A strategy to change the future of Cambridge English

A strategy to change the future of Cambridge English


Cambridge English, part of the University of Cambridge, is an international UK-based leader in language learning and assessment with a strong reputation among global language learners.

We partnered with Cambridge English to shape a new direction

Cambridge English is driven by world-class research and a profound commitment to educational excellence. After a decade of rapid growth, the CEO engaged Nous to assist in developing a new strategy to shake-up traditional forms of content delivery and re-energise the organisation’s mission.

Customer focus and internal capability were key inputs into the strategy

We led a 12-month engagement with the CEO, senior leaders and an internal team to identify a number of future-focused opportunities, collaboratively test and develop their detail, develop a broader organisational strategy and plan for its implementation. This approach was characterised by three key features:

  1. Close engagement and consultation: 
  • Workshops
  • Staff-led work streams
  • Multiple parallel and ongoing communication channels.
  1. Customer focus and market awareness: 
  • An analysis of markets
  • The development of a customer segmentation framework
  • Designing a strategy with the customer at the heart of its structure and content.
  1. An explicit emphasis on building internal capability: 
  • Building the internal team’s capability
  • Gradually transferring project ownership and leadership from Nous to the client.

The strategy energised staff and instigated new projects

The strategy led directly to some quick wins, and initiated an internal project of staff-led transformation projects.

  • The organisation has embarked on a process of longer term implementation and transformation based on seven workstreams and over 50 internal innovation projects, most of which have been delivered within 18 months.
  • The process energised staff and engaged people from across the organisation’s international network, creating multiple programme touchpoints for every person in the organisation.
  • The project also created a greater focus on drawing insights from customer data.

What other organisations can learn

  • Focus on the market and design a strategy with the customer at the heart to drive a more responsive set of products and services.
  • Energise staff by creating multiple meaningful ways to contribute to the organisation’s future.
  • Emphasise internal leadership and capability of strategy projects, to enable those teams to design the change and lead the transformation.