Five Minutes With: Kate Bohn & Shân Millie, Bright Blue Hare
Meet Shân Millie and Kate Bohn - the co-founders of Bright Blue Hare - an agency that offers practical transformation support for intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs in the fintech and insurtech space. We caught up with them to find out what drives them and what elements they will embrace in the year ahead.
Q: Who was your childhood hero and why?
Kate: Piglet – Winnie the Pooh’s closest friend – the original green jumper-wearing version. Although he is a "very small animal" of a generally timid disposition, he tries to be brave and on occasion conquers his fears. Here’s to us all doing that as children and grown-ups.
Shân: Her name was Emma and she was a hockey ace in the fifth form when I was a first-year (so 11 years old). In a weird twist of fate, through marriage we were related at one point, many years later.
Q: What's the best piece of advice you ever received?
Kate: “If you need to ask the question, you already know the answer.”
Shân: “To make change happen, you have to start where people are at.”
Q: What was the last book you read – and how long ago did you read it?
Kate: The Last Lecture – Lessons in Living by Randy Pausch, who was a Computer Science professor at Carnegie Mellor. He wrote the book following the extraordinary response to his ‘last lecture’ – given to his students in the final weeks before his death from pancreatic cancer. The title of the event was “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” and he wrote the book to capture the thoughts he offered on the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others and seizing every moment.
Shân: I just finished The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler: Leading Millions into the Abyss by Laurence Rees. To understand what makes Leadership work, you have to look at Fellowship, and how our species makes choices – for good and ill – about those we choose to trust and believe in.
Q: Name one piece of technology you couldn’t live without and tell us why (excluding your mobile phone)
Kate: The internet. While the downsides have been well documented, the ability to remain connected with friends and family around the globe is an extraordinary privilege. The connection is either real-time, or nearly so, and there is no commitment to those awful blue airmail letters of old.
Shân: The original paradigm-busting technology: the pen and paper. And Nurofen, a most brilliant example of pharmatech.
Q: Who do you look up to in terms of leadership and mentorship?
Kate: Every person who has pushed boundaries and continues to manifest their inner self in spite of their loneliness in the execution of pushing those boundaries – such as Stacey Cunningham, Katherine Graham, Arabella Mansfield, Junki Tabei and Vigis Finnbogadottir. These are a few examples of people that have offered an alternative view on how life might be lived and opened the door to those that followed in their wake.
Shân: It’s a cast of thousands on both counts so the best thing to do is spotlight an example each: Ben Smyth and Chris Frogner are building a new kind of FinTech called Arma Karma, and walking their values not just talking about them. This is not the easy road to growth, but they’re taking it nonetheless. On the mentoring aspect, just one example of the generous and patient consumer-focused activists helping me to really see FinTech in a different light is Lois Ratcliffe of Inclusion Scotland.
Q: Which activity are you most looking forward to doing when the pandemic is over?
Kate: Watching epic films on the big screen at the Cinema with an extra-large bucket of sweet and salty popcorn.
Shân: Sharing Christmas with our mum and close family, including our siblings (and their families) living in the US and Canada.
Q: Is there a personal achievement from the past 12 months of which you are particularly proud?
Kate: I have had the privilege of sharing my personal thoughts on and motivations for recognising individual value with several media avenues. I never imagined that would be an opportunity and I have been humbled by the responses those engagements have brought in return.
Shân: It was definitely a team effort but I know I played a vital part in writing and publishing Open Finance: The Future of Insurance Innovation? with TechNation in July. We aimed to demystify what can be a complex area and encourage new and established firms to get on the front foot with something I think is an inevitable, imminent, and near-term disruptor.
Q: What inspires you in fintech today?
Kate: The extraordinary and ordinary people in the industry working to ensure the impact and capability delivered today makes a material and positive difference to the life of us all, rather than just an academically successful and financially-astute few, both now and into the future. This knowledge drives me forward and keeps me asking the (sometimes difficult) ‘what if’ questions in creating ever simpler and more inclusive outcomes.
Shân: FinTech today has to face the fact that many fellow citizens feel excluded, exploited, and threatened by the methods and outcomes of how Data, AI, and other technologies are used. What inspires me is the opening up of these debates within the FinTech community, and the emergence of new, socially-positive firms.
Main image credit: Shân Millie (left) and Kate Bohn (right) on stage at FinTech & InsurTech Live in 2021.