Social Engine is an organisational transformation agency founded by Avis Johns and Toby BlumeWe each have over 20 year’s experience of senior roles in the public, commercial and not for profit sectors, in the UK and internationally.

We have been at the forefront of community, organisational and social change and innovation and bring the experience of working across different sectors to benefit the work of Social Engine’s clients. Our work – leading organisational change, strategy development, programme design and evaluation has won us awards and recognition across a range of sectors.

This fresh, no nonsense approach, underpinned by evidence of what works, is behind our aim to create change and to improve practice but to do so in a way that empowers organisations and individuals to create sustainable ways of working.

As a team we bring intellectual rigour and emotional intelligence ensuring that our work is sensitive to your needs and those of your stakeholders.

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Avis Johns, Co-founder

Avis is a senior leader with over 25 years experience across public, voluntary and commercial sectors. Specialising in the application of behavioural insights and social marketing, she has worked in public health, education and community engagement and leads our work in strategic planning and marcomms.

She brings empathy, ambition, creativity and evidence to every project and whether it is asking the hard questions about organisational objectives or drilling down into what makes people tick she brings her passion – and pragmatism, to every project.

Toby Blume, Co-founder

For over 20 years Toby has been designing and delivering new ways to tackle social, economic and environmental challenges in the public and not for profit sectors.

He brings a passion for analysis and figuring out a pragmatic path to improvement. His curiosity and creativity are coupled with a passion for social justice and a love of connecting dots and building networks.

Toby’s broad experience includes supporting the smallest community groups and marginalised groups, through to navigating Government Departments and public bodies, whilst remaining singularly focused on the task at hand.

John Houghton, Senior Associate

John is a hugely experienced consultant in the fields of urban and economic development, public service reform, and programme evaluation.

He uses well-honed skills in research, strategy development and facilitation to help places and organisations improve and develop. He has a deep commitment to helping clients engage and work with otherwise excluded groups.

 Over the years, John’s clients have included government departments, community groups, housing and regeneration bodies, and some of the biggest and smallest charities in the UK.

Kieran Saggar, Research Manager

Kieran is a research manager with a particular interest in the fields of urban and economic development.

Kieran joined Social Engine in 2017, after having worked in a variety of customer-facing roles in the public, private and not for profit sector. Kieran brings knowledge of quantitative research methods, data analysis and report writing, with a methodical approach to problem solving.

With enthusiasm, critical thinking, Kieran confronts social issues using a comparative approach that draws on techniques and solutions from the international stage.

Lucy Newman, Projects Coordinator

Lucy is our a Projects Coordinator, working across a range of Social Engine activities. A creative problem solver, she is focused on ensuring that our clients’ needs are front and centre in all our work.

Lucy has a comprehensive understanding of the higher education sector, having spent a number of years working within the students’ union movement. An anthropologist – she understands what makes people tick and applies this expertise to our behavioural insights work, bringing her research and analysis skills to interrogate evidence and shape interventions and approaches that really resonate.

She brings passion and dedication to each task using her experience to bring an ambitious but practical approach to driving social change.

Marios Petropoulos, Researcher

Marios is Social Engine’s research and projects officer. He has a background in psychology and has worked on research studies looking at the impact of cognitive biases on mental health. With his rigorous, evidence-based approach, he is driven to apply mixed-methods techniques, using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, to design, implement and evaluate social interventions that are citizen-centric.

Drawing on his knowledge of cognitive and social psychology, Marios enjoys the challenge of introducing changes in the social environment to nudge people into making better decisions, particularly in the areas of health, finance and employment.

He approaches each research project with creativity, curiosity and a desire to meet the needs of clients and deliver positive outcomes for people.

Cathy Halstead, Copywriter

Cathy is a senior copywriter who has spent over 20 years working for organisations of all sizes in the commercial and charitable sectors. Her experience spans the whole media landscape, from blogs, tweets and websites to strategic reports, direct mail and email marketing campaigns.

A strong conceptual thinker, Cathy is highly skilled at using words to persuade people to act and to bring about change. Her creativity is balanced by an almost forensic ability to pick out the key points in a complex document and present them in a way that is easy to understand.

Cathy began her writing career at RAPP, one of the UK’s leading direct marketing agencies, where she created campaigns for clients including Cancer Research UK, NSPCC, Oxfam, Toyota, British Gas and Lloyds TSB.

Penny Neu, Communications Specialist

Penny has more than 25 years’ experience in communications for organisations ranging from micro-businesses to the BBC, government departments and multi-national corporations.

Since 2007 she has worked as a freelance consultant, working with public and voluntary sector organisations seeking to improve the effectiveness of their communications.  She has wide ranging experience of devising practical, deliverable communications strategies which are strongly focused on achieving business objectives.

She is also skilled at running communications audits, mapping and developing key stakeholder relationships and mentoring communications teams to help them perform more effectively.

Prof. Peter John, Senior Research Advisor

Peter John is Professor of Public Policy at King’s College London. He is known for his ground-breaking work on the application of randomised controlled trials in public policy. He is the author of several books on behavioural interventions including Nudge, Nudge, Think, Think: Experimenting with Ways to Change Civic Behaviour (Bloomsbury, 2011) and Field Experiments in Political Science .

Peter is a global expert in behavioural insights. And teaches behavioural science in public policy at both under-graduate and post-graduate level.

He has worked closely with a number of local authorities including Lambeth, Essex and Southwark to design, deliver and test service improvements.

Dr Manu Savani, Research Specialist

Manu is an experienced researcher and analyst with a background in public policy. She completed her PhD in political science at University College London, looking at the impact of commitment devices on health behaviour, designing and conducting two randomised controlled trials with mixed methods data gathering and analysis.

Manu was an Economic Adviser at the Department for International Development from 2003-2012 and was responsible for convening the Department’s first behavioural insights conference in 2012.

She teaches Public Policy and Research Methods at UCL School of Public Policy.

26 Howard Walk
London N2 0HB

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