What I've Learnt: Malcolm Seagrave, Managing Director in the North at AND Digital
Malcolm Seagrave has only been with AND Digital since the beginning of last year, but has already made a huge impact.
AND Digital accelerates the digital capabilities of ambitious organisations, and in his year-and-a-half at the company Malcolm has forged partnerships with leading organisations including Covéa Insurance, TalkTalk and Matalan.
As Managing Director in the North, he leads the regional strategy. They already have successful offices - which they call clubs - in London, Manchester, Leeds and Maidenhead, and with another club recently opened in the heart of Halifax, they'll bring more than 100 jobs to West Yorkshire.
We sat down with Malcolm to find out what motivates him.
Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?
Can I have two? First, as a chartered accountant in a previous life, I’m all over numbers. I’ve seen so many companies fail because they don’t keep an eye on them.
Second, investing in my network. You’ll find this is a theme in my answers. Every day, I make sure I invest in my network, be it through calls, social media, mentoring people or meetups.
The old adage is true: you get out what you put in, and with even just a little effort, it really is amazing just how much you get back from your peers and community.
What’s been your luckiest break?
My first job with a big investment bank - it sounds obvious, but it was my luckiest break for an unusual reason. It taught me very early on that money is the least important thing, and to go after roles I’m passionate about. Ever since, I’ve been very selective about the roles I have taken.
What’s your best failure?
At a company early on in my career, I went a little rogue and sold a business plan to a major retailer.
Safe to say people weren’t happy at first, and it wasn’t easy - but senior management soon saw the opportunity and amazingly, the team made it happen. It’s a great success and failure at the same time. It turned a £2 million business into a £50 million business, but I learnt the importance of managing your stakeholders.
To this day, if I believe in something I’ll pursue it. What I’ve learned is to temper this left-field entrepreneurial drive with a focus on bringing key people on the journey with me. Making great ideas a reality requires great teams.
What is the best investment you’ve ever made, either financial or time?
My network (again), as it’s rewarding personally and professionally. Personally, I’m currently mentoring 12 people, as well as various startups. Professionally, my network helps me provide AND’s clients with even more: connecting them with other great professionals, for instance, like executive coaches and senior executives.
How would you describe your work/life balance?
In all honesty, Monday to Friday is all work for me, but I’m lucky that I love my job and find it massively rewarding. It’s amazing to me that we opened AND’s first Club in the North in early 2018, and that we'll have over 300 people in the North by 2020 across three Clubhouses in Manchester, Leeds and Halifax.
However, I do make sure I’m there at the end of the day to see my children, and I never work at the weekend - I’d leave any company that expects this.
Which book would you recommend others to read and why?
I’ve read a lot of business books, but I always come back to one: 'Business Model Generation'. I’ve used it time and time again in meetings as a starting point to help people think differently. It’s easy to read, has some amazing case studies and people just get it.
What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Choose the work you want to do and worry less about the money. Make sure you don’t stay in a job you’re not happy in. There are so many opportunities out there, so you just need to take that leap of faith and jump.
Life's too short, and work is an essential part, so be happy first.
Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?
Without a doubt, my dad. My parents got divorced when I was young and it was my dad who had sole custody of me and my siblings.
Back then, it was almost unheard of for a father to get custody, but that didn’t faze him. He taught me the importance of a strong work ethic, to take risks, how to be resilient, respect others, and to do it all with a smile on your face. I know he would be very proud of the approach AND takes, for our people, customers and communities.
Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
As a youngster, I was in a video for a song that made it to number one. The team is still trying to work out which one, but my lips are sealed. Here’s a clue: I did have some nice dance moves!
What does success look like to you?
My views today are very different from 20 years ago. Before, it would have been around having a ‘successful’ career, but now it’s about creating a real impact.
Not every company has a positive impact, but AND truly does. We’re creating jobs, adding value to our local community, and helping both individuals and organisations to grow. It’s so rewarding to see our clients building their digital capabilities, and to see people’s skills and careers progress at AND.