My Working Day – Dr Murray Ellender – CEO and GP at eConsult

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team of individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine? Business Leader spoke to Dr Murray Ellender – CEO and GP at eConsult, about his working day.

What time do you usually wake up?

I’m an early bird. I wake up at 6.30am each day, either by my alarm or by my kids – whichever gets there first!

What do you typically have for breakfast? 

I’m pretty non-conventional when it comes to breakfast. Three cups of coffee and a large bowl of emails typically keeps me going until lunchtime. My wife also works as a GP, so our mornings are very busy, it’s all about getting the kids fed and off to school.

What’s the rest of your morning routine before you start work? 

Every morning the juggling act between work and family life begins. I have four children – two girls and two boys, which certainly makes things busy to say the least. I normally try to check through any emails that have come in overnight in between dad duties. Family is very important to me and I love spending as much time with my kids as I can, so I embrace  every moment of the morning madness.

First thing you do at the start of a  workday? 

My working day starts differently and it all depends on whether I’m in general practice at The Hurley Group or working from the eConsult London office. If I’m on call, it’s all hands-on deck to check staffing levels, if I am with the eConsult team at our Canary Wharf offices, it will likely be a busy morning of emails and meetings. I love the diversity that comes from both roles, so it’s crucial that I take the time to plan my day accordingly, Pauline, my Executive Assistant does most of this hard work for me, so I am very grateful!

How do you prioritise your work? 

It may sound obvious, but I think that an organised diary is the key to prioritising work. I always make sure to protect chunks of time throughout my week where I can get my head down and crack on with the tasks that always seems to fall to the bottom of the list. This way, no one can schedule a meeting over that allocated time – it’s a life saver, trust me!

Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time? 

I do plan meetings as it’s so important to brainstorm, throw opinions around and move things forward. I think this is something that has become a little lost over the pandemic. However, discipline with meetings is fundamental. They should always have an agenda, only the most essential people in the room and should be scheduled for a realistic time frame. They should be valuable, and never just for the sake of having a meeting – this is the standard I set throughout eConsult.

Do you have a working lunch or is it good to take a break? 

I know how good it is to take a break over lunchtime if you can, it just isn’t very realistic for me. I always encourage others to take a break at work, but I’m not very good at listening to my own advice here! Lunchtime is great to talk to  people in the office, so when I can, I meet up with one of my colleagues and we walk to grab some lunch together. Over the pandemic, people lost this type of routine, I’m trying my best to install this back into everyday life.

When does your working day finish? 

This is very variable – mostly thanks to digital living which makes connectivity easier on the go. A few evenings a week I like to get home at a reasonable time, so I can put the kids to bed and spend time with my family. Often, we will have dinner together and then I will get back to work afterwards. This really suits me, and I feel really lucky that I’m able to juggle my schedule this way – it’s the best of both worlds.

How do you prepare for your next day’s work? 

I always read in the evening to switch off, something that I think is essential for preparing for work the next day. I never take my phone upstairs to bed, that way there can be no temptation to check emails, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

What’s your favourite piece of technology? 

This depends on which part of the day you catch me. In the working day, obviously it would have to be my phone. This gives me so much flexibility and allows me to stay connected and in control while having a family life – I can be at work anywhere. Although, in the evenings, it would absolutely be my Kindle.

How do you switch off? 

I do a lot of running, normally about 5k per day – I try to squeeze this into my evenings. This puts me in a great headspace and keeps me away from technology so I can wind down. In the past I have done the London Marathon, half marathons and several Tough Mudders.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

To put it simply – surround yourself with other brilliant people. This piece of advice has been particularly useful during eConsult’s growth. For example, as we have expanded, we have needed to delegate tasks, responsibility and decision making towards the next set of leaders that are growing beneath us. Without this cycle of brilliance, it is very challenging to remain forward thinking and competitive.