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What does an innovation strategist do all day? Tactical’s Camilla Burchill explains

By Camilla Burchill, Senior Innovation Strategist

May 15, 2024 | 6 min read

In the latest installment of our series demystifying the industry’s many job titles, Camilla Burchill, senior innovation strategist at creative and innovation studio Tactical, explains what her role encompasses.

Camilla Burchill

Camilla Burchill of Tactical

My role at Tactical exists to uncover untapped commercial opportunities for brands within the technology landscape and then help them develop and execute ideas that drive impact in uniquely creative ways.

The Innovation team is helping brands bridge the gap between themselves and their target consumers – using emerging technologies as the key ’vehicle.’ Because Tactical exists at the intersection of social, creative and technology, the ‘vehicles’ I work with include augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, virtual worlds and gaming platforms.

I graduated from Edinburgh with a Master’s in English Literature in 2016 and people think it’s quite an odd jump from that to tech, but there’s a logic to it. When I look back, I realize I was actually preparing for this role all along. For example, my final year’s work dissected the effects of consumerism and brands on identity in post-modern American fiction (including one of my all-time favorites, American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis).

Ultimately, I have always been thinking about the concept of identity and its relation to the consumption of brands and media. It’s all about deep research, formulating a point of view and being obsessed with human psychology.

So, after graduating, I initially began in New York in branding and social media strategy and then headed to Berlin in 2017, where I worked as a creative in a scrappy, high-growth tech startup – which is where it all changed for me and I fell in love with the tech space. After that, I couldn’t go back.

Fast-forward a few years (and a pandemic), I honed my skills as a Next-Gen-focused strategist at the incredible Digi Fairy agency before joining Snapchat, where I worked initially in London and then in Paris. There, I executed AR Strategy for brands on the platform, eventually specializing in the retail, fashion and luxury sectors for brands including Nike, Adidas, JD Sports, Gucci, LVMH, Cartier and Jean Paul Gaultier.

I always say that being a strategist – especially in the world of technology and innovation – is less about a set and structured role and more about your attitude and outlook as a person. You have to be innately curious and analytical, always asking questions about who people are, what they want and why they might want it.

Then there’s technology – it’s the force that moves us forward as a society, so it’s almost impossible not to consider how and why it is and will change our lives.
 That’s the visionary ‘what’s next’ part of it – what might the future look like for human interaction with each other, with brands and new technologies? How are people building their personal identity stories? What do they align with, emotionally and morally and why? I should say that this is a role that, in its nature, is always in flux. It’s based on this eternal progression and momentum of human behavior, interaction and identity.

Day to day, I work closely with our visionary head of innovation, Gaynelle Brautigam, to proactively pitch for new business opportunities, respond to RFPs, take part in discovery calls with prospective clients or run insight sessions about the latest technologies or consumer trends in specific industries. I might be writing articles, holding talks or formulating and hosting workshops to C-level on such things as the uses of generative AI in supercharging creative output in fashion or the future of spatial storytelling in virtual reality. Right now, the innovation team is focusing on aviation and fashion as high-growth areas of development in Europe and the Middle East, working on a lot of projects in beta – so watch this space.

Internally, I collaborate with multiple teams across the business, from design to dev to sales, and it’s always been that way in my role as a strategist from the start of my career. Sometimes, it’s like being a translator of sorts – I have to speak both creative and technical languages and then act as a holistic storyteller who helps to pitch the vision to the client in a way they’ll resonate with. I have to be pretty flexible as clients can often change their demands, or there might be a technical problem or changes in scope or budget. I have to make sure that everyone’s expectations and visions remain aligned and objectives are delivered.

What excites me about creative technology, in general, is that the possibilities are endless, and we don’t really know ’where it’s all going.’ Right now, I’m working to become an expert in all creative technology formats and help Tactical deliver the highest-quality, creative solutions for brands that want to make an impact for their consumers.

And it really is the creative ideation, the presenting and selling-in of our ideas to brands, that’s the most exciting part of my role. I don’t particularly like to work transactionally. I don’t want to just be given a brief, do the work and then give it back to you. I’m very collaborative – I want to build things with people. That’s how I think that you can get clients to buy into your biggest and most ambitious visions: operate as an agile and energetic partner to them and plug in as part of their team.

In this industry and role, the most exciting part is the ’what if’ element. And that when you do things the right way, you can have a great influence on the industry’s direction and consumer impact. In the coming years, I would love to see our Innovation team at Tactical continue to work with ambitious brands who want to take risks and, ultimately, do really cool things. Personally, I want to do work that drives impact in unforgettable and meaningful ways, always remaining on the very cutting edge of technology and creativity as it evolves.

As told to Richard Draycott.

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