Skip to main content

Meeting People:
Carl Konadu BEM, CEO & Co-founder of 2-3 Degrees

Meeting People

Knowing me, knowing you

Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us about your current role?

My name is Carl Konadu and I’m the CEO and Co-founder of 2-3 Degrees. Me and my friend (and now business partner) Azzees Minott, started 2-3 Degrees eight years ago because of our passion for seeing young people build the personal development skills needed to fulfil their potential.

With a team of 15 people, my role is focused on leading the team and ensuring that we’re amplifying young people’s voices in the sectors where they’re currently unheard, for example the built environment.

So, here’s three facts about me, your job is to guess which one the lie is!

1. I’m a twin

2. I’ve met the late Queen Elizabeth and HM King Charles.

3. I used to play semi-professional football

How did your career path lead you to the industry?

I studied International Relations and Politics and got a First Class Degree (although no one’s ever asked to see it…). I used my degree to work on how sport was used as a tool for development in disadvantaged communities. I undertook projects in Sri Lanka, Uganda, Trinidad & Tobago and a few other countries.

Alongside this I’ve always been passionate about young people. I did a lot of volunteering growing up, including with the Safer London Foundation, the British Youth Council and with the Spirit of 2012 Trust as the Chair of the Youth Panel.

The more I worked with young people, the more I found I was driven to help them change their future by changing their mindsets, so personal development and motivation became a big drive for me.

The ups and downs

What has been the most impactful project you’ve worked on or the project you’re most proud of?

I’ve been blessed to work on some amazing projects since we started 2-3 Degrees and every project is impactful, but if I was forced to choose…

A few years ago, we worked with Grosvenor as part of the changes they were making to Grosvenor Square and South Molten Street. We created a programme called the Mayfair Youth Forum (MYF) which was our first venture into the built environment and gave us the opportunity to give young people from disadvantaged backgrounds a great opportunity to contribute to the changes that were taking place in their local community.

The MYF got the opportunity to build their confidence, self-esteem and leadership skills through the workshops and training delivered. Alongside this, we worked closely with Matt+Fiona (Fabricators) to build temporary benches with the young people that were showcased at the Summer Festival in Grosvenor Square, a youth-led event hosted by the MYF where they invited their family and friends and were able to showcase the great work they had done on the programme.

The programme ended with the young people getting paid work experience with Grosvenor. They had the opportunity to work in the built environment across different departments, learning from the expertise of the Grosvenor team.

One young person set on studying law was so impacted by the programme that they took on an internship with a property company before going on to study Real Estate at university instead!

What’s been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge has been getting over imposter syndrome! There are a lot of insecurities that creep in when you set up your own enterprise, some of which I still face today. Walking into rooms where I’m often the only black person/person of colour, partnering with well-established stakeholders including the Mayor of London, Westminster Property Association, working on one of the largest development sites in Europe and leading a team of 17 people.

Over the years it’s been helpful to read the case studies and the testimonials of the young people’s lives we’ve impacted. It’s always a reminder of why we do what we do and the value that we add.

It was also humbling to be listed in the 2021 New Years Honours list by the Queen and receiving a British Empire Medal for services to disadvantaged young people. That was a good reminder of the importance of what we do.

Trend setter

What are the biggest challenges you feel the sector is facing?

Alongside the housing crisis and more systemic issues, if I was to focus on what’s happening with young people within the built environment, I’d say the biggest challenge is the lack of diversity, especially in the planning and consultation process.

Research says that 89% of 16-18 years olds say they’ve never been asked their opinion on the future of their neighbourhood, even though 82% want to have a say.

We’re passionate about helping developers and communication agencies deliver meaningful and valuable youth engagement that helps improve the way young people interact with the built environment.

Crystal ball gazing

What are your predictions for the built environment sector over the next decade?

A diversified talent pipeline – if we’re intentional about encouraging young people to learn more about the built environment and the plethora of roles and careers that are available, then we’ll have a very different workforce in 10 years’ time!

Cultural highlights

One film/television series, book, podcast/radio show, or song/album you like and why.

One of my favourite albums is ‘Boy in the Corner’ by Dizzee Rascal, it reminds me of the early 90s/2000s, and it takes me back to what it was like listening to CDs repeatedly and watching music videos on the TV!

We’re the Meeting Place of deep knowledge and creative thinking. And we want to hear from you.