‘Metamorphosis’ of a development guru

2015-08-11 06:00
Innovation and brand development guru, Ingrid Budge, Metamorphosis managing director.

Innovation and brand development guru, Ingrid Budge, Metamorphosis managing director. Photo: supplied

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INNOVATION and brand development guru, Ingrid Budge, who counts big names such as Unilever, Tiger Brands, Adcock Ingram, Nestlé, Barlow World, Mr Price and Nedbank among her clients­, has dealt with products ranging “from cement to soap and everything in between.”

But, she says, she has always been an entrepreneur at heart.

As founder and managing director of Metamorphosis - a Hillcrest-based consultancy that specialises in innovation and brand development, consumer research and training - she traces her business roots back to her childhood on a farm in Newcastle.

Her first foray into the exciting world of entrepreneurship was at the age of six when she saved up to buy her own chickens to start an egg business.

From then on, throughout her schooling and university years, she ran a number of micro enterprises.

On graduating from the then University of Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus with a BSc in chemistry and biochemistry, she was ready to realise her dream of setting up her own skincare company. But, she says, the real world soon intervened and, instead, she joined fast-moving consumer goods giant, Unilever.

She found herself working in their laboratories doing product testing and says she absolutely hated it.

“I worked on washing powder which meant I had to wash clothes every­ day.”

Ultimately, even the more interesting elements of her job – travelling to rural areas and boarding school hostels to try out washing powder in real-life settings – became duller than the whitest of washes.

“I’m a creative person and so I approached the marketing department and told them I needed a job because I couldn’t do another load of washing,” she smiles.

Her timing was perfect and, in 1993, she began an extremely happy seven years in a department that was to completely change her career path.

Budge says Unilever’s marketing department provided a strong foundation. It was a privilege working for a big company with major brands and big budgets as this meant you got to do and learn so much more.

When she took on the position of innovation manager, she began travelling extensively as she researched innovation best practice worldwide.

However, when she returned to mainstream marketing, she decided it was time to take that next step and follow her dream.

With the support of her husband Andrew, she set up her skincare company IMCA in 2000. At the same time, she launched Metamorphosis to help fund the new venture.

Because she works mainly with large corporates, the majority of her trainees are graduates, up to a marketing manager level.

In response, she has structured her 11 courses to be predominantly practical and to provide the templates and tools and on the job application skills necessary for them to implement their knowledge immediately.

“Skills are usually developed through experience that comes with time. Our aim is to shorten that learning curve and get teams functioning at a higher level more quickly.”

Budge is supported by an extensive number of highly skilled experts, all of which have worked internationally.

Despite her own success story, Budge believes that in KwaZulu-Natal, there is a need for a change in mindset when it comes to training in general.

For starters, not enough local companies are training employees and, those that do, often send their staff to Johannesburg because they do not know what is available here. She believes local companies could save a great deal if they trained their employees at home.

Metamophosis is also increasingly training in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Africa.

While she believes that workshop-style courses are still the best when it comes to training, they are not always accessible, especially in Africa, which is why she is developing online training.

Never able to stay in one place for very long, Budge also plans to launch her own blog towards the end of the year.

Skills are usually developed through experience that comes with time. Our aim is to shorten that learning curve and get teams functioning at a higher level more quickly

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