In this ‘Day in the Life’ interview, Simon Farthing gives us some excellent insights into his work at Monetate, including some advice on productivity and how to get started in ecommerce.
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Please describe your job: What do you do?
Simon Farthing: I am our Global Strategy & Insights Director at Monetate. My role is part external, providing expert consultancy and data driven insights to enable our clients to meet their strategic goals from personalisation. It’s also internal, leading a global team and working closely with our executive leadership team to make sure our own organisation is set up to best deliver success to our client base.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
SF: I share overall responsibility for our global Customer Success function with my US colleague Cristina Westwood and report to Brandon Atkinson our COO.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
SF: Customer success positions in a tech organisation give you the chance to have an extremely diverse role so the key skills I try to use every day are curiosity, enthusiasm and calmness. In any customer success role it’s essential that you’re a good listener and able to filter the signal from the noise, this is a similarly important skill when it comes to the insights part of the role where digesting complex data and information and presenting a cohesive story is essential.
Tell us about a typical working day…
SF: My typical day is as much about being a dad as it is about being a strategist or a customer success leader. I take the nursery drop off and pick up routine in turns with my wife and on my favourite type of day I’ll get into the office early, 8am at the latest. I’m a big believer that everyone has their own circadian rhythm and I can get more done between 8am-12 noon than I can between 12 noon and 8pm. Working for an American company with a large UK office is great because I can sit down and get the work that requires a lot of concentration early, before my US colleagues are out of bed. That gives me the rest of the day for client and internal meetings.
The variety in my role means I could be contributing to discussions about our product roadmap on Monday, advising clients on their personalisation strategy on Tuesday, speaking at an industry event about the future of personalisation on Wednesday, advising my team complex data insights on Thursday and analysing our own business performance on Friday. Sometimes this variety can all happen in one day! My day often ends with nursery pick up and often the most challenging part of the day – my daughter’s bed time.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
SF: Being able to contribute to the global business and also provide local leadership is the best part of my job. I’m fortunate enough to love my job and find it genuinely challenging and stimulating but even though it’s a cliche, it really is the people that make the job. Having a brilliant group of colleagues and clients can make any good job a great job. What can suck is the travel, if I could have one superpower it would be get anywhere in the World instantly.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
SF: Coming from a digital marketing background, I always find that I’m goal orientated. For our business it’s really about using our software to deliver personalisation to more customers, in more places, more often. If we achieve that then our clients are happy, their customers are happy and we’re happy. Personally I believe in everything in moderation, including moderation. I don’t like to plan too many years in advance.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
SF: Slack, Email, Keynote, Zoom, Google Docs all have strengths and I probably couldn’t do my job without them, however my favourite way to get the job done is by simply having a chat. I’ve learned more by talking to people than by doing anything else, and I think it’s massively important that as productivity tools increase in sophistication, we don’t forget that sometimes the simple tools are the best ones.
How did you end up at Monetate, and where might you go from here?
SF: I worked client side for my whole career until leaving a senior CRM role at Carphone Warehouse six years ago. My career has taken me from CRM, to marketing effectiveness, data science consultancy, and ecommerce. I love working with a variety of clients so I see myself working in tech for the foreseeable future, being able to deliver at scale is something I love.
Which website experiences have impressed you?
SF: My favourite website experiences are the ones you don’t notice. Innovative website features are massively important to drive the industry forward, but the websites that customers (me included) keep coming back to are the ones that just seem to know what you want and help you get there quickly. Websites in 2019 allow more customer choice than ever. With exponentially more websites competing for customer attention, it’s the implicit decisions that websites make about what to show a customer, that really make the step change in customer loyalty.
What advice would you give somebody who wants to work in ecommerce?
SF: If you’re starting your career in e-commerce try and experience different roles to see what you like best. This is generally easier in smaller organisations where you get more opportunity to be proactive and learn about other parts of the business, but whoever you would like to work for, keep asking questions. Finding a mentor is very important too, if you can find someone at work, or outside of work that can be a coach and mentor it can have a great impact on your career.