Highlights from the Young Directors’ Conference

Torsten Schuppe, Marketing Director UK and Ireland at GoogleTuesday 25 May
Lowry Hotel, Manchester

There was a true air of optimism and entrepreneurialism at the inaugural Young Directors’ Conference. Aimed at supporting the leading directors of today, the event was attended by many of the Young Directors’ Forum members across the country, to hear from and question a host of speakers in a variety of different business sectors.

The clear theme of the day was innovation, with a great line up of speakers and seminars for the delegates to learn from. Highlights and insights from the day included:

Torsten Schuppe, Marketing Director UK and Ireland at Google
Providing insights into the culture at Google, Torsten highlighted three main points:

  • ‘Dog Fooding’ – Google only use the products that they have created, including their cloud computing products. This not only enables them to gain feedback on the products at the gamma stage of testing so that they can further improve them prior to release, but also ensures that all employees are living and breathing the organisation’s products.
  • Meeting culture – Everyone brings their laptops to meetings. This enables them to work during the meeting and even action some of the points from the meeting before they have got back to their desk. They also use the latest video technology so that they can see the presentation and presenter at the same time, this helps them in communicating with other parts of the business across the world.
  • Time to develop – To bring about innovation, engineers are encouraged to spend 20 per cent of their time to work on chosen projects. This has enabled much innovation across the company and produced elements such as Google maps.

Katherine Corich, Founder and Group CEO of Sysdoc
Highlighted three key messages to the audience:

  • Businesses must integrate with the social agenda. It is important that we all take the things that make us mad and change them.
  • There are 4.8 million SMEs in the UK. It is important that they are supported, as they are the lifeblood of the UK economy.
  • It is important to increase diversity in the workplace. Investigate new models of working, be flexible, businesses don’t need to stick to the Victorian hours of 9-5. Embrace diversity and you could see a positive impact on your business as it will bring more value than cost.

Steve Elworthy, Tournament Director of the Cricket World Twenty20 Championship
Steve highlighted the importance of a network and knowing who the key players are within it. He also gave examples of how one size never fits all, having a model flexible enough to deal with the unexpected, and how to change your marketing to suit your audience particularly with understanding local communities and authorities that can affect you.

Colonel Charlie Stickland OBE, Royal Marines, former Commanding Officer of 42 Commando
Experienced in leading a large team in a complex situation, Colonel Charlie Stickland explained to the delegates some of his thoughts around leadership:

‘You make your own luck and you must be responsible for your output,’. When detailing how important it is to ensure that the whole team communicates properly in order to achieve the desired outcome, he said, ‘technology is great but human contact is invaluable’.

  • Infectious inclusivity – Explain to the team what you are doing, why you did it and why you have made the decision. These details help to develop the team into the leaders you want them to be and enable the team to make the right decisions even when you are not there. Start very detailed and scale back as trust increases. By involving your team in discursive decision-making processes when you have to make a snap decision, your team will respond appropriately.
  • Empower your trusted people to be your conscience and trust your judgement to tell you when you might be wrong.

Tim Bean, International Physique Specialist and Co-Founder of The Institute of Physique Management
Tim told attendees how looking after themselves means they are looking after their business. ‘Anything you ever do from the neck up is totally dependent on everything you do from the neck down’. He went on to say ‘Look after yourself today as it will affect you in the future’, if you look after your physique you are looking after your brain ‘your body is your vehicle for life after all’.

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