Due September 2016!
In this last week I've been sharing the big news that my wife and I are expecting our fourth child. Of course, this is a really big deal to us and another exciting development in our ever growing family. I always think of myself as a Husband/Father first and a Digital Marketer second but recently I've come to feel that the skills acquired by the former can actually enhance the latter.

When I first became a father, nearly seven years ago, I was terrified of the pressure of being the chief bread winner trying to keep up with a fast paced industry on less than four hours sleep a night. How was I to ensure I left work on time everyday to enjoy family meals or that I switched off from work at the weekends to make the most of my time with my daughter?

I'm not going to pretend there aren't daily challenges, but below are a few areas in which I feel this increased domestic responsibility can actually make you better at your job:

Time management

Turning up either in the office or at meetings on time is essential to show respect to your colleagues. As a parent it's just as crucial as a delayed meal/bedtime can have disastrous ramifications! Becoming a parent makes you a master at planning ahead - my wife is the queen of this and every morning we come downstairs to a laid breakfast table and a row of packed lunches prepared the night before!

Knowing that you have a finite number of hours to get things done really helps you focus on delivery.  Rather than spending days in meetings, or over complicating presentations, parenthood teaches you to focus on projects that have clear end results.


In marketing, you encounter lots of different (and often strong) personality types. Raising children can make you much more attuned to the emotions, motivations, and personalities of others – including the people who work with and for you.

Thicker skin

The daily struggle continues!
Getting approval for a piece of work, or even achieving buy in for a big digital project, can be an uphill struggle. In the world of parenting, you quickly learn that your child's rejection of your cooking is not personal. When they scream at you for telling them it's bedtime or tell you they don't like you for confiscating a toy, you know it's because you are actually doing something right. In both marketing and parenting, having a thick skin and a sense of humor can help you keep your blood pressure down and things in perspective.

Working as a team

One of the first decisions my wife and I made on becoming parents was that we would present a untied front. Even if one of us disagreed with the other's methods we'd wait until the children were out of ear shot to discuss it. Children are very perceptive and any sign of weakness or inconsistency would mean a big chink in our armour to exploit! The same is true at work where if you function as a team you are much stronger when any difficult scenarios come your way. Any infighting or back biting between managers will definitely weaken your department.

Staying positive

Children all suffer from repeated mood swings and some people in the office are not that different. However, if you can ensure you remain in a good mood (despite the sleep deprivation) and behave in a consistent manner it has a similar effect on co-workers and makes you more approachable. Then your children/colleagues will take you much more seriously when you really do put your foot down!


Patience is a virtue!
There are very few skills more valuable or more challenging to learn than patience. But when there are children who can’t wait one minute, let alone five, the happiness of the household depends on both mine and my wife's abilities to keep our cool. Parenthood has a way of putting things into perspective and often results in a workforce that is less argumentative and more focused on a positive end result.

Strengths and weaknesses 

I am amazed at how my three current children are all so different despite having the same upbringing and genes. One is clearly gifted at maths (I have no idea where that comes from!) and another is already showing signs of some sporting prowess (again... no idea!) They also have their own unique strengths and weakness, as do we all. Recognising this in the workplace is very important in order to have a healthy dynamic and when managing projects.

Staying relevant

In digital marketing keeping up to date with the latest technology is paramount. This is something which I have previously written about and I maintain that by having children it gives you that extra impetus to stay in touch to ensure they don't fall foul of the every changing social media and internet landscape.


Whilst sugar is getting a lot of bad press at the moment there really is nothing like a full stomach to transform people in to a much more agreeable mood! Having taken homemade cakes into the office on a number of occasions there is no doubt it made for a much better atmosphere. The smiles on our children's faces on presenting them with this year's Easter eggs was a thing to behold!

Of course, it is not necessary to be a parent to have this type of perspective on life and work, but for me it has helped immensely. I also am far from perfect and feel I fail daily both at work and as a parent which are constant learning experiences of trial and error. However, the more policies that company CEOs can enact to motivate us parents to remain valued members of the workforce, the better they’ll all fare in the end.
For this blog post I thought I'd take it back to basics and look at the role of digital marketing in various types of organisations to address the much publicised 'digital skills gap'. Working in a rapidly growing FTSE250 construction company has definitely proved to me that the economy is continuing to grow, but it seems that schools and training budgets are not keeping apace with the increasing focus on employees digital skills. In marketing, skills such as user experience, social media and analytics are now an increasing requirement in every job spec.

Digital talent is definitely in short supply as I have witnessed first hand. From my background of working in schools I would frequently see the IT teachers being outclassed by their pupils - my theory on this was that anyone who was particularly gifted in this area would go on to work in industry IT departments where they could make much better money with much reduced stress levels!

Things are changing slowly, but you can count on one hand the companies really addressing this issue and they're usually the big players such as the IDM, Google, or the BBC with their high profile 'Make it Digital' campaign.

Coding academies are also sprouting up in abundance and whilst I would support my children getting involved in this (I can't deny the Kano or Raspberry Pi look great fun) it's important to remember that not everyone needs to learn to code a great new app but instead to understand the fundamentals of how code works, where to find it, and how to go about finding out how things are made or work with code. The key focus is digital literacy rather than digital skills.

Happy memories!
I remember spending hours with my Amiga BASIC book in my early teens copying out code to make my screen change colour on different key presses! Whilst it didn't teach me how to code outright, it was a very useful grounding of the principals and processes of how things work. This is how I feel the best digital professionals can excel - by being as autodidactic as possible in order to stay up to date with the latest innovations and principles.

I've also seen that the best digital professionals are often found at either technology focused companies (e.g. Amazon) or those who are the most open minded and unafraid to take risks (e.g. Innocent). By seeking out roles in these types of companies individuals can quickly make their mark and also have fun experimenting and pushing the envelope.

Our new Twitter account is going
from strength to strength
For my part, and whilst the above scenario does sound appealing, I get a lot of my job satisfaction from seeing previously tech-shy colleagues pick up and run with something to which they were either previously resistant or had no realisation of the benefits. A key part of my role is extolling the virtues of a digital business to gain market share on our competitors. The launch of our recent dedicated Construction Twitter account is a good example of this as other colleagues are now beginning to request something similar for their division! Selling in digital to a big company can be a lot of work but the hard won results can be much more rewarding.

Essentially, there's a need for transformation in training and culture in a large majority of companies. With the emphasis on the importance of digital from senior leaders there still remains a lack of focus and investment on developing the digital skills and talent. Training and development programs have been ineffective or insufficient and there needs to be fundamental change to organisational structures to make this a reality.

Keeping on the employability theme, this week marks the beginning of National Apprenticeships Week and we have been hard at work on an external campaign to really shout about what we do in this arena. This all centres around a Blog containing interviews with 18 apprentices and their experiences of working for Kier. We've also managed to get out and film some of them in their roles allowing me to dust off my video editing skills!

This is a big step forward for us and I've been working closely with the PR team to ensure we maximise any press coverage and have a robust social media plan for the week. With ambitious staff recruitment targets anything we can do as an employer to both attract and support the best possible colleagues is very important.  We may even get some young blood trying to give me a run for my money on the digital skills front!
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