james swope


What’s your role at Creative HQ?

My official title is Innovation Consultant and Programme Manager.  My cheesy description of my role is being a ‘James of All Trades’.  One of the great things about Creative HQ is the possibility of taking my expertise into very different projects and environments. I started with community engagement at 1st Assembly our hardware focused co-working space. From there I worked on multiple short term design sprints with varying government bodies.  My last role was being a Programme Manager for the Lightning Lab Electric Accelerator, and finally I am in the middle of prepping for the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator.

You love bringing people together. How do you engage and motivate people, and build a strong inclusive team culture in programme cohort?

I do love bringing people together! Engagement, in my experience, is best done by bringing three things to the table; full authenticity in whatever interaction, my full presence and attention, and an ability to listen. In an accelerator things become very fast paced – there is no working around it. It takes self-awareness and resilience to engage with people in an authentic way in this type of environment and to still ensure people are feeling heard.

My way of motivating a group of people is leading by example. When I am fully present in a room and I am excited to be there, most times the energy is infectious because everyone involved can see how genuine that excitement is. When I listen to someone with my full attention, they become motivated to give me theirs, events I refer them to, or people I introduce them to, their full attention in the future.

To build that strong inclusive culture it takes the majority, ideally everyone in a cohort to take on authentic participation in whatever we are doing. From doing a ridiculous ice breaker to having a conversation about a team member leaving the team for whatever reason, if everyone involved brings their genuine self into the room the whole cohort will benefit from it.

KFA 2.0 is your second programme as programme manager, what are you looking forward to most with this programme? What learning will you take from your Lightning Lab Electric (LLE) experience and utilise to make KFA 2.0 super slick? 

I am looking forward to two things that are equally exciting to me. The organisation team that Laura Reitel (our Programme Director) and myself put together is awesome and I cannot wait to work together as a group.  The second thing I am looking forward to is boot camp. The first week in the programme is an opportunity to get to know everyone and to set expectations for the whole programme. What I am taking from LLE into this programme is the understanding that this week has a huge impact on how the rest of the accelerator proceeds, and we are preparing as best we can to make this boot camp the best one ever.


What would the Creative HQ team say your superpower is?

If the team had a say… I’m guessing they would say my super power is the ability to be friends with most people. I’ll translate that into a shapeshifting ability.

What was your biggest accomplishment for the month of January?

For work my accomplishment is sussing out the awesome KFA organising team. For my personal life I have been playing a sport every night of the week except Friday, and then some on weekends too: I am feeling active!

Share something that inspires you…

This is hard, I’ll broaden my answer out to people. People inspire me, my family inspires me, my friends inspire me, my colleagues inspire me and strangers inspire me more often than most. People are crazy, it’s inspiring and it’s weird to be human.

Read more about the people making the wheels turn, last month we interviewed Innovation Specialist Ceara. Or stay in the loop with all the latest news from Creative HQ by jumping on our mailing list.

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