to people, their number one problem at their work is collaboration and culture. So many people are frustrated at their workplaces. You only have to look at the numbers: less than 1 out of 5 are engaged at work, which is both bad for business and negatively affects our lives outside of work. Martin and I have discussed this problem throughout our many years of friendship, and now with eliot we are trying to solve that.
At eliot, we help people, teams, and organizations evolve the workplace engagement. We do this by practicing a philosophy that we call ‘responsible’. ‘Responsible’ is all about developing the right conditions, mindset, and skills that lead to a more people-centered work culture. We wanted to build a consultancy and brand that’s more approachable and inclusive compared to what else we see in the market.
Martin: We started eliot for us to be challenged and shaken up. For myself, I want my life to be somewhat unpredictable and a bit shaky. It’s one of my main motivations: to get out of balance, learn, and grow, while doing things that matter.
What makes your company offering stand out?
Martin: A lot of traditional consultancies deliver long PDF documents with strategies or solutions, and the problem is that these are often not very actionable. People don’t know how to actually make these documents into any sort of change. I guess a lot of consultancies fail to succeed with the hardest and most important thing: the actual implementation. For any successful change, strategy or innovation to happen, it needs to be understood, owned, and implemented by the people it affects the most. It’s easy to tell people what to do, but how can we expect them to do it if they don’t know what it means or how to do it?
Rasmus: A problem we see is that a lot of consultants only focus on the end result – the strategy or solution that they hand over to the client at the end of a project. We strongly believe that the process in itself is just as, if not more, important as the end result because it contains all the experiences and moments that change people’s mindset, excites them, creates ownership and ultimately, makes the change a successful experience for as many people as possible.
Martin: That’s why we believe in forming a close relationship with our clients to ensure we create the ownership, learning, and relations needed to do something in a new and better way. When we design and facilitate a change process, we bring our knowledge and experience within culture, organizational design, team development, etc. However, we always tell our clients that we don’t hold all the answers for them! All organizational cultures are different and need different solutions, even for similar problems, so we believe in an explorative and collaborative process between us and our clients.
Did your time at Hyper Island influence your career choices, and if so, in what way?
Martin: It definitely helped; before I joined, I had an assumption of what I wanted to do, which got challenged a lot at HI and at some point, I got lost in a way – but in a good way. I did various things after Hyper Island, but slowly, I found out what I’m good at, what I think is fun, what motivates me, and how I can help other people.
Rasmus: For me it did; I studied Digital Media Creative, which introduced me to many of the things I work with today, such as process design and facilitation, team development, and organizational design.
What was it like to study at Hyper Island?
Martin: It was a huge acceleration of my professional and personal
self, which of course are dependent on one another. When attending other schools, it wasn’t an acceleration of who I am in the same way. So for me, it definitely was an eye-opener and I learned a lot of things that I’m still using today.
Rasmus: The biggest journey was my personal development – more so than the professional. Learning about myself and how I behave, how I affect others and how they affect me. Just increasing my self-awareness and my ability to reflect and learn from the experiences I have. That of course also translates directly into my professional life.
How do you imagine your next few years? What would you like to achieve?
Rasmus: With eliot, we truly want to help organizations create a better work environment, but we are also super curious about creating and developing our own organization. We want to stay in the mindset of not always sticking to the things we know, but making sure we try new things, keep challenging ourselves and stay in a state of “always be learning”. If in a few years, I’m happy and still feel challenged, it doesn’t matter whether we are 2 or 30 people at eliot.
Do you have any advice for incoming Hyper Island students?
Rasmus: I think everyone can benefit from going to HI – of course, some more than others. But everyone, if they lean in and take part, will learn something about themselves on a professional and personal level. Remember to be curious and as open to the processes possible.