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What makes a high-performance team? Data, a passion for STEM and… cake

by AprilSix Proof

Earlier this week at the Royal Institution, ex Royal Navy chief of staff Dan Stembridge, Olympic gold medalist Anna Watkins MBE, Aston Martin’s Marek Reichman and Schroders’ high-performance vehicle engineer Andrew Bailey were chaired by the Economist’s Kenn Cukier in a debate discussing what elements make the highest-performing teams. As part of a brilliant series supported by intelligence specialists QuantumBlack, it was no wonder then that the use of data in performance was the main focus of the event.

For the panel, best performance may be the one to win the race, the ones that sell the most cars… for our team, it is expressed by the results we obtain for our clients. We regularly generate national coverage and get our client messages on the radar of numerous high-profile trade journalists, covering areas ranging from fundamental physics to aquaculture. The majority of our clients are themselves the highest-performing in their industries. We were last year’s winner of the CIPR Excellence Award in STEM (and 2016 finalists) while we are currently in the running for the B2B Marketing Awards PR Agency of the Year. Our data then speaks for itself – AprilSix Proof is undeniably a high-performing team.

But what elements make up a brilliant team? Anna Watkins told us about the secrets behind her Olympic-winning double sculls team. Anna is a mathematician by background and a self-confessed ‘geek’ – concentrating on the data, she measures her team’s performance based on factors such as strokes per minute and boat length distance, while team mate Katherine Grainger often focuses on the drive, imagining themselves at the finishing line and psyching them up to get there. Marek Reichman spoke of his ultimate team – the elements of design and engineering are both equally integral to designing the perfect Aston Martin. Dan Stempbridge bought these examples to life with a simple story: a man is sweeping the floor at NASA; when asked what he is doing he replies, “I’m putting a man on the Moon!” The concept the panelists all agreed on is that it is the sum of the various roles, experiences, and strengths of the individuals aligning under a common goal that will ensure your team is the best.

Our team reflects this concept – we are made up of ex-scientists, ex-journos, and PR-qualified professionals. Among us, we have a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and we sit on the boards of Stempra and CIPR. We have a current nominee for a PCR PR Powerhouse Award. Between us we are specialists in communicating topics as diverse as cyber security, evolutionary biology and artificial intelligence. Becoming part of the April Six family means we also have integrated marketing capabilities. But it’s not just our professional calibre – at the event, the panelists discussed how underlying your team’s individual strengths is the culture they operate in and their personal passions.

In that re-frame, our team includes a drummer, a quilter, two boxers, a certified Tudor embroiderer, a budding crime novelist and a vegan. And a passion every single one of us shares across the team… cake! Alongside our passion for STEM, it’s probably the biggest thread binding us all together. Alongside our media campaigns we run the Office Bake Off – baking, eating and socialising around cake. To that end, we’re taking part in the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning later this month.

Whether you want a chat with a high-performing team, or just fancy a slice of cake, get in touch at or tweet me @TalkNeekyToMe.