Meet the Experts : Rachele Simms

category - strategy
type - meet the experts
Meet The Experts
In this month’s edition of Meet the Experts, and to celebrate International Women’s Day today, we’re chatting with our director of strategy and planning Rachele Simms about her role turning foresight into strategic decision-making tools and how her unorthodox thinking inspires her work. 

: How would you describe your role and area of expertise at The Future Laboratory?

As the director of strategy and planning, I head up our strategic consultancy and sit on the Senior Leadership Team [SLT] where I’m responsible for optimising the quality of strategic and commercial thinking across the business, and therefore the growth of our client-facing services.  

: As an analyst, strategist and SLT member, what does your typical week look like? 

From day to day I play a pivotal role in nurturing and mentoring my team of strategists, futurists, analysts, writers and researchers. We work directly with global brands and businesses to turn our LS:N Global foresight into strategic decision-making tools that align clients’ current business objectives with these future scenarios.

My role spans a bit of everything, I think – from commercial and client meetings and new business to company culture and, of course, the quality assurance of our client deliverables. With over 18 years of industry experience, almost 10 of which have been with The Future Laboratory, I combine my creative background and strong commercial acumen to focus on constantly progressing and improving our offering across the trends to action foresight and strategic programmes.

: How do you go about turning The Future Laboratory trends into practical and strategic implications? 

Our work provides a direction, plan of action and/or roadmap for sustainable value creation, all of which is grounded in our foresight and applied to the broader context of a business. 

We are method-neutral. We use the right combination of strategic research and futures tools to shed light on a business challenge. The focus is on identifying insights that enable clients to rethink what they know about today, and refocus brand and business plans on the consumer, category and context of tomorrow.

Our work really enables teams to plan for change and contribute to future-proofing their business, now, new and next. In identifying innovation, value and growth, we help brands and businesses define the right future-fit strategy – making enlightened and informed plans in the present that lead to a better tomorrow. 

:  Why do you believe that trends and foresight are so important for businesses in 2023?

For all the disruption over the past few years, we are seeing a post-pandemic society being shaped by a new set of key inflection points. This year, in our Global Drivers Refresh, we’ll be detecting the impactful changes and new developments, and tracking these new influences for 2023. As a part of this, the team have already conducted extensive STEEP factor analysis. One thing we can see is that the next decade will be defined by a recalibration of our relationship with technology – so 2023 will be focused on meta-curiosity and preparing for digital resilience.

Published by:

8 March 2023

Author: Rachele Simms

Image: The Future Laboratory


Left: Rachele Simms, director of strategy and planning, The Future Laboratory. Right: LabMeta for The Future Laboratory

: Tell us about one of your most recent and most exciting projects at The Future Laboratory. 

We have had a few clients ask us to refresh their creative trends and strategies. One focused on design directions, which would decode Web3 for its sector as new and exciting forms of self-expression emerge in the metaverse. How could we decode sociocultural shifts and the future of creativity to highlight new initiatives and opportunities for its brand portfolio to leverage?

: What was your plan B career? 

Although I studied Fashion Design and Business, I grew up spending what feels like most weekends at Silverstone, Donington Park or Brands Hatch. When not driving an articulated lorry for a living, my dad was a freelance motorsport photojournalist. I’d have to say plan B was to lead an F1 strategy team [it’s probably no surprise that I love my current job and career path]. Using every available piece of data – human and machine – to build a detailed picture of all possible scenarios and then implementing the right strategies to win races and World Championships: the dream!
: What led you to working in strategic foresight? 

While still studying, and in the early part of my career, I learnt about the intrinsic role trends and forecasting play in design and the flow of influence on people and culture. I guess I’ve always been an unorthodox thinker, slightly sceptical and inquisitive – the only certainty is uncertainty, after all – so scenario-planning and betting on the counter-intuitive have always seemed pretty plausible to me.

: Your favourite way to unwind? 

On the terraces, supporting West Ham United. And, if that fails, hanging out with my little girl at the City Farms.  

: Your go-to working snack and after-work tipple? 

Umm, yes, I am that person who doesn’t have a sweet tooth, and I’m really not a snacker. But, everybody at work knows it’s probably a cheesestring. 

: What trend are you most excited about for the year ahead? 

Last year we wrote the latest beauty sector macrotrend, Accredited Beauty. As consumers seek proof points on product quality, efficacy and sustainability, we are seeing scientific evidence driving the healthification of the beauty industry. It’s these new forms of accreditation that are transcending beauty to inform wider influence. In these unprecedented times, when greenwashing, government censorship and fake news dominate the global cultural discourse, we’re seeing citizens who are in search of clarity and certainty, and there is a surging re-engagement with science, space, awe and the age of the nano-expert. 

‘I guess I’ve always been an unorthodox thinker, slightly sceptical and inquisitive – the only certainty is uncertainty, after all – so scenario-planning and betting on the counter-intuitive have always seemed pretty plausible to me.’
Rachele Simms, director of strategy and planning, The Future Laboratory

Want to learn more about life at The Lab?

Here at The Future Laboratory, our team are constantly striving for betterment in all areas, particularly for people and the planet. By holding ourselves and each other to account in a compassionate way, we have built a culture that allows each of us to do our best work.

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