A Week in My Life: Simon Delaney, CEO at Databowl

David Prior's picture
by David Prior

It's the turn of Simon Delaney, CEO at Databowl, to take us through a week in his working life. To suggest another senior media or creative figure for A Week In My Life, please email david@prolificnorth.co.uk.

Monday 21st May

I’m awoken by my alarm clark… and by alarm clock I mean my 12-week-old daughter. Sleeping in may be a thing of the past but I doubt I’ll ever find a better inspiration to get up and work hard!

I find life at a cutting-edge tech company fast paced and exciting. I still enjoy throwing myself into all aspects of every day work, but this means two days are never the same. To get an idea of the bigger picture you need to get involved with everything - the details I suppose - and that is what I’m doing today.

I look at plans for the week then help the sales and marketing teams before taking a meeting with our UX/UI designer Cory. We refer to this weekly meeting as our HoP - Hour of Power! The brief for this is always the same… making incredibly powerful and complex software very simple to use! We simultaneously have two meetings, one where we discuss current user experience and one where we discuss future user experience. My job often involves splitting things into present and future work, and at Databowl we’re always looking to the future.

I jump on a demo to a prospect, which in turn gives an idea for a feature, which in turn I add to our development task board. As I say, I like to be really involved in all aspects of the company. We only employ the very best at Databowl - experts in their respective fields - which in turn mean every one always has to be at the top of their game to keep up!

It’s almost midnight and I get a notification that one of our Australian clients are asking for support on our Intercom. I sit in bed and make sure they’re all sorted… and then I can sleep!

Tuesday 22nd May

Conference call with the channel manager of one of our blue chip clients. Our last meeting was in Barcelona (we all just liked the idea of combining a work meeting with El Classico!).

Today we discuss the following:

  • New Data model we are working on
  • Dynamic pricing on live leads
  • I confess to him we reached a point in the evening after El Classico where we were giving him non-alcoholic beer.

I then have a meeting with our CTO Tom. We discuss every aspect of future development. Again I feel like I’m split in two, running the present company and the company of the future… It’s a constant battle between what we offer now, and what I know we will offer the world shortly. I find this both frustrating and incredibly exciting at the same time.

Wednesday 23rd May

Databowl’s head office is based in Kelham Island, Sheffield. On my way into work I strike up a conversation with a local artist I often see. He tells me the mural he is working on is inspired by the history of Kelham Island - a place that once was home to the best steel workers in the world.

It gets me thinking about the location. I love the idea that the people who worked here, who worked in our very offices - were the very best in the world at what they did. They were specialists with the highest skills. It’s incredibly inspiring, and though that industry has largely closed down, I love the idea that the area can use their stories as motivation. I suppose what I want to say is: inspired by the past we can look to the future. We can write our own story. I send an e-mail to the artist I saw and see if I can get him in to try and incorporate his work into our office as a source of constant inspiration.

I stay at the office very late today, waiting to take a call from a client in San Francisco. (One of the joys of being eight hours ahead of Silicon Valley is I’m often at the office well after closing time!) I spend this time planning a speech I’m due to give tomorrow for our quarterly GM.

Thursday 24th May

Today I’m at Alton Towers. The entire company are! Every quarter we have a meeting in a location chosen by one member of staff, and today sees us hopping on adrenaline-pumping rides. For more reasons than one, the theme of today turns out to be FEAR. Now I could list what rides I went on, but why would you care? Instead, I’ll talk about a conversation I overheard between two (unnamed) members of staff. One was scared of going on a ride and the other convinced them to just go for it. Once they went on it turned out they loved it and wanted to go on a second time. They overcame their fear for the better.

I face a similar problem before giving my speech to the company. This may go against typical CEO traits, but I don’t mind admitting that I’m not the most confident public speaker. I like to think I have lots of strengths, this just isn’t one.

Luckily, I don’t really need to give an inspiring speech. It’s more a case of “This is where we are and this is where we’re going”. We’ve been sure to only employ people who are genuinely passionate about what we do and excited about what we can go on to do. I think “Passion” is the number one trait I personally look for in prospective employees. If you’re not passionate about what you do then you should probably be doing something else!

As I lie in the hotel bed I begin thinking about how fear prevents us from doing things that might be amazing for us. I wonder if I can tap into this, somehow. I know companies are often scared of change, especially when it comes to new software… I just need to find a way to get them past the fear in order to focus on the benefits!

Friday 25th May

We get the coach back to the office, all slightly hungover, then remember today is GDPR DAY!

I’m joking (well not about being hungover), but about what we need to do. We’ve already ensured that we, and our clients, are all GDPR Compliant. I respond to occasional e-mails and phone calls of panic and inform various industry peers they needn’t worry. It’s more a case of steadily easing the ship in at this point. Once that’s all taken care of I slip off to our new AI Department, SKUNKWORX.

Yesterday’s trip to Alton Towers was organised by Skunkworx, basically because we all wanted to try the new VR ride there. (Something that was both fun and related to what we are doing). We end up talking about the Simulation Hypothesis. Things like this aways fascinate me. I can’t be sure that we’re not in a simulated universe. I can’t be sure that a super computer didn’t create everything. We then begin to question if it’s possible that, being a tech company, we created the computer that consequently ran the simulation, and that we are now approaching the start/end of the simulation and consequently the world? I tend to have a conversation like this every time I head to the AI Department! I then decide it’s probably time for the weekend…

My week ends just as it began, spending time with my family.