40 The Interchange
Gabrielle Harris, 39
- Head Office
- Year founded
Consulting and strategy
After several years in drab and beige consulting suites, Gabrielle Harris spotted a new reality: a virtual one.
Now the head of The Interchange, a technology-based consultancy that produces digital business solutions including apps, consulting, film and animation and more, Harris says the take-up of VR among businesses is a harbinger of the future. She says her business is an answer to the mundane offices of large, corporate consultancy firms that aren’t able to keep up with the rapid pace of tech.
“For one client, we created and loaded true-to-life health and safety scenarios into virtual reality goggles. Program participants watch and, as the scenes unfold, they can make decisions and change the outcomes of the scenario ‘choose your own adventure’ style,” she says.
“Rather than using off-the-shelf products or regurgitating processes that may have worked for other organisations, we immerse ourselves in clients’ organisations to deeply understand their culture.”
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With that understanding, she says, the business creates “world-first solutions for change”.
The Interchange has grown its revenue by 83% over the past three years, securing it the 40th place on this year’s Smart50 list.
With an ambitious vision, it’s no wonder that Harris has found it difficult to attract the talented staff she needs. And managing them is another challenge in and of itself, she says.
“I have discovered that while I achieve outstanding culture change results for my clients, it can be more difficult in my own business,” she says.
In one instance, an employee was becoming aggressive when his views were challenged, which contributed to a more strained workplace atmosphere. Letting him go was the answer, but Harris learned a valuable lesson:
“As a culture change consultant, I need the right culture in my own business. I had to be accountable for my poor recruitment choice,” she says.
But the company continues to thrive, with clients including Metro Trains and 7-Eleven. With a bright future ahead, Harris says the business is on the right path and takes an optimistic view of the opportunities technology will enable businesses – and she encourages others to join her for the ride.
“In a time where the world is begging for entrepreneurial thinking, there has never been a better time to take the leap,” she says.