My Working Day – Sharon Whale – CEO at OLIVER UK

My Working Day

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 Sharon Whale – CEO at OLIVER UK, about her working day.

WHAT TIME DO YOU USUALLY WAKE UP?

Around 6.30 to 6.45. After I’ve snoozed once!

WHAT DO YOU TYPICALLY HAVE FOR BREAKFAST?

Porridge, almost every day. Avo and bacon on toast at the weekends!

WHAT IS THE REST OF YOUR MORNING ROUTINE BEFORE YOU START WORK?

Super-fast shower, super-fast dressing, super-fast makeup and hair. Feed the dog, let the dog out, shout at the dog to come back in, the dog ignores me, ensure both the children have their PE kits, instruments, projects, homework; and once a week, I’ll take them to school myself. Drive, park the car, get on the tube, start working my way through emails… get off the tube early and walk half an hour to work, to set my body and mind up for the day.

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU DO AT THE START OF YOUR WORKING DAY?

Eat porridge, drink tea and plug in the computer. Then I try to clear emails, discuss today and the next several days’ requirements with my fabulous EA Mark, without whom I would be lost.

HOW DO YOU PRIORITIZE YOUR DAY’S WORK?

I try to do that in prior days – Mark is excellent at marking prep time ahead of schedule, and effective at moving my day around to fit in the inevitable ‘got to be dealt with now’ stuff that comes up.

Ensuring the company is trading well and is future-proofed, that all our clients are happy and getting the best service from us, and that our people are well managed and motivated are the main priorities. I try and spend as much time out on site with our teams as possible.

DO YOU PLAN MEETINGS OR ARE THEY A WASTE OF TIME?

I try and plan. Some are a waste of time, but I need to get better at calling that in the moment, so not to waste my own or others’ time.

DO YOU HAVE A WORKING LUNCH OR IS IT GOOD TO TAKE A BREAK?

Generally, there’s no lunch break unless I’m meeting a client. It is good to take a break, but I like to get as much done in the working day as possible to free up time to spend with family.

WHEN DOES YOUR WORKING DAY FINISH?

I normally leave the office by 18.30, and try to leave on time a couple of days a week. I work all the way home on the train, which is another hour of answering emails, checking decks or setting things up.

I try not to work at home, but the laptop comes out after dinner at least twice a week! As a CEO of a number of companies within Inside Ideas Group, and indeed OLIVER itself, it’s important to be available.

HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR THE NEXT DAY’S WORK?

Get a good night’s sleep!

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE OF TECHNOLOGY?

Zoom.

HOW DO YOU SWITCH OFF?

Kids, Netflix, holidays, walking at least an hour a day.

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?

Hard question, as there’s no one piece of advice I have had that’s the single best. Very recently, OLIVER’s ECD Rob Kavanagh quoted Seth Godin, talking about step-up moments – is this a Deep Water or Big Wave moment? That spoke to me and it will certainly frame my thinking moving forwards – about both myself and others. It’s important to always be learning – you’re never there and you’re never done. At CEO level in particular, it’s vital to constantly work on your EQ. Strive to become the type of leader you want to be, all the time.

It’s entirely possible that the water is quite deep. The thing is, if you’re used to swimming in water that’s six feet deep, then sixty feet of depth is actually no different. It’s not more dangerous or difficult, it simply feels that way. Giving a speech to 20,000 people isn’t twenty times more difficult than giving one to a thousand.

“It’s worth reminding yourself, regularly, that the work hasn’t changed, merely your narrative about the stakes involved.

“On the other hand, if you’re used to surfing 6 foot swells and you find yourself on an island in the Indonesian archipelago—where the swells are 25 feet—this is a good moment to sit on the beach for awhile.

“Surfing bigger waves is not the same as surfing small waves but with more effort. It’s an entirely different interaction, and it’s not all in your head.

“Take a lesson. Take five lessons. Give yourself the room to learn. Don’t jump from 6 to 25 in one day. And don’t assume that just because you’ve figured out how to survive at 25 that you’re ready for 50. Big waves are usually right next to big reefs.

“Begin with the question: Is this a deep water problem or a big wave problem?

“The internet is filled with deep water moments, and we can get our narrative straight and learn to thrive even when we think the water is too deep.

“And our careers often offer us big wave moments. When you see one, don’t walk away right away, but get yourself a coach.”

Seth Godin, 2019

Are you a CEO of a business and want to be featured on Business Leader for ‘My Working Day’? Please contact editor@businessleader.co.uk.

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