Giles Ivey is the UK CEO of MiQ, a British-born marketing intelligence company with offices around the world.
We caught up with him to find out about a typical working day (or month!), how MiQ measures success, and the advice he would give to marketers struggling to turn their data into insights.
(If you’d like to be featured in our ‘Day in the Life’ column, get in touch!).
Hi, Giles. Please describe your job: What do you do?
Giles Ivey: My role at MiQ is to run the UK arm of the business. In a nutshell, all the commercial efforts and everything that MiQ deliver in the UK. As a breakdown, my day probably consists 70% of ensuring that MiQ is successful and known in the UK, and 30% in helping to be part of the company on a global scale.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Giles Ivey: I am the CEO of the UK but also sit on the global boards for MiQ. I report into Richard Dunmall, the President of MiQ.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Giles Ivey: In this role you need a huge amount of flexibility, because you will always need the ability to pivot and change with the times. To be successful in this role, you have to keep up-to-date with where the market is going. This means understanding that what you’re working on right now will change in two years’ time.
However, you’re only as good as your people. Honesty and integrity have to come from the top of the organisation, and then filter all the way down. What sets us apart is the honesty to say ‘No, we can’t do that. We aren’t able to deliver it’ when we have to. If you’re in a world where 95% of what you do is great, and the other 5% of the time you are honest about what you’re not good at, that should really put you at the top of the pile in your industry.
Being as we are such a sizeable organisation (at MiQ, we have more than 130 members of staff in the UK alone) you cannot do everything yourself. The ability to work as a team becomes vital here. And, of course, you need to have a very strong, reliable management team.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Giles Ivey: For me, there’s no such thing as a typical working day – more like a typical working month! In a month, I probably do around 20 to 25 meetings with people we might like to do business with now or in the future. For that very reason, I spend a lot of time outside of the building.
I catch up with the local leadership team quite frequently, and it is important that we talk and work together regularly. We set ourselves pretty tough targets and tough goals. I talk to Van [Sideras, MD of MiQ, UK] every day, as there is always something we want to grab each other’s opinion on.
There is always a great deal of global communication and global work. I’m always interested in having 1:1s with people in the team, whether this is about projects I am leading on or involved in. There’s a fair bit of travel involved as well, and I spend quite a lot of time outside of the office.
We have fifteen offices around the world now, we do board meetings four times a year to understand the different global challenges. I communicate regularly with our team in India, as our core central function sits there.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Giles Ivey: What do I love about my job? Well, I feel I work for one of the most dynamic, exciting and interesting digital businesses in the world. I feel constantly enriched by that challenge and I love and respect the people I work with. Although we’re a big business, we’ve won awards and are really scaling as a business, it still feels like we’re agile! We’re trying to avoid creating too much red tape, too much formality. Be agile, move quickly – that’s always been my motto. At MiQ, we are fast, but intelligently so.
And what sucks? I would say that I am the worst part of my job. I’m impatient. I want to do everything by yesterday. However well we are currently doing, I always hope we can do better. Truly, I suck. I can’t deflect that onto anyone else.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Giles Ivey: The goals we have are big ones around culture. We work in a really young industry, and keeping the best people, maintaining an environment where they continue to thrive and ensuring we develop people as much as possible – that’s a crucial goal for us. Not just for me, but for the entire management team.
My firm belief is however good your products are, however well you deliver campaigns, whatever you are currently talking about or solutions you are building for… if the people you have aren’t great or aren’t growing, you really are nothing.
Like any massive digital commercial business, our goals are also around revenue and growth. At this moment, we are a rapidly growing business, both in the UK and globally. We benchmark ourselves against that.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Giles Ivey: Two things – we look after our people. It’s important to set goals for people to develop. We make sure we promote them from within, and are heavily involved with succession planning.
And we talk about the people struggling in their job. Often, when people are struggling in their jobs, it really isn’t about them – it’s much more likely that they’re in the wrong job, or their manager perhaps is not as good as they could be. If we feel there’s a dip in performance, we can identify it early and give ourselves enough time to get the best out of that person, as well as for them to get the best out of us.
For any business, a big challenge will always be communication. As you grow, communication gets harder. An important tool that brings us all together would be our company offsites four times a year. Nothing flash – somewhere nice, airy, light, where you can see the outside world.
We talk about what we need to work on, how we can do better. You always find you can get some of the best ideas from the most unlikely of sources. The rhythm of going offsite four times a year, and doing it together as a company, allows us to really focus on our culture. But we also question our own strategies – how can we work better for our customers? How do we market ourselves better?
How did you end up at MiQ, and where might you go from here?
Giles Ivey: I met the founder, Gurman Hundal, of MiQ previously, and I knew several people from MiQ reputationally. I knew my boss pretty well; he was a customer when he was at Mindshare and I was at AOL. I knew there was an opportunity, and luckily have been working at MiQ ever since!
Is there anywhere you would go on?
Giles Ivey: Actually, I really hope that I’m here for a long time. I’d love to be here for five, six, seven years and by that point maybe have the luxury of not having to have a 48-weeks-a-year, nine-to-five job.
Which companies do you admire for their approach to data and analytics?
Giles Ivey: ‘Admire’ probably isn’t the right word in my response – more like respect. You have to have respect for the three businesses, Google, Facebook and Amazon, for sitting on the largest amount of data and analytics. But it’s more of a grudging respect.
Attribution has become more sophisticated, and I don’t necessarily think Google and Facebook will be as important to advertisers in the future as they are now. Of the three, you probably have to respect Amazon more than Google and Facebook – for doing their business a bit more quietly, without alienating big chunks of the world.
Do you have any advice for marketers struggling to turn data into insights?
Giles Ivey: Often, marketers simply don’t know the value of the data they’re sitting on, or how to use it. We work with some companies who have a tremendous amount of data, but haven’t found a way to translate it into making their advertising more effective. Work out what proprietary data you’re sitting on, and get to grips with how that can be used.