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About Me

I believe that to effect real change, it is essential to get to the core of organisations, to understand them, their people and their ambitions. I help leaders to identify the things that need to change or grow to help them thrive in a complex, multi-connected world. I support organisations to nurture authentic cultures and build brands from the inside out: the answers all lie within, its about giving you a supported space to surface them and helping you see the questions that need to be asked.
Having been on the Exec team for many years, at a number of different organisations, I understand the pressures leaders are under to stretch between visioning the future, strategic planning and operational delivery. Having clarity on your direction, strong foundations through your culture, and creative nimbleness in your delivery is essential.
My senior roles have all involved working with Trustees: being an active member of Boards, running key Board sub-committees, shaping strategy and reporting back on impact. At Bloodwise I worked in partnership with the CEO to improve the organisation's governance - developing a more consistent process and transparency for Trustee recruitment, creating Trustee development sessions to help a diverse Board all feel they can contribute effectively and steering the focus to appropriate, supportive challenge of strategic issues. I have worked with Exec teams to develop and agree three-year strategies, annual plans and operational deliverables – all with clear and measurable targets.  
In my role as Director of Marketing & Innovation at Bloodwise - the UK’s largest blood cancer charity - I helped transform the organisation from an unknown medical research organisation to one that is working in partnership with the wider blood cancer sector, leading on service developments, influencing policy initiatives and playing a credible role as an authentic voice for patients. I worked with talented colleagues to develop a compelling brand platform and, with these foundations in place, led the organisation through a strategic naming review – culminating in changing the organisation’s name. The core work started with digging deep to connect with and articulate an authentic belief the drives the charity – one that comes from its heritage and universalises its cause.
Insight and evidence sit at the heart of my strategic marketing work – from large-scale, multi-layered research to the power of anecdotal comments. Broad-ranging evidence played a key role in my work with Crisis on their brand strategy – bringing external voices in to help them get a better understanding of people’s relationship with their purpose. At Bloodwise, I got Board buy-in to develop an Insight & Analysis team that helped enable the whole organisation move to an insight-led culture and supported innovation. In my role at Neo I drew on digital data, content audits and landscape reviews, and host workshops and stakeholder interviews to help me understand organisation and customer need. I distil all that I have read, heard and learnt into meaningful insights and strategic recommendations to help organisations develop their brand, enhance customer experience and create connections.
Alongside tapping into the digital environment to deepen insight and understanding, I champion digital fluency in organisations and have led on numerous digital product developments - holding the vision whilst working with brilliant designers, producers and developers to pilot minimal viable products, learning-by-doing and iterating quickly in response to user experiences. This work has included personalised cancer information services based on evidenced patient need, a (beta) digital fundraising platform based on the spirit of crowdfunding and an internal-facing digital platform to support greater transparency and open dialogue. I have also worked on more infrastructural change such as the introduction of new CRM and CMS systems and the move to open source technology platforms.  
Increasing brand awareness and customer engagement have been important objectives in my marketing roles. The foundation to this work has been ensuring there is a strong brand positioning in place. This starts with articulating an authentic belief – a common purpose that staff and customers can connect with. Building from this point, I have helped facilitate organisational conversations to agree shared values that guide ways of working and help nurture a common culture. From this platform, compelling communications can begin to be developed – content that all your audiences can truly connect with, find useful and share. I have worked with ambitious sales and fundraising teams to ensure the brand is optimised for income generation and that tactical deliverables such as campaigns, events and social media activities are reaching target audiences, building relationships and increasing income. Planning and creating large-scale advertising campaigns was a key element in my roles at both Cable & Wireless and the Energy Saving Trust – where we saw excellent year on year growth in brand awareness for the consumer facing Energy Efficiency brand.
In all my work helping to develop powerful creative visual and verbal expression has been key. I have worked with in-house designers & copywriters and external agencies. I enjoy the creative process and constantly seek ways to improve outputs through enhancing briefing, ensuring stakeholder involvement and using known innovation tools to support the process. I have coached individuals and teams to help unlock creativity, challenging old ways of working and helping develop more innovative mindsets.
I am passionate about organisations being happy, healthy places to work and in helping them understand that this is a fundamental part of developing and sustaining a successful brand. Helping shape and deliver leadership programmes, with HR, L&D and CEOs, has been a crucial element to the work I have done with culture and has helped create sustainable improvements in performance.


Emma Whelan

Stefan Terry


Emma balances the creativity and positivity you need to plan ahead with the energy and tenacity to see things through. She has the ability to imagine a better future and inspire others to go there with her. In 20 years working in brand development, I have never seen anyone make a more positive or wide-ranging impact on an organisation or brand.

Tim Frost

Rebel Cell

Human. Strategic. Brave.  Emma is constantly looking at the bigger picture, unafraid to try innovative approaches and have difficult conversations to make change happen, always with a deeply human lens. She understands how to build and sustain a great, purposeful led brand. This combination has enabled her to drive truly progressive change. Before one project has finished, she'll be on the lookout for ways to make the brand even better.

It's not easy playing the role of provocateur and guardian of a brand. It involves really tough decisions, conversations, and stakeholder management, and bags of relentless energy.

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