Building for the Future: My Q&A with John Bianchini, CEO, Hatch

On March 6, at PDAC 2016, Hatch launched a new corporate positioning and identity—a huge move for a multidisciplinary professional services firm with engineering initiatives in over 150 countries. Carolyn Ray, Managing Director of Interbrand Canada, sat down with John Bianchini, Chief Executive Officer of Hatch, to discuss why change is necessary now, and how it can be implemented throughout a global organization.
CR: Why is Hatch changing now?

JB: We are at an inflection point in our business. The causes started back in 2008 and 2009, and today our clients continue to deal with unstable markets, poor cash liquidity and other economic factors that are basically beyond their control. Many of our clients, private and public, are burdened with unprecedented debt. We also have new challenges being placed on us by society: climate change, carbon emissions and the availability of food, clean water and electricity for all the world’s people. All of these issues are urgent and must be addressed. So as an organization, we must change to better assist our clients and the communities in which we serve. We embrace the idea of change wholeheartedly and passionately.

CR: Is change daunting to your organization?

JB: The beautiful thing about these inflection points is that every time we’ve faced one in our history, we’ve come out stronger and better than our competition. We changed. We adapted. We excelled as a result. This time the opportunity is clear: to bring better ideas to our clients.

I characterize this phase of Hatch as a time of optimism and confidence, because this is when we really can help our clients not just to improve their businesses, but to make lives better. With our capabilities and experience, we can solve problems together that create positive change—change that makes our company strong, but more importantly makes the world better.

CR: We’ve worked with many people in the engineering and industrial sectors, and not all of them are comfortable with the word brand. How did your people feel about rebranding?

JB: Well, for such creative people, engineers can be very particular people. So for some, the idea of brand felt removed from the organization itself. So we decided to de-emphasize the word brand. Instead of saying “This is our new brand,” we say, “This is the new Hatch.” We want to keep it that simple.

CR: Tell me about some of the specifics of this change?

JB: It’s about reiterating our commitment to our clients. Thinking about their short- and long-term success and sustainability first, before our own, as we always have. We engaged Interbrand to speak to our clients to confirm the behaviors we’d need to adopt. We wish to remain completely relevant to their changing needs, particularly in this new environment. For instance, going to them with new ideas more often. Creating more opportunities for them, because we’re their partners. It also means meeting them where they are—physically going out to the sites more often. It means reminding them that we’re here to take on their toughest challenges. Anyone can do the easy stuff. We want the complex challenges. We want to transform our clients’ businesses, and the world. Nothing less.

CR: Is this about harnessing new technologies?

JB: Technology is always part of it, but real change is the result of new thinking, new actions. It’s about understanding how our clients feel about working with us. We have to continue to talk to top management and advise them with sound technical advice and solid business thinking. We have to remind ourselves that we aren’t just designers and managers. We’re true advocates for our clients and savvy business advisors. We’re entrepreneurs with a technical soul. We have to always be thinking, “How can we help our clients improve their balance sheets today?”

CR: Does change include how you attract new people to your organization?

JB: Definitely. We have to continue to celebrate our experienced staff, but we are also seeking out and nurturing the finest young minds in the world. We are diversifying in gender, culture, language and capabilities. We want to solve the fact that our industry does not have enough female engineers, technologists, and business advisors. We need the face of Hatch to reflect the face of our clients and the communities we operate in. These are our values, and we know that young people today choose to work with organizations that embrace the same values they do.

CR: How are you spreading change throughout your organization?

JB: First of all, everyone at Hatch is a brand ambassador. We have engaged all of our partners in the company, globally, to understand the reasons for change and to become our regional advocates for change. We have engaged many of our young professionals in the organization to help us with this transition— they believe in our new direction and see many opportunities for career growth. It’s very inspiring to see all of these brilliant people embracing and sharing a vision and purpose that can quite literally change the world.

CR: Now that the re-launch is behind you, how do you keep the momentum up on the pace of change?

JB: One thing we’ve learned along the way is that our launch will never really end. We have to continue ensuring our people have the new tools they need to deliver on our promise to clients, every day.

We are also aligning all of our business processes with our new promise. We’re in the midst of helping our colleagues understand how we need to respond to our clients’ needs. Our website and digital presence are being revamped completely. Our customer-facing managers have all been trained to use the new Hatch story to reshape their clients’ experience.

CR: What does success ultimately look like?

JB: Success is doing what we’ve always done—put clients first—in new, more efficient ways. Ultimately we want to create an even better experience for our clients and our people. Fittingly, our new Hatch identity signals change in a very dramatic way, so no one misses the point! It is the basis of this new experience, and that, I believe, is the essence of a brand. It always comes down to the experience. How do clients and colleagues feel about working with Hatch, deep inside? That’s how we measure success.

Originally published on in 2016

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