Steven Montgomery is the recently-appointed Managing Director of French smart home company Somfy.
Based at the company’s Leeds HQ, Steven shares what a week in his working life is all about…
My alarm is set for 5:50am every day, but more often than not I am awake before this! My first port of call is the shower, and when I sold books door to door in the USA as a student, it was actually company policy to have a cold shower first thing! I’ve graduated to more temperate showers these days, but it definitely taught me the value in spring-boarding yourself into the day.
I’m not a breakfast person at all, and I’m almost always the first person awake, so it’s no surprise today that I’m in the car 15-20 mins after my feet first hit the floor. My commute is 1hr 10mins, and whilst a lot of people can see this as a massive inconvenience, I find this time very valuable. I usually put some music, an audiobook or a podcast on in the car, but I often find that by the time I reach work I haven’t heard much of whatever is playing. This is the time where I do my prioritising and planning.
My first stop when I’m in the office is the kettle for the first dose of Yorkshire Tea (a must when your HQ is in Leeds). Next, I review the orders from the previous day and sit down and look at our performance, this first hour when no one else is in the office gives me a real chance to keep on top of things, and also allows me to focus on the team where needed throughout the rest of the working day.
Monday is usually built up by a number of meetings across team members and discussing different strategies and opportunities that we are working on, and today is no exception. I always try and save my phone calls during the course of the day for my drive home, when I leave the office at 4pm. This also ensures that I get home in time for homework and bedtime with my two kids, Hunter and Winter. This really is the highlight of my day!
After the kids are asleep there’s time to watch one episode of something on TV. My wife and I don’t tend to watch anything we care too much about in the week because we’re usually asleep by the time the opening credits have finished! Today is no exception.
Another early start but this time on I’m the way to collect a colleague from marketing, rather than heading straight to the office. We’re going to see a key customer about an exciting new strategy, which we’ve both independently concluded is the way forward in approaching automated shading in buildings.
I usually like to travel by train, but the car is valuable today in allowing me to spend some time with my colleague discussing various strategies. I really value one-to-one exchanges with people from different disciplines within the business; it’s how you really get under the skin of how the organisation is operating, and I believe that everyone, from every level, can offer useful insights which help us improve.
Today’s timetable means I can get home in time to cook the dinner for the family. The kitchen is my favourite part of the house. I love to cook. Recently I had a change of diet to a healthier approach so I’m enjoying exploring tasty meals that are also good for you. Tonight, it’s Mediterranean chicken orzo – delicious!
It’s back to the 5:50am wake-up call today, and I get to the office around 7:15am. Today is a shorter day in the office as my wife is working a night shift tonight as a midwife in the hospital. As in all working families, it’s a juggling act!
I’m lucky to work in a role where we’re able to be flexible about my time in office, and I actually enjoy a little time pressure on days like this too. It focuses the mind, and means I try to get a full day’s work done in a little less time. Today my priority is further analysis on the budgets for 2020 and how we turn them into a solid business plan. Somfy is an ambitious business and we have our eyes on growth in a number of areas. It’s vital, of course, to underpin those plans with a concrete strategy.
One of our team members in the office has done the work to organise a Macmillan coffee morning for Friday. I set aside some time to go around the office and promote the event – though I’m also definitely fishing to find out which cakes we’re likely to be scoffing at the end of the week!
I leave the office at 4:00pm and am straight onto phone calls as soon as I’m in the car. When I reach home, my wife and I do the metaphorical passing of the baton and it’s into bath and bedtime for the kids.
My wife being on night shift presents me with the opportunity to indulge in some TV that she would never watch. This week I’m watching a Netflix documentary series on the mind, and tonight’s episode is about mindfulness. I’ve begun to explore this recently as it helps with managing my approach during the day.
I’ve woken up early today and decided to take my dog – a Dalmatian – for a walk before setting off for work. But would you believe he has gotten so used to me leaving at this time (and I suspect he is occupying my space after I leave), that he won’t even come downstairs! With a little extra time, then, it’s a rare chance to have a cup of tea before setting off for the day.
Today we have six colleagues from our product management team in Hoofddorp arriving to hold a product training day. It’s a valuable chance for us to get to know the exciting products we will launch in 2020.
We have some fantastic products presented to us, including our own thermostatic radiator valve that integrates with our smart home hub, Tahoma. We get a review of how well our new Lithium-Ion embedded battery motors are doing in the blinds market, they’ve been well received and we have an exciting new motor coming in early 2020 which will be able to motorise the industry-standard 32mm tube on which roller blinds are fitted. As ever, it’s great to be working for a company that’s so focused on innovation and development.
We round off the product session a little early, so we start our sales meeting. Normally we have a two-day meeting but we condensed it into one morning to make space for the product day so the additional hour this afternoon is a welcome extra! Normally I would stay in a hotel with the team tonight and we would spend the evening having a meal and just a few beers. However, tomorrow is my birthday and I’ve decided it’s best to wake up at home.
5.50am – the alarm goes off and up I get again. It’s only as I come out the bathroom and my wife groans happy birthday without opening her eyes that I realise a) it’s my birthday and b) it was an error in judgement thinking it would be best to be at home this morning, as I’m off and out of the door before anyone else is awake.
In the office, the sales teams appear on time and we kick off our meeting. It always good to be able to share our success; we’ve had a great year and it’s mostly down to the people in the room. The best part of the job for me is stopping to dwell on that success for a minute; we don’t do it enough in life in general. It’s also a valuable chance to pull out some best practice and share it around the room – it’s a celebration of an individual’s achievements and a great bit of team development in one.
This is also the best time to share the budget for next year with the team. They can see why we have incorporated strong growth in our plan for 2020 based in part on what they have delivered already this year. We round off with an introduction to our new customer service manager. Helen has been with us for a few weeks and has settled in well; she shares some of the intense training she has been going through.
At lunchtime, we close the meeting so that the team can get on the road. Lunch itself is a rare chance for me to catch up with some of the guys who live further afield from the office. We have a quick chat over a bacon buttie then it’s back to my office to round things off before the birthday celebrations.
When I get home, there are singing kids as I get through the door and a pile of presents. My wife has done a great job of finding some meaningful gifts. As soon as they are open, we back out of the door for a family meal in a local restaurant followed by a disco in our kitchen. Nothing has made me feel older today than the songs my kids ask for!