Victoria Ward


Victoria Ward has a degree in Italian and German from Cambridge University where she most enjoyed 20th century art and literature. She became Director of Research and Product Development at LIFFE, then joined NatWest Markets in 1992 to run the futures business and then became Chief Operating Officer for the Capital Markets business. In late 1996, she was invited to take on the new role of Chief Knowledge Officer, reporting to the CEO of NatWest Markets, who was also responsible for examining knowledge management on behalf of the Bank as a whole. This case study has been written up in Liz Orna’s book Practical Information Policies.

She founded sparknow in late 1997 with the rather wild ambition of fostering the human spirit in the workplace and since then has been involved in a wide range of change programmes from individual team building events, to substantial programmes of lessons learned or behaviour repair around, e.g. a technology installation gone awry, oral history work, framing knowledge and learning strategy to support long term organisational goals. In summary, most of the work is about making organisations more effective while paying attention to the human touch which will reconnect individuals with leaders and bind both together in mutual endeavour around the heart values of the team, sector or organisation.

This is our latest attempt to describe sparknow and what it does:

“Sparknow is a knowledge and change consultancy founded ten years ago to bring some warmth back into the workplace and make something of substance happen. It combines narrative enquiry, rigorous analysis and disarming candor, which together help to reveal surprising truths that were almost known but not quite understood. Every sparknow project is different, but they all work through drawing out the experiences of individuals and holding onto the vital texture of these throughout the analytical and reporting process in order to provide the client with networks, perspectives and insights that would be trampled by more conventional consulting approaches. Sparknow is a network of individuals from different disciplines and has worked for clients large and small including the DTI, HM Revenue & Customs, the Islamic Development Bank, the Swiss Agency for Development & Co-oporation. ”

Victoria’s particular interest at present is in the embrace between analysis and narrative, simplicity and complexity and in finding forms which make the most of the the dynamic transition from written to spoken and back again. As part of this interest she is actively exploring the dynamics of groups and teams at work, in part through studying communities of practice, facilitation structures and group analysis.

She has a teenage daughter, a deaf Labrador and tries to swim regularly in the Ladies Pond on Hampstead Heath. This year she made it through the winter. Just.


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