My Working Day – Tom Lawson – CEO of Opencast

Tom Lawson

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 Tom Lawson – CEO of Opencast about his working day.

What time do you usually wake up?

7 o’clock.

What do you typically have for breakfast?

I like to have Weetabix and muesli with a banana, orange juice and black coffee.

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

I shower, dress and then eat breakfast, catch up on the latest news and pick up any key priority messages before beginning my commute or starting work remotely at 8.

What is the first thing you do at the start of the workday?

My first task of the day varies as I like to remain flexible, however ideally I begin by replying to priority emails and planning the rest of the day. The senior leadership team has a fifteen-minute stand -up meeting at 8:45 everyday to discuss the priorities and challenges of the day ahead.

How do you prioritise your work?

I start planning my work by blocking out time for the most important tasks such as meetings or urgent actions. I then fill in the remaining time with other key tasks. I’ve got a master to-do list, however the recent changes to Outlook and To-Do on Mac seem to have made the functionality poorer so I’m on the lookout for something new here!

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

Planned meetings definitely work best, I think everyone could meet less and plan more, it makes for much more productive meetings.

As a leadership team we’ve made a conscious effort to clear Tuesdays and Wednesdays of all regular meetings, so that we can purely focus on progressing key priorities. We want more doing and less talking about doing!

We’ve tried to move to meetings being 25- or 50-minute slots to create gaps between scheduled commitments – it is important to have time to reflect and clear your mind especially in this remote working environment. If not, you end up jumping from one meeting to the next, with no breaks.

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

I am a huge advocate of everyone taking a break at some point during the day. I enjoy blocking out an hour to get some fresh air and exercise at lunchtime. This has been especially useful in winter, and right now with lockdown, as it allows you to see some daylight and give your brain a rest before returning to work in the afternoon, hopefully feeling refreshed and energised.

When does your working day finish?

My working day tends to finish at 6pm. I then eat and enjoy spending some time with my family to unwind. If needed, I pick up any additional work later in the evening after the kids are in bed.

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

This is definitely an area I am focusing on improving and approaching with more discipline. I currently prepare by checking all emails and clearing completed tasks off my to do list at the end of each day, before planning my priorities for the following day. However, I do find that this is something that can easily slip, especially at the end of the busy day.

What’s your favourite piece of technology?

My current favourite piece of technology is my VanMoof e-bike. I recently bought one to use to commute to work through the Cycle to Work scheme, it’s got an app with lots of settings you can play about with and is loads of fun to ride.

How do you switch off?

I like to spend time in the outdoors to help switch off from desk-based work, so I often cycle or go on walks. Family is so important to me, our ideal longer break is a trip skiing somewhere abroad. I’m so passionate about the work Opencast does, but I am hoping to improve my ability to switch off this year, as balance is definitely key to achieving a healthy and productive work-life relationship.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Work hard and be nice to people! It’s a key pair of behaviours that aligns with the core of our company values of build trust, enable people, work together, do the right thing and make a difference.

We’re very focussed on building an enterprise technology consultancy that is very human – we want to get the right balance of delivering interesting and challenging work, investing in and developing our team and having a strong purpose driven culture. Getting that right invariably starts and ends with treating our people and clients in the right way, and getting the job done.