Business is good. We’re transforming and repositioning ourselves for growth. From this heartland of the traditional print audience we can see ways to expand business in e-commerce, e-learning, video, and experiential-led events.
So that’s a real focus this year. We’ve acquired UKCE, a cycling live events business and developed some strategic partnerships, such as Marie Claire and Ocado. And we’re getting growth in some of our print markets, particularly those serving older upmarket audiences.
What’s been your one highlight of the past year?
I’m not sure there is just one. But the thing I’ve been really encouraged by since I’ve been here is the team’s support of change. In every conversation, whether it’s a new joiners’ breakfast, a one-to-one, or a formal presentation, there are people who have got great ideas.
They’re coming forward with ways of starting to grow the business. I think that’s been the highlight. At the end of the day, business success is down to the quality of the people you have in it.
What’s the one thing that keeps you awake at night?
Recently it’s the dismal run of West Ham performances. That aside, I don’t tend to stay awake too much at night.
What’s been the biggest surprise of the past year?
Again, it’s that pretty much everyone I come across has got an idea. Not just that, but they’re brave enough to tell you them and want to get on with them. Sometimes people think: "Well, I won’t say anything, I’ll keep my head below the parapet."
Actually what I’ve been really surprised by is how very open people have been in saying: "Hey, I’ve just had this idea. I think we should do it." That’s very encouraging.
What job would you be doing if it wasn’t this?
I’ve always thought that one day I’d end up being a late-night prog-rock DJ on some obscure digital station. What would I play? Well currently, I’m listening to a lot of Marillion. There are two versions of Marillion – with Fish and without. Which one do I favour? Post-Fish.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever had?
A senior person at EMAP years ago told me: "The job is simple. Get the right people into the right jobs and then motivate them and support them. Keep close to them by walking the floors on a regular basis."
What are you doing right after this interview?
I’m going to see Ken Lomas who used to be TVTimes’ ad director and he’s now the driving force behind the charity work TVTimes does with Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.
Tonight I’m at an event to launch a London to Paris cycle ride for the charity. Somehow, I’ve agreed to do it, so I’ve got until September to work out how to ride a bike.
Written by The PPA Festival magazine: Leading the way