A Wednesday in the life of… a Chief Operating Officer

By September 15, 2021 News

As one of Medialab’s founding members, Ben has helped Medialab to grow as a Data Marketing Partnership over the last 16 years. As COO, his role involves wearing a few hats such as being responsible for areas including HR, client and supplier commercial contracts and data protection and information security.

6am

Someone once said getting up in the morning is like a pig’s tail; it’s twirly. I agree, and rarely leap out of bed. The alarm stirs me into some kind of action unless of course, one of my children does it first. Even during lockdown with no commute, I’ve been getting up early to make them breakfast and help get them ready for school.

8.15am

Switch on my laptop, get organised for the day and clear out some emails before our daily Board Call at 8.45am. We started doing these the day after the first lockdown as, at that point, with all the uncertainty and change that Covid bought with it, we needed to be communicating every morning. They’ve become invaluable in enabling us to catch up on any major issues, be it clients, new business, HR or longer-term strategies. It also allows us to take the mickey out of Steve Parker’s hair each morning.

9.30am

I have a check in with our talented HR team which is always productive. Recruitment is high on the agenda as we continually look to invest in new talent (14 joiners in August alone!) but we also review our plan for our formal ‘return to the office’ for the end of September. While the office has been available to use since April, it’s been on a voluntary basis. Encouragingly, many have but soon, we’ll be officially implementing our long-term approach to work which will be split between home and office.

10.30am

Another part of my role is to oversee our IT and Information Security projects, with which I am hugely supported by my colleague, Tim Ford. Today we have a monthly meet with our IT support company, Conosco as we’re undergoing a significant cloud migration project to enhance security and flexibility when working remotely. I make a joke about viruses. No-one laughs.

11am

Time to get on with some ‘work’. Thanks to the brilliance of the team, we recently won another new client which always means there’s a contract to onboard. Therefore, I make a cup of tea and bury my head in that. There also happens to be a Test match on, so I have Jonathan Agnew’s mellifluous tones quietly in the background to see me through. England not faring so well however…

Lunch

Depending on time, this can be pot luck (or sometimes a Pot Noodle). Today, encouraged/instructed by my wife, I take the dog for a walk which always does me good to get out. I usually listen to a Desert Island Disc podcast or a Pick of the Pops one, where Radio 2 choose to play a sample of the charts on this day from yesteryear. FYI, the charts this week in 1991 weren’t up to much. 2 Unlimited anyone?

2.30pm

I catch up with Marcus, my co-founder and CEO, which we do weekly. We usually chat about longer-term projects. Despite having worked together for over 20 years, we still check in regularly and I always value his input on any projects or challenges I’m facing. Annoyingly, he’s usually right about most things. At the time of writing, Spurs are also top of the league which is also annoying so I politely humour him about that. Won’t last though.

4pm

Each week, we have an all company ‘MediaTED’ where someone shares something of interest; a case study, a new innovative supplier, a campaign review, staff announcements. Today I am presenting a review of Medialab’s financial performance which we share with the team each month. This covers how we stack up against budget, projections for the rest of the year and notable performances. I then unveil the three charities being lobbied for this month’s ‘Grab a Grand’. This is an initiative where people nominate a charity that is close to them and do a mini-pitch to state why they are worthy recipients of that month’s £1,000 which the company donates. The rest of the team then vote for the winner. We’ve had some really heartfelt recommendations from people who have a direct connection with the cause they are championing – very inspiring!

Evening

I aim to finish in time to put my youngest children to bed. This involves either reading to them or being persuaded to do a Star Wars quiz, courtesy of Alexa. I usually lose. However, tonight, my 6 year old has football training so I take him to that which, during summer, is pleasant. Less so in February. My wife also has a busy life and so getting some time together in the evening over dinner is always the highlight of my day. Usually some TV to switch off – tonight, I’ll catch up on that Test Match.

What would I do if I wasn’t working at Medialab?

In my dreams, playing a 1-2 with Jordan Henderson before scoring at the Kop end for Liverpool.
In reality, writing articles for a newspaper/magazine about somebody else doing just that.