What I've Learnt: Anwar Sultan, Chief Digital and Strategy Officer, Ello Group

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

Anwar Sultan leads on digital and strategy at Ello Group, which provides acquisition, engagement and loyalty schemes for brands.

Sultan was formerly Chief Marketing Officer at the Manchester-based organisation, which is soon to be formed from the rebrand of The Dining Club Group, and works alongside consumer brands like Compare the Market and Vue.

He previously held high-profile roles including Global Marketing Director at The Hut Group, and agency-side as Client Director at Summit.

We found out the lessons he's learnt...


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

I always create time in my day to look forward to the next two weeks as it allows me to reassess and reposition my priorities to ensure I am fulfilling the longer-term strategies of the business. My daily coffee is integral to this practice so I couldn't live without that! 

What's been your luckiest break? 

It sounds clichéd but I don’t believe in luck. Nothing in this world exists without intention and I believe that if you have the intention to achieve your aspirations and you work hard you can reach those goals - and go above and beyond!

What's your best failure?

Again, I don’t look at best versus worst failures as I have trained myself, over a period of time, to look at any experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. I would, however, say that in terms of failure in a sense, I am trying to teach myself to not always take everything on myself, and to build the best and right team around me to help me achieve those goals.

If we “fail” a few times - we will get back up again and do it better!

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

I think one of the best investments is the time that you put into your health, both physically and mentally. We have always known the importance of a strong mind and body and I think COVID just re-iterated its importance.

Our health is everything to us both personally and professionally, so I think it is of paramount importance to ensure we give our mind and body the time to rest, reset and grow stronger.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

I would have to choose a Muhammad Ali biography - there are many, but the theme is the same. The books tell his story and portray him as an individual who is getting over adversity and challenges through determination, hard work, resilience and self-belief - he is truly a role model in my eyes! 

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

I would certainly tell myself to remember to live in the moment. Learn to stop, reflect and celebrate all of life’s wins and successes. It is easy in a fast-paced environment to move on to the next challenge without actually registering what you have achieved and how far you have come! I have to be true to myself and also say I would ask my 21-year-old self to be better at saving money and curb my spending habits a little earlier! 

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

This is an important question for me, and having reflected on this point it is really easy to say that it is people.

People both inspire me and impress me every day. As an individual that feeds off others’ energy for inspiration and motivation, it is always so important to ensure you have the right people around you, because people's behaviour or energy is infectious - both good and bad. I go back to my original point of building the best team to both complement each other's strengths and weaknesses, and achieve success. 

Tell us something about you that would surprise people. 

This will definitely come as a surprise to most people but in my 20’s I used to DJ all over the country two to four nights a week! I have always had a love of music and find myself always being able to find the perfect song for the situation. 

How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?

The pandemic has really changed the way businesses operate, with many forced to pivot to ensure they remain agile. Not only to survive, but to thrive in the new climate we’re operating in. 

While some have transitioned their workforces to remote for the foreseeable, and others have welcomed their teams back to the office full-time, many have adopted a hybrid approach, enabling their employees to manage their work-life balance more effectively, take a more flexible approach to working, have more autonomy, and save on the cost of commuting, among other things. 

Working from home can, however, be isolating for some people so ensuring your internal comms strategy goes above and beyond is crucial, while maintaining regular social check-ins. Effective communication really is absolutely essential for a people-centric culture and thriving workforce, especially in a remote/hybrid world.

The past 18 months have also enabled businesses to really look at their offering, explore evolving consumer behaviours and adapt accordingly.

What does success look like to you?

I have both personal and professional goals to achieve, both interlinking, but my key areas are to achieve my professional, health and family goals. I would like to be able to look back on my life and say that I made a positive impact on both the people and businesses around me, and more so a positive impact on the world around me in some way. It’s a big task but I am certainly up for the challenge! 

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