Culture drives
competitive advantage

Culture is your biggest growth lever.

Research by Harvard* concluded that culture accounts for 50% of the difference in operating profit between companies. 

And your culture can’t be copied. Others can create similar products and services or hire your people. But no one can replicate the culture you’ve created. This is good news for your competitive advantage.

*The Culture Code, James Haskett, Harvard Business School

“Culture is not an initiative. Culture is the enabler of all initiatives.”

Larry Senn 

Our beliefs

We believe culture is a capability.

There are 3 foundations to this:

A model
to define culture

A process 
to evolve culture

Organizational enablers
to sustain culture

Shaping culture is a  management and leadership skill. It can be coached and embedded in your organization, no different from  other business drivers like strategy, brand building, or innovation. Many organizations, such as SouthWest Airlines, have built their competitive advantage by being culturally distinct which means ensuring a capability around culture is embedded across the business.

While culture is leader led, it is people driven: it is the ultimate responsibility of all. So the capability needs to reach many levels.

Culture defeats tactics, it defeats strategy.

Culture changes everything.” 

Seth Godin

Our approach

All our work is customized. Every client has a specific starting point or immediate challenge and we always start from where you are. 

Most of our work falls into one or more of the following 4 core service offerings:

Culture diagnostic

Leadership team alignement

Culture change accelerator 

Difference Makers

“If you get the culture right, most of the other stuff will just take care of itself.” 

Tony Hsieh

What we’ve done

Be Bold with Clorox

We are so proud of this piece of work. We were invited to build a ‘growth culture’ at Clorox by establishing a focused behavior around boldness. We worked across the 8,000-person global organization on a 2-year project to define and embed this ambitious change. 

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The work was centred around a series of experiential sessions that had people understand what being bold could mean for them in their lives. They then built a series of team commitments on how they would bring boldness to their business. This was supported by a team of Culture Champions, a communication and change program, and a measurement system to quantify the results.

Following the success of the Bold program, we worked with the Marketing team to explore aspects of modern leadership; how could managers do a better job unleashing the potential of their employees? We did this during the pandemic, helping build skills in habit-forming, listening, building empathy and balancing the need for action and autonomy with the principles of psychological safety.

Catalysing Creativity with Unilever UK

This was the game-changer for us. Unilever is one of the largest advertisers in the world, but back in 2000, felt it had lost its creative mojo. We were brought in to instil greater creative confidence in the organization and in how it worked with its roster of agencies.  

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This was also a moment when two Unilever businesses, Lever Brothers and Elida Faberge, were integrating. What was going to be the connecting thread? We designed Catalyst, a program that ran creative skills workshops, artist-in-residence schemes and courses to unleash the creativity of emerging leaders. The program ran for 7 years and was recognised as the most innovative, arts-based program of cultural change within business. It helped adapt and evolve the working environment whilst being the catalyst for a new set of values for the combined business.

Following the success of Catalyst, we’ve gone on to manage a consistent set of culture evolutions within the Unilever organization.

“We were a business that needed to find new possibilities and new ways forward. We found that in Alastair.” Keith Weed, former Unilever CMO


Leadership team alignment. This team had recently been appointed, drawn from both sides of the merger. With two sets of values and ways of working to be aligned, we started with a Barrett Values assessment, created a leadership mandate and a manifesto for the wider function.

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The Barrett Values assessment showed where the commonalities existed across the team both in current and the desired culture in terms of shared values. The leadership mandate was a series of 4 statements that the team agreed and signed up to. They committed to share their progress against these with each other. The manifesto was shaped by this team and then sent out to the wider function, delivering buy-in at all levels.

Difference Makers with Omnicom

The Marketing landscape is rapidly changing, and agencies have to keep pace. Omnicom, the second largest marketing communications holding company in the world, is trying to unleash talent at all levels throughout the company to think bigger and become more proactive in solving complex problems.   

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We worked with the CEO and Senior Leaders of the Diversified Agency Service division (200+ agencies) to launch our Difference Maker program. We designed and delivered a program to identify, coach and mentor junior and mid-level employees on the skills and behaviors of difference making, guiding them into creating and implementing enterprise-level new ideas. Multiple ideas are currently being scaled, adding $100M+ in incremental value to the company. We’re expanding the program significantly in 2024 based on the early success.

Other clients we have helped

Our team

Alastair Creamer

I’ve been immersed in the world of business culture since 1990 when I joined the supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s, in the UK. Up to this point I had run arts organisations. Later I was Dean of Faculty at the London College of Music and Media.

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In 1999 I joined Unilever and created and ran Catalyst, an award-winning program, recognized internally and externally, winning a prestigious Arts & Business Award in 2004. It started as a 1-year integration project, helping create a culture that brought together two sides of the Unilever business in the UK. Catalyst grew to become a cultural change program that lasted 7 years, going beyond the initial merger to look at a central challenge of how to be more creative within a large FMCG environment. Unilever, at the time, was the second largest advertiser in the UK after the Government, the second largest storyteller.

After those 7 years, I saw the opportunity to continue this work for other organizations running my own consultancy. I have since worked with leaders, coaching individuals, taking teams through a process, and whole businesses on a journey of cultural change. This work has taken me across the world and taught me about the need to unlock more creativity within people in their work. 

In 2012, I co-founded Eyes Wide Opened, a coaching program to support people who felt lost or were at a crossroads in their professional lives. Many of us take time to find our groove. Some of us have quarter-life crises, while others reach their 50s with so much more to give. This work has fed into my understanding and experience of what it takes to help people adopt and adapt to change. Lately, we’ve expanded the program to embrace the concept of finding your personal purpose.

I am a creative soul. Having been a classical musician throughout my education, I have since turned my hand to writing, painting, ceramics, carpentry and cooking. In 2023 I published a book of prose-poems about my long-distance relationship with my son, Ollie, who now lives in London. We are very close. My great passion today is my garden and I think of gardening as one of the most creative pursuits I’ve yet spent time doing. I have my wife, Jane, to thank for the introduction.   

Doug Milliken

I co-founded Creamer & Milliken in 2023 because of my belief in the power of culture that resulted from decades of Fortune 500 leadership experience. I’ve seen first-hand that a purposely designed and nurtured culture is the critical, but often under-managed, factor in sustained business performance.

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Prior to co-founding Creamer & Milliken, I spent 35 years leading Marketing and Transformation at the Clorox Company. Most recently I led Digital Transformation, evolving Clorox from a model of mass marketing to one of personalized marketing driven by data and technology. This work generated over $50m in incremental profit from dramatically increasing the return on our marketing spend.

Prior to this, I spend 30 years innovating Clorox’s marketing and demand-creation capabilities. I created the Company’s brand-building process and innovated how we approached insights, strategy, consumer experience, media, marketing communications and innovation itself. I led multiple global teams driving organization-wide change and evolving culture. I was the only employee in Company history to win the CEO Award for Outstanding Leadership twice in a career.

Based on my experience, I was asked to co-lead Clorox’s Enterprise Culture initiative. I led a successful program to transform Clorox to a ‘Growth Culture’, able to act ‘simpler, faster and bolder’ across an 8,000-person global organization. This is where I learned about the power of culture (and where I met Alastair). These experiences led to my decision to re-focus my career around helping others build cultures that drive engagement, commitment and ultimately high performance.

Prior to Clorox I worked in the advertising and marketing research industries. In the early 2000s, I took a sabbatical and was an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at INSEAD Business School in Fontainebleau, France. I received an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. I currently live in Northern California with my wife. Our three kids are all settled in California. I spend my free time learning and playing the piano and guitar, biking and hiking, and rehabbing our property which was burned in the 2017 California wildfires.

Gabriele Amtmann

For over 25 years, I have been navigating, exploring and shaping culture across teams and organizations. 

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After graduating from UC Santa Barbara with a BA in Political Science, International Relations, I went on to get an MBA from Thunderbird, School of Global Management. With my sights set on international travel, I moved to France and spent the next several years leading multinational teams evaluating financial practices around the world. Sun and family ultimately drew me back to California, where I spent the next 20 years at Clorox driving financial growth, building familiar brands like Clorox, Kingsford, Hidden Valley Ranch and Glad, and leading transformational culture initiatives. My passion is bringing about positive cultural transformation – helping individuals and organizations create a successful and collaborative culture together.

Charlotte Guibordeau

I am a creative explorer, working in the worlds of design, marketing and social media.

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I love meeting new people and helping them show the best version of themselves.

 I grew up in the Pacific islands, studied in France, work in London and live in Ibiza. I am passionate about people and their cultures whether it may be for companies or for countries. Seeing how people work together towards a bigger purpose is what inspires my design and marketing mindset.

 As I do with my travels, I like to keep things organised and structured so that you can enjoy the beauty of the moment. I take my computer to places that inspire me, creating visuals and sharing creative ideas, and come back to London from time to time to make sure I don’t lose touch with the core team.

Todd Harrington

As an Associate partner based in the US , I lead Creamer & Milliken’s new business development and client relations initiatives.

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I also bring over 25 years of leadership experience as a creative marketer to C&M, having worked across a broad range of marketing organizations, from early stage startups to large advertising agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi, McCann and Y&R. I have a successful track record for delivering innovative, long-term solutions to an extensive list of Fortune 500 clients. Being a seasoned storyteller, I am a true believer that creativity is an essential part of every person’s life, which has led to my hosting 2 podcasts currently, “ The Gray Matters” and “Medicine in America”. When time allows, I turn my storytelling to writing children’s books, having penned and published two books: “ What Are Trees For?” and “My Friend the Moon.

Sacha Wells

At heart I’m a bit of a contradiction, a creative and an organiser and have been in all its many shapes and forms for 30 years.

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I’m passionate about creativity and new ideas, and am experienced in delivering the structure and logistics to turn them into reality. My career as an Executive and Private PA has allowed me to experience a wide and interesting variety of companies and private individuals: from the BBC through to change culture, oil and gas companies, finance, a digital brand agency, an artist and a screenwriter. When I’m not keeping the team in check I’m inspired by the theatre, photography and typography as I passionately believe creativity should always be at the heart of everything we do.

Our conversations

Get in touch