A Week in My Life: Kenny Skelton, Partner & Head of UK Google Practice, MediaCom
Kenny is a senior member of the MediaCom North team, leading the UK Google Practice - as well as being an accomplished abstract artist.
Until March he was the agency's Head of Digital, leading on the full digital strategy for MediaCom North, before the launch of the UK Google Practice. The 250-strong team of specialists is based at MediaCom North and provides services for clients across the Google ecosystem.
Skelton is an experienced digital professional, and prior to MediaCom was Digital, CRM and Insight Director for pub chain Greene King. He's also an abstract artist, creating conceptual pieces filled with emotion, light and dark.
We found out how a week in his working life looked...
Monday starts at 5:30am in the countryside - no rest for the wicked!
The sunlight comes beaming through the window and the birds kick off their usual morning choir. It’s time to head downstairs, grab the coffee beans and grind them, before making the strongest coffee I can muster.
It’s days like this I really miss our wonderful office barista Chris - the sound of the grinder at home is nowhere near a match for his chat and the background noise of Stone Roses classics.
Coffee in hand, I head out to feed Flossy the chicken, a beautiful and sassy Blue Orpington. She’s 10 years old, which for a chicken is pretty epic.
Mondays kick off with a stand-up with the Google Practice MDs, Nicola Marsh and Louis Georgiou, as we work through what’s happened since Friday. We then work through what’s on the agenda for the week.
We launched the UK’s largest Google Practice around a month ago, the culmination of many months of blood, sweat and tears shed by our fantastic team. It’s a real credit to their talent that we have been able to launch something that can carry such a big label.
Things have taken off just as we’d hoped and, as a result, we have a lot to work through this week. Fortunately, we have the fantastic skills of Louis to make sure we’re operating in the most agile way.
We then jump straight from our catch-up into the Google Practice leadership weekly meeting, where we hear from the Google Practice heads of product about what’s on their agenda, and how everyone needs supporting.
This afternoon we have a two-hour key client meeting where we’ve been bringing to life our growth plans for the year. These sessions have changed in recent years from talking about media planning to talking about first-party data, data and tech consultancy, and machine learning.
Where we used to have media planners, we now also have data activation consultants, ML engineers, data scientists and CRO strategists. It makes me realise how things continue to change in the media space; while it may be more complex, it’s also way more exciting.
Meeting finished and it’s time to log off and have some dinner before I grab some time in the studio.
I’m a man of many hobbies and one of my real passions is abstract art. Having never been remotely creative, I decided last year to give it a go, and have never looked back.
Fitness is a big part of my life; whether that’s running, cycling, strength training or swimming. Today’s is PT with my trainer James - he takes great satisfaction in me arriving ten minutes late by making me do a rather unpleasant round of squats and burpees.
Then it’s back home and time to do business... coffee in hand I’ll jump into the office and crack on with my day.
I have a quick 8:30am meeting with our Media Engineering partner Lisa Mundy, who is currently in the process of bringing our UK media engineering teams together into a single team.
9am and we’re straight into a pitch prep session. Having only worked agency-side for three years after working client-side, I’m always amazed by how intense the pitch process is. I’ve blocked out the entire day to work on it with the teams.
It’s a crazy rollercoaster that comes careering through your week; it brings with it equal measures of excitement and fear. The best part for me is the sense of camaraderie that you and the team working on the pitch have.
Today I’ll be working with Head of Product Ryan McKay and our two talented PPC leads, Claudia Ziegenbein and James Balmforth. The four of us connect on Teams and dig in for the long haul. We know it’s going to be a late one, but we don’t care because we’re a team - and everyone gets a Deliveroo voucher so no cooking tonight.
While James and Claudia set about creating the progressive search strategy, Ryan and I discuss how we want to bring it to life. This is crucial as in a world of high tech and machine learning it’s easy to bamboozle people, and for me that’s not how you help clients grasp concepts.
Working through dinner and into the evening we go backwards and forwards, discussing the strategy, reviewing the structure, diving into the ML story, and identifying the challenges we might encounter.
As much as it’s tiring, I’ve loved every minute of today. I sit with a cup of sleepy tea beaming with pride at just how talented the team I get to work with is.
Coffee made, chickens fed, fish fed, run done and it’s time to log on... since I’m missing Chris’s morning coffee mix, I blast The Stone Roses.
Today is going to be a busy day; one of the cool parts of the Google Practice for me is the data consultancy and advanced analytics.
We’re massively expanding, so have interviews lined up for Data Scientists and Data Engineers. It’s always a buzz when you get to talk to up-and-coming specialists who have an edge about what they want to do with tech.
The thing that I’ve been really inspired by is that we’ve seen two female Data Engineers; as a profession it’s largely been male-dominated, so I’m pleased we have not one but two women applying for the role.
Wednesday night is cooking night; one of my other passions is running a niche food blog on Instagram called ‘Naked Ninja Foodies’, for people who have Ninja devices. Tonight’s delight was a spatchcocked chicken glazed with honey and ‘Nduja.
Up at the crack of dawn again - no gym today as I have an action-packed, fun-filled day ahead.
Strong coffee made, the day kicks off with a whole team review of a pitch we have been finishing; we bring in all the other aspects of the pitch and everyone has a chance to run through their specific areas.
There’s an air of excitement and nervousness as each person brings their area to life. The team has done a great job. It's satisfying to see how it all comes together - the beauty of being the Google Practice is that we have no limits - the 360-degree nature of the new offering means we can really bring to life an exciting omni-channel programmatic story, and it looks great.
I take a walk into town for lunch - I live in a lovely village called Eccleshall with an amazing little bakery and coffee shop. Armed with a massive doughnut - which seems to have half a biscuit factory on it - I head back to my little home office.
The afternoon is spent making finishing touches to our pitch; the deck’s designed and roles defined, and we finish up at 5pm.
I head over to my sister’s to have dinner with her, the family and a rather over-familiar dog called Daisy, who as far as I’m concerned is more kangaroo than labradoodle.
I wake up at about 5am today. It’s pitch day - let’s do this!
This kicks off with a short call whereby the COO, Paul Cooper, reminds us all that we are tigers and to enjoy the process.
The pitch goes well. Personally I love pitching on Teams - while being a leader does require you to stand up in front of people a lot, it’s never stopped making me a bit nervous.
The great thing about Teams is you get to use a script which means you always remember the important things you want to say, and you never ramble or go over time.
It seems mad that just a year ago the concept of having regular meetings on Teams was an inconceivable prospect. The fact that we are now running multimillion-pound pitches, involving clients from around the world via the technology, is amazing.
We’re lucky enough to finish at 4pm on Friday, so after a relatively quiet day I grab some food before heading to the pub to wind down with a few beers.
I reflect on the week. It’s been fast and furious and a far cry from when I worked client-side. I am, however, lucky to work for MediaCom - I get to work with brilliant people; their knowledge and experience is astounding, and as a result it makes my job incredibly satisfying.