Daniel Gilbert, CEO at Brainlabs, has been a valued contributor to Econsultancy for a few years (writing about topics such as biddable media strategy, modern marketing and GDPR).

But the time has come to give Gilbert the ‘Day in the life’ treatment. So, here’s what Daniel gets up to every day.

(Remember to visit Econsultancy Jobs if you are looking for a new role yourself.)

Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do?

Daniel Gilbert: I am the CEO of Brainlabs, a performance marketing agency and technology provider. I oversee our growth strategy, which means meeting with strategic partners as well as being involved with big pitches. I also check in with each department to make sure everything in the company is running smoothly.

My job is to help Brainlabs achieve its ambitious targets for growth. We’ve doubled year-on-year since beginning, and we intend to keep up this fantastic rate of expansion — a challenge which gets harder every year! I oversee our Marketing and New Business teams, sometimes supporting with pitches, and meeting with partners and prospective clients to help grow the business.

E: Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?

DG: As founder and CEO of Brainlabs, I sit at the top of the organisation but am in continual dialogue with the senior team and department heads to maintain a two-way communication channel. We haven’t sought out external funding and so have no board to answer to, and have complete control over the company’s strategic direction.

daniel gilbert

E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

DG: Due to the constantly changing nature of the digital marketing scene, my job requires continual decision-making, so adaptability is a must.

It’s important to know how to improve processes, as the whole company is very process-driven. Finding ways to automate little tasks, share best practice and update methods is a crucial part of the Brainlabs mindset. And I don’t just mean adaptability to the ever-evolving technology, which is of course absolutely essential to survive in the industry. But I’m also talking about openness to constructive criticism, as feedback is a gift and a key driver of self-improvement and growth.

E: Tell us about a typical working day…

DG: I don’t really have a typical working day, but I’m definitely a huge fan of an early start: I wake up at around 5am every morning. I spend about 90% of my week out of the office, often pitching to prospective clients, but also giving talks at conferences.

Back at the office I could be checking in with department heads or going on a little walk with someone I’ve been paired with by our Random Ramble system. In the afternoon I might have a TV interview lined up or finish an opinion piece on the state of the industry before heading out to another client meeting.

E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?

DG: I like to set ambitious goals to challenge myself and hold the company to a high standard, because hitting those targets is the most rewarding part of the job. Growing as a whole to create new opportunities for everyone and seeing employees develop their skills and progress quickly is an amazing feeling!

What can be difficult is moments of self-realisation when it comes to issues related to unconscious biases. Building an equal and accessible workplace is one of my main priorities, but I don’t think you can ever be finished with a goal like that. We are constantly trying to address it by training employees and levelling out the playing field, but there’s always more work to be done. There have been moments where we’ve noticed that we needed to make improvements and I’m proud of the changes we’ve made as a result.

E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?

DG: My goal is to drive remarkable growth in revenue and career progression. How do we achieve that? By hiring great talent and measuring employee satisfaction, by consistently delivering great results for our clients and measuring client satisfaction, and by signing on new clients and measuring annualised new business and YoY growth in revenue.

E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?

DG: I’ll admit, my top pick has to be my phone. It’s a godsend for people who spend most of their time out of the office like me. Phones are just essential for working when I’m on the move.

The entire G Suite deserves a mention for facilitating collaboration with the added ability to enhance each app with scripts. I have to add that Trello is a personal (and company-wide) favourite. It’s such an intuitive platform for collaboration, task management and formalising processes. I don’t do anything without getting it on my Trello board first.

E: How did you get into media, and where might you go next?

DG: I used to work at Google and saw lots of large clients who didn’t know what to do with all their customer data. I saw the massive opportunity that PPC represented, to help businesses benefit from the power of all that data effectively by combining programmers, mathematicians and scientists with marketers.

Media is still changing — the future will be about preparing for technology like machine learning and knowing how to prepare for changes in consumer behaviour. Whilst we plan ahead and navigate through these developments, I would like to keep seeing more double-digit growth for the company.

E: Which recent campaigns do you admire?

DG: There’s been some great out-of-home advertising this year, especially topical campaigns related to some of this year’s events like the royal wedding and pride month. A poignant example is Stonewall’s “Come out for LGBT” cinema ad. M&S’ more light-hearted temporary rebranding to Markle & Sparkle also comes to mind, as well as Nintendo’s themed Super Mario Odyssey posters on the London Underground. Ikea’s also been quite on it, from its “Don’t worry, you can still get a Harry at Ikea” ad (referring to a chair) to their World Cup ads with couch designs marketed for dissenting football fans.

There’s a lot of exciting work being done in programmatic out-of-home, like the Innocent Drinks Super Juice campaign that targeted audiences based on geo-location data to show ads at optimum times. I look forward to seeing more innovation in this area as the technology improves and new players, like Google, enter the game.

E: Do you have any advice for people who want to get into agencyland?

DG: You don’t need a traditional marketing background to succeed. I’d go so far as saying that coming at the industry with a new and different angle is a huge advantage. Keep an eye out for the new opportunities that technology offers. Be open and constantly adaptable, even to game-changing developments like this year’s introduction of GDPR. Don’t underestimate the power of data and machine learning, while keeping in mind the value of human collaboration.