My Working Day – Matthew Tate – Managing Director of Gentronix
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 Matthew Tate – Managing Director of Gentronix, about his working day.
What time do you usually wake up?
I always aim for around 7am, but with two little people in the house it is almost always around 6am. That time can often be the most treasured part of my day, chatting about their last-night dreams and their day to come as we head to the kitchen to have breakfast and for me to iron a shirt ready for a day at our offices at Alderley Park.
What do you typically have for breakfast?
I always start the day with a coffee. A cappuccino if I have time to get the machine turned on, with granary toast and marmalade (if the kids haven’t relieved me of it). I know it’s the most important meal of the day, but other than my first coffee I’ve never been much of a fan of breakfast day to day, although it is treasured on a weekend and holidays with the family. I find that with my morning caffeine fix, I can have an initial ten minutes blasting through my emails and getting to grips with what my day is looking like.
What is the rest of your morning routine?
A mix of getting us all out of the house, getting into the car and trying to remember everything! The car journey to my son’s nursery since the start of the pandemic has included everything from the usual game of counting buses, to calls where I discuss secure working, fundraising with shareholders and our most recent deals. There have been plenty of times I’ve still found myself keeping a bus tally well after I’ve completed drop off!
What is the first thing you do at the start of your working day?
I usually start with a bit of the Today programme as there’s something about it that helps set my mind into that ‘ready to work’ gear. I always check in with our Finance Director, as it is critical to know if there is anything needing my immediate attention. I then look at what other tasks have come in that need to be addressed quickly. Gentronix is going through a really exciting growth phase at the moment – expanding the team, operational space and our client base – so with that comes exciting challenges to work through on a daily basis.
How do you prioritise your day’s work?
I would like to say I’m really organised, but I’m not sure that that way of working would really suit me. I like the pressure of dealing with urgent tasks and the opportunities and solutions you find along the way. My role today is very different from the days I used to spend in the labs working through planned experiments. Now I’m usually dealing with something critical that needs a decision or talking with our client base on how we as a company can support them. Thankfully with such a fantastic team at Gentronix, day to day operations are always well in hand. During the day I have to make time to think, as for me this is absolutely essential for my productivity. Therefore, I try and make sure I give myself bits of time throughout the day to do just that.
Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?
For meetings, I like to know what my key messages are, or points that need to be conveyed, but nothing more than that. Having a detailed plan for a meeting to me makes it lack something as it assumes I know everything that needs to be discussed, without input from all participants. For me, meetings should always be a sharing of ideas and active debates, be that in a team, company or client call – if it’s a monologue, I don’t think we’re getting the best out of everyone. As MD at Gentronix, I feel as though this is the best way to run the business too. We aim to build and encourage a company culture welcoming of new ideas and discussions from all members of the team. This creates an inclusive environment and I hope the team see myself being approachable as a leader.
Do you have a working lunch or is it good to take a break?
Normally it’s a mix. My morning never allows for a prepared lunch, so I’m always nipping to the site café to grab something, which gets me the leg stretch and fresh air. I’m rarely eating and typing, but I do like to use it as one of my thinking slots. Reflecting on the morning, projects, deals and how to approach the next phase or task.
I think taking some time away from your desk when you can at lunchtime is vital so that you can reset and come back afterwards feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day. We’re a blessed at Alderley Park to have just lovely surroundings and the team has easy access to a number of site nature trials and great outdoor space. We like to see our team taking advantage of this and I am a big believer that it helps with workplace wellbeing.
When does your working day finish?
I always try and aim for 5pm, but it usually ends up being 7pm before I can start to wind down after a busy day. Our client base at Gentronix is global, which means meetings can run throughout the day and into the evenings. As we are scaling up the business right now, time vanishes as the MD/CEO simply because there are so many different things to cover. After 4pm, I try and spend time doing some of the things that I don’t need to attend a meeting for.
How do you prepare for the next day’s work?
Towards the end of the day, I like to check my diary to see whether or not I have an early call and what meetings are planned. I then like to think about what I need to achieve tomorrow; capture anything I need to address first thing and make a few notes on anything I need to follow-up on with a member of the team. I then head home for some quality time with the family, which is something I really cherish.
What’s your favourite piece of technology?
In my day-to-day life, it’s got to be my coffee machine which is an investment that has paid itself back many times over. But my Jabra headset has been the transformational link this year for work, enabling very little interruption to work meetings whilst doing my bit with home-schooling and not allowing work to restrict family life taking place in the background.
How do you switch off?
I’m definitely more of a ‘dimmer’ switch – fully switching off never really happens for me. I see it as a positive, as I know it’s driven by my passion for the science we deliver. Having two very active, imaginative and outdoor-loving kids does give me plenty of enjoyable distraction from active work thoughts. I’m desperately trying to get the whole family interested in growing vegetables. It’s my dad’s pride and joy, and I have very fond memories of those times. Growing things in our garden is something I find really relaxing and a great way to distract myself from a hectic work life.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Always ask why! To be successful we have to understand what we are trying to deliver, how we should best achieve this and then whether or not we have succeeded. Critiquing all those steps and everything in between lets us understand the value we can bring, the value it can hold for others and where we can improve. Luckily, it comes fairly naturally to scientists but capturing the “why Gentronix” message into our value proposition is what’s making Gentronix a really successful business and enabling us to continue our growth.