Tom Malleschitz: Three's chief digital officer
Tom Malleschitz: Three's chief digital officer
A view from Tom Malleschitz

Marketers get too caught up with creative and awards, says Three's digital chief

Marketers are here to present a product in a way that fulfils the desire of a customer, writes Tom Malleschitz.

Know your numbers

I have learned to know your numbers and to never forget your outcome – I was told this quite early on in my career by Li Ka-shing, the richest man in Hong Kong and chairman of CK Hutchison, Three’s parent.

The danger marketers run into is getting too caught up with creative and awards, and forgetting why we are here – to present a product in a way that fulfils the desire of a customer. If you focus on that, you automatically create more shareholder value and investment.

Don’t try to do everything on your own

I always want to achieve "mission impossible" and, when I started, I wanted to prove that I could do everything on my own. But when your team gets bigger, you need to inspire them and work with them.

It was a big change from doing it on my own to listening and saying, "If you need help, just ask." You need to set a direction but not tell people what to do or how to get there. Often, they are more of an expert in their area than you are.

If you want to advance in your career, you need to trust and delegate, but don’t tell people what to do.

You have to practise what you preach

Authenticity is one value I strongly admire – that and practising what you preach. This helps a lot because it earns you respect and trust. I am a true believer in open discussion and in listening – working as a team together, we can create something that is much more powerful than doing it on our own.

I have an open door policy and encourage people to pop in and ask any questions. A lot of people used to be quite hesitant about this but now they feel comfortable doing it. I don’t want to be that guy in the corner office who asks his PA to make an appointment.

Don’t forget the fun

Yes, you are chasing numbers and targets but, in review meetings and even in board meetings, I always encourage my team to think about what is the most amazing and fun thing they have heard this month.

We always talk about the negative things such as how to improve and the things we can do better. Of course we need to do that as well but what some people often forget is to also recognise things that worked and great achievements – and appreciate them.

We have a glass-half-empty mentality in this country and I think that’s wrong. We should reflect on the great things and not just focus on how to do them better.

Build a strong team you can trust

My biggest learning has been that you have to trust, engage and build a strong team around you. You need diversity and collaboration in equal measure to do this.

The biggest mistake you can make is to recruit "mini-mes" – I have my strengths and weaknesses, and need someone to compensate for the latter.

You need diversity in skills, in attitude and in capabilities. From a working together point of view, it’s very important to understand the team effort – some individuals might shine but that is nothing without the team effort.

Attitude is more important than skills – skills can be taught and can come with practice and experience. I hire first on attitude, second on skills.

Follow your passion

You shouldn’t hold back or compromise too much due to other beliefs, because then you are not being authentic and you will feel unhappy. You need to find a purpose in your company because you live and learn in a much better way if you follow your passion.

Work for a challenger brand

You have to be smarter and more efficient in how you work. You can’t copy, you have to create and sometimes you also have limited resources, which can be frustrating. However, for the right kind of person, that is the fun part – to take up that challenge.

Of course, if you want to attract talent from the outside, it can sometimes also be harder.

Look for the positive

The European Union blocked Three’s takeover of O2 in May last year. This forced us to rethink our strategy and look at our roots, where we had come from and what we had achieved in the past five years.

It gave us a chance to assess where we were, what we stood for and what we could capture from the past five years to apply to the next five. 

Tom Malleschitz was previously chief marketing officer at Three. This month, he took on the newly created role of chief digital officer.