This month we hear from Mark Evans, Managing Director of marketing and digital at Direct Line.
We wondered how he's coping working from home (wfh) and what the day has in store for him now. He also shared with us the best piece of advice he's ever received.
What does your morning routine look like now we're all wfh?
Wake at 6am. Walk for an hour or so with dog (compulsory) and my wife (optional). Breakfast at 8am with son who is school-working but not daughter who has “finished” her A-levels and so working to rule. At desk by 8.30am to get started
How are you making sure you stay fit and sane whilst wfh?
I am recovering from a slipped disc in my lower back so I’m quite restricted beyond walking and yoga. Hence, I am really missing running particularly since I should have been doing the London marathon. From a mental health perspective, I am conscious to keep a routine and try to have regular breaks (next question).
Where do you find yourself having lunch now you’re wfh?
25% of time it’s at my desk brought to me by my lovely daughter who has leapt out of bed at midday. 75% of the time I take 30 mins out to have lunch with the family. I’d love it to be 100% but all best laid plans. In all seriousness I have never had so much time with my kids, and with my daughter hoping to go to university later in the year, probably won’t have ever again. Therefore, much as I want lockdown to end as quickly as possible I am grateful for some of the unintended positive consequences.
What does an average working day have in store for you?
Inevitably there is a barrage of Zoom and Teams meetings as with everyone. In that sense there is a risk that everything is blurring a bit. Hence as a team we are conscious to keep some structure with stand-ups and keeping the pattern of set piece meetings that we had.
What also helps is that we are really focussed on what matters most in this crisis moment. At the outset we established our 4 key priorities as 1. Protect our people. 2. Protect our Customers 3. Keep thinking long term. 4. Act in the nation’s interest. This clarity has allowed us to really accelerate through some difficult and complex challenges
What is the most random thing on your wfh desk?
A fairly uninspiring plant. It was hastily stolen from the toilet downstairs when that was the meme of the moment back in week 3 of lockdown and I haven’t really thought about it or noticed it until this question
What’s the best thing about your job?
It is a privilege to lead such a great group of people. The response to this challenge has been unbelievable in terms of people demonstrating commitment, resilience and creativity. We were fortunate that we made a commitment very early on, per our priority to protect our people, not to furlough any staff.
This has created a spirit of us all being in this together towards helping our customers at this very difficult time. Hence it is astonishing, but perhaps not surprising, that we have achieved some of our highest ever customer experience scores despite the lockdown conditions
Who was your last email from?
At the top of my in-box is a request to complete a survey. This is the weekly engagement survey that we are now doing on a pulse basis to check how are people are doing. This has proved to be really useful to keep a temperature check and what’s working and what could be even better as we adjust to a new norm.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
On the night of my graduation a few of us were out celebrating in an unassuming curry house and my best friend’s father made a little speech that went as follows…
As I look before you I’m jealous!. Jealous because from this position you can achieve almost anything in the world. But also I pity you. I pity you because for 20 years you will go in search of success but realise when your best years are behind you that it’s not about success – it’s about significance. But the really smart people figure out how to achieve success and significance simultaneously. These words have haunted me in a positive way ever since and hopefully have helped me to make more wholesome decisions along the way.
What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?
At the age of 9 I wanted to be a forensic scientist. Mainly because I sat next to a boy in school who was accompanied to school by the police because someone had tried to murder his mother. As it turned out his father had tried to kill his wife for an insurance job but had been caught by forensic science. A series called Indelible Evidence featured it and it really fascinated me. Alas it turned out not to be when I chose to do Economics at uni.
What’s your current favourite campaign and why?
It has to be the new Direct Line campaign. Granted there is lots of good advertising out there that is connecting with people at an emotional level in this crisis time including several of the food retailers. But even so, as with our Chur-chill campaign “We’re On It” is a big filmic ideally brilliantly executed and moves us upwards and onwards from Winston Wolfe where many had questioned if that was possible
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out in the industry?
Be curious. The best marketing boss I had was Bruce McColl, CMO for Mars for over a decade. He said that curiosity is the core skill of any marketer and that there is an insight lurking around the corner that can transform your brand, your business or even your sector. You just have to be curious enough to find it
And a light hearted one to finish on – If you could have any super power?
30 minutes of hindsight!