Partner, People Collective
1. Did you have a favourite teacher at school? Who was that person and what did they teach you?
Mr Rogers – my history teacher in secondary school. He was a great storyteller and he had a real gift for bringing the stories of history to life. He made you want to learn and used stories to teach important lessons. The modules of WWII, Nazi Germany, rise of Hitler, how quickly it all happened – lessons we certainly need to know again today. Everyone loved his class and – even those who were not academic – ended up doing well.
2. What habit or behaviour or belief have you recently acquired? Why is it now in your life?
Manage your energy levels rather than your time. I’ve always been quite rigid in how I manage my time – not being late, giving myself a set amount of time to do a task. It got me results but inevitably caused frustration because I wasn’t always concentrating on what mattered most. Now, I put much more focus on the results that I want, rather than following a rigid plan. It’s allowing me to remove things that aren’t important which I found draining. I try to do the things which help my energy levels – take a break, change posture, do some exercise – rather than let myself get into a slump. Don’t get me wrong I still get annoyed if I haven’t finished everything but now I am much less obsessive it now. If I don’t have the energy, the chances are that the world won’t end if I don’t finish something until the next day.
“Manage your energy levels, rather than your time”
3. If you could write a brief note to your 13 year old self, what advice would you impart in it?
Just concentrate on learning as much as possible. Take advice if offered or actively seek it if it isn’t. You’ve got a lot going on at that age, so take your time and don’t be in a rush to be a grown-up.
4. What are the three books that you would unhesitatingly recommend to others?
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Hugely powerful themes combined with great storytelling. I studied it for GCSE English and growing up in a small rural community in North Wales, it really helped to open my eyes about racism which I hadn’t really been aware of before. The fact that it sits at number one on my list after all these years later is a testament to the impact it had on me.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson
Blunt and hard hitting. It was uncomfortable reading that ‘certainty hampers growth’ and ‘don’t worry about leaving a legacy’ but it really helped to give me some perspective on things that seem so important to me but in the grand scheme really aren’t as significant.
I Think Therefore I Play by Andrea Pirlo
One of my favourite footballers of all time. I enjoyed reading every page of this book. He’s a thinker not only about how football should be played but also how football should be run. Ultimately, he’s a winner but was unwilling to sacrifice his principles to do so.
5. If you wrote a ‘user manual’ for how people should interact with you, what would be the top three things that would be useful for them to know?
1. I rate being clear and consistent very highly. 2. I like time to process information, so don’t always expect a full response straight away. 3. I appreciate feedback, even if I don’t always ask for it.
6. Have you always had the same political beliefs? If so, why do you think you have held them so long? If not, what event caused you to change your view?
No, not at all. As a younger adult, I focused on policies that would benefit me. As I’ve got older and became a father, that view has softened. Politics needs to be there to give people a fair chance in life, and actively help those who come from less privileged backgrounds. Society is not fair or equal for a lot of people, that needs to change.
7. What’s one misconception people generally have about you?
That I’m very serious. I’ve had feedback multiple times; people think I look really pissed off. Don’t get me wrong – I can be – but when I’m concentrating I tend frown (a lot) and can make me look very serious.
“My facial expressions often don’t reflect how I’m feeling or the mood I’m in”
8. In the last few days, what news has given you most cause for alarm? In the last few days, what news has given you most cause for celebration?
Alarm – the level of violence and division that is being played out on the news. This feels like the most divided we have been during my lifetime. Celebration – securing a new client. We’re (hopefully) starting to see some momentum return to the market. It’s tough out there for business and job seekers alike so fingers crossed for things to improve, quickly.
9. What app or tech product have you most recently fallen in love with?
Thinky – it’s a really simple mood tracker. Post 1-2 sentences about how you’re feeling. It picks up your tone and choice of language and gives you an indicator of of your move over time. It’s great way to get your thoughts and emotions noted down, get it off your chest – great therapy.
10. Cheese or Chocolate? What kind?
It was cheese for a long time. I’ve now converted (under the influence of my better half) to chocolate. Chocolate – Peppermint Aero. 100%
11. If you were a giant mega Monster, what city would you rampage first? Why?
Lisbon – every time I’ve been there I’ve been sick – I literally have been violently sick. Admittedly, the second time was self -inflicted…actually maybe the first time was as well….but I can’t get over the connection between the place and how I felt.
12. If you could invite any 3 people – living or dead – to your final dinner party before the end of the world, who would they be and why?
One of my favourite actors. Funny, intelligent, complex. He’s a must invite for the dinner party at the end of the world – he’d be able to distract me from the impending end, maybe by doing one of his famous medley’s as the Genie from Aladdin, Mrs Doubtfire and Lovelace the penguin from Happy Feet.
I recently watched a documentary about her, and afterward I sat there wondering ‘how did I not know this about her? I mean I knew she was the wife of Barack Obama but she has such a powerful story to tell. There is something so reassuring about listening to her talk. If it is the end of the world, and we’re having a dinner, I think Michelle Obama would somehow make me feel ok about it.
Sir David Attenborough
He’s just so fucking wise! He’s about 200 years old, he’s done so much good in his career and life, I feel he would be able to tell me what would happen next. And he would be great at doing the closing montage for the end of the universe.
13. What decision makes you say, “What was I thinking??” when you look back on your career?
Joining a company for the title and a big salary increase, despite some glaring red flags during the interview process. For example, additional stages added onto the interview process. Asked to do presentation in front of ten of the tech team, during which one of the team said ‘are you going to be much longer’. I found it quite funny at the time, and shrugged it off, but it looking back it was all evidence that they didn’t know what they doing, had people in the room who were wondering why they were there, didn’t know what they were looking for. I took the job and basically knew relatively soon that I knew that this wasn’t an environment I’d ever be successful in.
14. What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
My partner actually said this to me. I was moaning about an old boss, that they weren’t giving me the support that I needed, and then she said ‘have you asked for help?’ and followed up with, ‘have you been specific about what you need?
And I said….’maybe?’!
It was one of those moments when I was furious that she was right. But she was right. And it’s been to my benefit since. So if you need help, ask but be more directive. Don’t assume that they’ll know that you need help or how exactly they can help. You need to be clear.
“It was one of those moments when I was furious that she was right. But she was right”
15. What’s the one bad quality you don’t mind in a colleague? Why?
Rogue behaviour. Sometimes processes and rules are stupid and no longer make sense. They’re there to be exposed but someone needs to be willing to do so.
16. Who is the best co-workers or collaborator you’ve ever worked with? Now is the moment to give them a shout out – who were they and why were they so good?
I can’t keep it to one, so I’d say Lyn Vallet, Lucas Tang and Shane Ahmed equally who I worked with when I was at Deliveroo. They were always there to give advice, call me out if I was chatting nonsense and generally keep me and each other sane during some hectic work times.
17. What changes to our industry would you like to see post-Covid19? What changes do you think we will see?
I would like to see companies and recruiters spend more time upfront defining their hiring plan. We have a tendency as an industry to prioritise pace; whilst pace is important ultimately I’d like to see us shift to quality. Hire slower, but better. What I think will change is more flexibility on where somebody can work. Rigid, chained to the office….we will see this less and less.
18. Who will be the winners & losers in our industry in the post-Covid19 world?
Winners – People/Talent leaders that are resourceful and able to think holistically about how People Teams can contribute to the success of a business. I fear we’re often too caught up in vanity projects and metrics that don’t really matter. Losers – I hope I’m wrong but unfortunately I think, this will be the candidate. There are going to be far less job opportunities and far more competition for work. This will mean candidate experience will suffer.
19. Do you have a secret tip, tool or trick that’s contributed to your success?
No secret, just work on yourself, as well as doing your work. Spend time on the things that give you energy and you’re good at, find ways of reducing the things that drain you.
20. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?
Matt Bradburn. He’s my boss and my colleague, and also my friend.
Thanks to Kristian Bright for taking 20 Questions With the Brainfood Tribune.
Follow Kristian on LinkedIn and contact People Collective for expert support & advice on scaling up your tech hiring