It’s been an eventful time for Clearleft. As well celebrating our fifteenth anniversary, 2020 was the year that saw Clearleft become an employee-owned agency. It’s a year of change, and now we’ve got one more to share with you.

Richard Rutter
Richard Rutter
20th January 2021

Clearleft co-founder Andy Budd is stepping down from his day-to-day role as Chairman at Clearleft. Andy will remain a shareholder and a non-exec board member. The current board remains in place, along with fellow co-founders Richard Rutter and Jeremy Keith.

Andy founded Clearleft with Rich and Jeremy in 2005. His drive and vision helped build and shape Clearleft into the world-renowned design agency it has become. Andy’s influence has enabled us to help hundreds of clients across five continents, including household names we never thought possible back in 2005: Virgin Atlantic, Burberry, Natural History Museum, JP Morgan, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Channel 4, not to mention many local governments and eight different universities.

Andy brought his entrepreneurial spirit to the creation of ground-breaking events, including the first d.Construct conference only three months after Clearleft started up. Three years later he would have the vision and ambition to launch UX London as one of the world’s foremost design conferences, not just once but year after year since. As a serial entrepreneur, Andy was the brains behind Silverback, the usability testing tool, which counted Nasa and the Obama campaigns as its customers.

Right from those initial months Andy imbued Clearleft with a philosophy of improving the practice of design. We’ve since helped over 15,000 designers, including leaders from across the globe through our Leading Design series, which Andy brought to life in 2016.

Over the past two years Andy has been instrumental in establishing a new leadership team, who earlier this year oversaw the sale of Clearleft to its employees thus securing both the company’s future and the values Andy and his co-founders established over the past 15 years. With management having successfully navigated the worst of the Covid crisis, now was an opportune moment for Andy to seek out his next entrepreneurial calling.

The leadership team Andy leaves in place is formed from a highly experienced group of practitioners who know Clearleft inside out. Richard Rutter, as a co-founder, heads the team since taking on the mantle of managing director two years ago. Jessica Jebari, Jon Aizlewood and Andy Thornton were brought onto the board early in 2020 as operations director, design director and strategy director respectively. Between them, they have decades of experience in the industry, including a combined 20 years at Clearleft. The team brings a people-centred approach to management emphasising the company’s values of autonomy and collaboration; a strongly human-centred philosophy of design; and commitment to delivering a world-leading experience for our clients and customers.

Andy will still be an integral part and host of Leading Design Festival this March. Before his departure, he has worked hard to ensure he leaves an events team ready to take the events he’s built to the next level. The expanded team includes Christianne Beck as Head of Events and Rebecca Groves as Programme Manager who will be championing not only the Leading Design conference but turning it into a programme of events to support the design leadership community even further.

Speaking of their co-founder, Richard said “During his tenure at Clearleft, Andy was instrumental in forming and maintaining Clearleft’s world-renowned reputation, followed by the continual development of our portfolio of international events aimed at all levels of the design industry. Andy has helped forge a great path that we will continue to develop and grow. I want to thank Andy for his dedication and drive, and wish him all the best for his future.”

Jeremy remarked “It feels like the end of the first chapter of Clearleft’s story. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Clearleft and for Andy—I just know that he’ll continue to spread the spirit of Clearleft in all his future endeavours. It’s been an honour and a pleasure working with Andy for fifteen years.”