Laka appoints Kelly Barnes as CMO to oversee diversity programme

Laka has promoted the current VP of marketing Kelly Barnes to the newly created role of CMO.

In addition to driving the next phase of the company’s growth, both in the UK and internationally, Barnes will oversee the creation and implementation of Laka’s own business diversity plan as well as managing its new partnership with The Change Foundation charity and its Street Elite initiative.

Barnes’ appointment is the first ‘C’ level addition to Laka’s original founding team of Tobias Taupitz, Ben Allen and Jens Harwig, and she will be taking on a broad remit. Alongside its B2C product, the company is now seeing accelerated growth in the commercial and B2B cycle insurance market, with various initiatives, including a recently launched bike shop membership programme. Her role will also encompass Laka’s expansion into new international markets, as well as helping to prepare Laka for series ‘A’ funding and beyond.

The Street Elite initiative is a training for work programme for young people aged 18-25 impacted by crime, violence, and inequality, providing them with opportunities for work. The programme uses sport and mentoring to support these young people as they aim to enter employment, education, or training. For the first phase of its association with the Street Elite initiative, Laka will work with the organisation to seek out and introduce new and diverse talent to the company, aiming to work from the ground up.

Laka will welcome its first work placement cohort in 2021 and provide young, marginalised adults with real-life experience of insurtech, entrepreneurship and marketing. In addition, the company’s management team will undertake mentoring duties (Street Elite Entrepreneurial Fund), via personal sessions with young people, with the aim of inspiring them and giving them enough confidence to start out on their own commercial journeys.

In 2022, building on its experience via The Street Elite initiative, Laka will also be launching its own, multi-tier programme for workplace inclusion and diversity.

“Kelly is instrumental to our success story, leading on marketing and partnerships,” said Tobias Taupitz, CEO of Laka. “We are not just promoting an experienced marketeer, but also a strong advocate of diversity and sustainability – something we all at Laka want to continuously improve – and that starts with our first business diversity initiative. We are super impressed by the work The Change Foundation is doing and we’re proud to play our part.”

Henry Glynn of the Change Foundation added: “The Change Foundation is thrilled to be partnering with Laka on our award-winning Street Elite programme. The opportunities that Laka are providing will help us to ensure that we continue to change the lives of young people who’ve been impacted by crime, violence or inequality.”

Laka will also be committing further investment into its brand ambassador programme that currently includes Paralympian Claire Cashmore and grassroots cycling movement Tekkerz. The additional investment will be directed at providing those from underrepresented communities with a platform in the industry.

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