My Working Day – Simon Hathaway – MD EMEA at Outform

My Working Day
Simon Hathaway
Simon Hathaway

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 – Simon Hathaway – MD EMEA at Outform about his working day.

What time do you usually wake up?

My alarm goes off at 7am, but I’m usually up by then anyway – although Apple has finally twigged and started to ask if I want to turn it off. It’s a nifty feature, which allows me to listen to the hourly news slot on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme without interruption.

What do you typically have for breakfast

It really depends on the day ahead. The daily routine is a Tumeric shot and dose of Athletic Greens with black tea first thing. Then comes the life-long addiction to peanut butter and some espresso snobbery…

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

I’ll either exercise or take a brisk walk with the dogs – getting outside first-thing energises me and instantly gives my day a boost. A bike ride into work is even better, but it’s a 68km route and takes two hours – not so appealing when you’ve got a hard 9am start.

First thing you do at the start of a workday?

Outform is a global business, so I start the day with project updates on, overnight comms, and other client emails. I’ll always get a few early calls and I can rely on Hannah Abbasi, Outform’s head of marketing and insight, to help fill in any blanks.

How do you prioritise your work?

I used to be big on lists, but thanks to the Zoom bombers and diary assassins popping up over the past year, I’ve bought into the concept of ‘managers & makers’, and the importance of ‘deep work’. A lot of what I do involves managing and setting priorities for others, and I’ll  block out chunks for ‘deep work’ when I need to think and actually put pen to paper. 

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

‘Planned meetings’ need an actual plan. If I’m running a session, I’ll have specified the agenda or set the objectives, so items rattle along with a regular cadence and don’t just meander or fizzle out. We have defined meeting categories at Outform, including KO (Kick-Off) and WPM (Work, People, Money). These acronyms help people understand what’s needed of them and, of equal importance, what they’ll get out of the meeting – there’s nothing worse than wasting the valuable time of others. 

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

Both – I actually block out diary time over lunch to make that happen. I’m lucky that my days are never quite the same, and the last year has created a blended approach combining work from home, time in the office, and visits to our regional facilities. It means I can find myself catching up on the morning, meeting people over lunch, heading out for store checks, or just for some retail inspiration. I’m also a big fan of the ‘multi-tasking dog walk’ – it’s a great time to think and hold calls without the distraction of instant message and email.

When does your working day finish?

Ever since I read Let My people Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, I’ve taken a very flexible approach to hours and there is no hard and fast rule. For everyone’s wellbeing, I avoid meetings outside the traditional 9-5 wherever possible; and if I’m home, I want to sit down and eat with my family.

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

I’ll check the diary and note any priorities. I tend to use Apple notes to capture these overnight, though I am quite enjoying the AI in Outlook 365, Cortana: a neat tool to remind me of what I might have forgotten each afternoon!

What’s your favourite piece of technology?

I’m excited about the work we’re doing for the ‘digital handshake’, which means combining on-and-offline customer data to give retailers a deeper understanding of their shoppers. Retailers are just scratching the surface of what they can accomplish with this 360-degree view of the shopper, and as long as they have their buy-in, they’re just scratching the surface in terms of insights. But my current favourite is my Wahoo Kickr Bike, and its integration into the virtual world of Zwift.

How do you switch off?

To totally switch off, I have to concentrate on something else. Catching waves, climbing mountains, and riding bicycles do that for me. I’ve definitely become a MAMIL cliché, enjoying a mid-life crisis that involves spending too much money on overpriced coffee and fast bikes.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

I’ve always lived by a truth that other people’s perception is their reality. That is until Kevin Roberts, the former global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi (and the boss when I worked there), added: ‘Until you change perception’. Having empathy, recognising the perception we create, and driving that change is a key skill for everyone in business today – especially if you want to be a successful leader.

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