What I've Learnt: Liam Bateman, CTO at Silverchip

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Liam Bateman is CTO at Silverchip, a leading digital agency based in Manchester, which Liam founded alongside his business partner in 2008.

Liam has more than 15 years' worth of experience in digital, working alongside some of the country's leading organisations and developing a reputation with Silverchip as being at the top of their game. He is also a regular speaker at industry events, and judge for multiple awards.

Not content with just innovating with Silverchip, Liam also works alongside students and young people to provide opportunities and routes into the digital sector, based on his passion for giving students real-world skills in schools.

Silverchip is also the Lead Marketing Sponsor for this year's Digital City Festival, taking place on March 9th - 13th in Manchester. We sat down with Liam to find out the lessons he's learnt.

Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

Is it too clichéd to say coffee? It’s the only consistent part of my day, a coffee with my partner gets the day off to a great start.

What's been your luckiest break?

In a business sense, I try not to look at anything that has happened and put it down to luck, as soon as we do that we must also then account for being unlucky, and for me that removes responsibility and thus control. 

However, being born in this country at the start of the digital revolution, that feels pretty lucky! 

What's your best failure?

Almost shutting down Silverchip around 2014. We got complacent, took our eye off the basics and tried to grow too quickly. In hindsight, it was a great thing to happen and a much-needed wakeup call allowing us to reset and refocus on what was important. 

What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time?

Spending the time learning to program at an early age, it gave me the ability to build things that I wanted and to set up my current business. 

How would you describe your work/life balance?

As a business owner who is inherently passionate about what they do (I’m writing this on a Sunday in the office!), balance in the traditional sense is not black and white.

My life and work are not two separate entities but two things intertwined. I certainly don't finish work and then instantly switch off, however I’m surrounded by incredibly driven people who are like-minded and as flexible as I am, therefore the balance comes from compromise, priorities and having an incredible support network.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

So many books! I generally recommend ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ to most people looking for some personal development. Books tend to be impactful in different ways to different people, but this one came along at exactly the right time for me and had a huge impact on who I am today.

I could put a list of great books here; some books I’ve read (or listened to!) for hours to read one sentence that changed everything. 

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Do what you think is right, not what’s expected of you. 

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

I’ve had so so many great people influence my working life but the one that stands out would be Jonathan Fell; my manager and MD of a company I worked full-time at as a software developer.

He was the first person in my professional life that gave me the space to have an impact and run with ideas. He was a real no-nonsense doer and taught me a lot about sales and business. When I first set up and worked for myself, he helped me get going and was one of my first clients supporting me from day one.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I once made an ‘on screen’ appearance on BBC One’s ‘Short Change’ in 2001, after complaining about not getting a free CD from Kelloggs, despite sending all my vouchers off (first world problems!)! It’s fair to say, after spending a day in front of the cameras, I rarely complain about anything anymore. Clearly the 12-year-old version of myself had more time than I do now. 

What does success look like to you?

Success for me is about life and financial freedom. I love this industry, I love technology and I love what I do. I want to keep working on exciting projects, launching our own products and offering game changing results for our clients. 

I love and want to continue having the choice of which clients we work with and the freedom to dictate how I work and what my schedule looks like. 

Some of that is inevitably driven by financial goals but it’s always financial goals with a reason.