Hi, I am Steve Plummer, Head of Strategic Consulting for After Digital. In my spare time, I play in a rock band called Shardlake, run a small music production studio, cycle, hike, camp and spend time with my family, doing all of the above. This is possibly the most challenging blog I’ve been asked to write. Why? Because no two days are the same.
How did you become Head of Strategic Consulting, what made you pursue this as a career?
Whilst my degree was in English Literature and Information Science, I use very little of that day to day. I kind of fell into this role having started out as a telesales rep back in the day. My career has been, what is euphemistically called, a “Portfolio” career. I have had a tonne of jobs over nearly 14 companies. BUT it is this depth of experience that allows me to do what I do.
Three years ago I saw the need for our client's to be able to access experienced consultants
As Head of Strategic Consulting, what is it you do at After Digital?
My job is to work with our client's to get the best out of their team's, their businesses, whilst ensuring the user gets exceptional experiences across the board. Digital is all pervasive, touches every part of an organisation, from finance to administration to HR to Sales and Marketing. It is, however, a mindset, it’s about using the right tool for the right job, and sometimes that isn’t a digital tool, sometimes that’s just a good old fashioned phone call or face to face meeting.
Describe an average day for you at AD.
As I said, no two days are the same, so I’ll give an example of two days!
Day One (Usually a Monday)
This day (like every day) starts around 7:00 am with a cuppa and my emails on my iPhone. My goal is always to try and get the humdrum and the necessary dealt with before I get to the office. Ideally, I have cleared my inbox by the time I leave the house for the train into work. Some days that can be one or two emails, others it can be 20+. If email replies are important I’ll draft them up first thing and then revisit them to polish and edit once I am into the swing of the day. This allows me to get to the office already ahead of the day.
Once at the office, there’ll be a number of internal meetings, external phone calls and, more often than not, at least one or two conference calls. There’ll be plenty of writing of reports, checking in on LinkedIn, planning of the week’s meetings, researching new companies and opportunities, reviewing contracts, work orders or getting into the guts of proposal writing in response to briefs for projects that are due.
There is always admin to do, be it raising invoices, booking travel and accommodation, completing sales forecasts or preparing for conference presentations, chairing sessions etc.
In essence, Monday is all about preparing for the week ahead.
Day Two (& pretty much every other day)
Any other day will consist of client calls, client meetings, sales meetings, proposals, pitching of ideas, a lot of travel, phone calls, perhaps they can be a full day of Digital Roadmap workshops or days of follow up report writing on major Digital Strategies and Digital Transformation consulting. I could be writing a blog, reading up on the latest thinking, discussing agendas for workshops in order to get the best outcomes for the sessions or devising workshop interactions to make them as fun and interactive as possible whilst gleaning the knowledge we need.
Never a dull moment.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I love the intellectual challenge of applying the knowledge and experience I have accumulated over 30 plus years in digital and business to solve the unique problems our clients have.
How do you unwind from your working day?
I set aside a minimum of half an hour for guitar practice every day, usually of an evening unless I am away from home on an overnight trip. I’ve been playing music since I was 6, and the discipline of practice is instilled in me, I try to apply it across everything I do, the more you practice the better you get. I also regularly perform live with my band Shardlake. I also try to cycle home at least twice a week where work allows. Physical health helps to promote mental health after all.
What advice would you give someone thinking about pursuing a career similar to yours?
Never lose the curiosity and drive to learn. Experience is worth a lot and has probably way more instrumental in getting me to this point than any degree. I have always had a strong desire to help people be better at what they do. That allied to multiple decades in digital Agencies and seizing opportunities to experience different cultures, operational setups and leadership thinking has provided me with this opportunity.
My career has been challenging, deeply satisfying, stressful at times and very very varied. I think it requires someone with an insatiable curiosity and probably a short attention span to do this job. It is not for the faint-hearted as you are often creating new ways of doing things and considerably out of your comfort zone.
If you like the status quo and knowing what the next day will bring then this is probably not the job for you. If you like change, challenge and stretching yourself constantly - well this is the place to be.