Interview with Liz Engelsen

Interview: Liz Engelsen
New Yorker living in Edinburgh, Liz is married to a Scotsman, and now has one chatty baby boy. She is generally on the go, obsessing about brands and new ideas, and soaking up the local culture, food, and design.  
Past lives have seen Liz in New York, Amsterdam, London (twice), working with big global brands to transform their businesses. Most recently Executive Director, Head of Strategy & Consulting at Interbrand in New York and London and now happily independent. A strategist by trade but a closet creative, Liz  believes strongly that bringing employees together to collaborate through change produces the brighest ideas and most success. The proof comes from her work with Wrigley on their global vision & purpose, Starbuck's first innovation process, British Airway's award-winning US positioning, and much more.
We caught up with Liz ahead of her appearance at Industry Insights: Employer Brands on 31 August, hosted by Denholm. 
What do you enjoy most in creating a brand strategy?
Uncovering what I call the 'hidden gems'. These are the qualities & traits that make a company special & different, things that only they can claim & own. 
Can you describe the process of developing a fresh brand strategy to transform an already established business?
The process is very interactive and collaborative, talking to people in the business, understanding their perspective, creating ideas together, and developing step by step plans for change. 
Beyond the internal view, the process also looks at competitors, customers, trends, and inspirational examples of change. This is what I did with Wrigley globally in creating their new vision & purpose to help motivate their staff after the merger with Mars. 
Are there any personality traits that have helped you in your career?
This used to drive my siblings crazy, but I'm very curious & inquisitive, which has turned out to be extremely helpful. I enjoy chatting to people to find out who, what, why, when, where. I guess you could say I collect stories. I probably have one question too many. Equally I find searching online and diving into research interesting, especially when the goal is to uncover those hidden gems. 
Where are your favourite places in Edinburgh? 
I love the cafe culture in Edinburgh and there are so many lovely gems sprinkled across the city. A new favourite is the lobby of Eden Locke boutique hotel on George St. The minimalist Scandinavian vibe is a very calming escape from the crowds on Princes St.  Other favourites are Smith & Gertrude in Stockbridge for a glass of wine, Hotel Chocolat for a chocolate fix, a stroll through the Botanics or along the Water of Leith for a touch of nature, and the galleries at Edinburgh Palette are a hidden gem in the city. 
How does Edinburgh life compare to that of the Big Apple?
For me, it's all about the neighbourhood and surrounding yourself with things that instantly make a new city feel like home. In NYC, I lived in Chelsea which is creative, full of art galleries, cafes, and shops but mainly it is a residential neighbourhood. When we moved to Edinburgh a few years ago, we fell in love with Stockbridge, and while it is completely different, it has a similar creative vibe. However, the biggest change from my NYC life is being a new mum. 

Liz on Linkedin

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