Spotlight on Ade Leader
Updated: Jul 16, 2021
Here at Spotlight, we had the chance to talk to Ade Leader, Director of Marketing at Jigsaw24. He spoke to us about his drive and determination and gave some great tips to those struggling with remote working.
Background – you and your business
Jigsaw24 has been around since 1992. It built much of its early success through providing Apple-based IT solutions to creative customers – the company became a go-to for design companies, marketing agencies, architects etc. More recently it has broadened both its offering and its customer base. Now, you’re as likely to find us providing managed services to the UK’s largest enterprises as you are to find us setting up the latest video and audio editing suites ready to edit next year’s blockbuster movies.
I’ve been at Jigsaw24 since 2009 and it’s safe to say I’ve grown with the business. Marketing was sort of an accidental career for me. I joined the business fresh out of university as a junior copywriter and quickly realised that I was too inquisitive to just write the words, so ended up mucking in with all kinds of marketing and design. Here I am nearly twelve years later still doing everything I can to muck in and push both our brand and our business to success.
The biggest challenge for me has definitely been finding the balance between the creative and commercial. The marketing setup that we have at Jigsaw24 means that the majority of our campaigns are produced in-house. It’s incredible because it means that from a brand perspective, everything that’s created by the team is absolutely top-notch. But that also means that everyone has to be quite well-versed in the commercials of the business that they perhaps wouldn’t need to if they were at an agency.
I’m through and through a creative at heart, but my role in the business has to be constantly rooted in commercial decisions. Finding that balance in myself, and helping others within the team understand the line between those two, can be a huge challenge. It’s those times when you know that giving a campaign an extra two weeks of development would make it creatively more refined but also won’t make much difference to the financial return, that you start to feel like you have a creative angel and a commercial devil on your shoulders. I’d like to think that I have found that balance now but there’s an element of objectivity to that decision that it took me a long time and a few different roles to work out.
What is an important initiative that you feel passionate about in your role?
Right now we have an initiative around socialising the company culture across the business. We have had a lot of investment in the last few years and the result of that has been lots of new faces. The marketing department also helps to handle internal communications and so we are working on finding ways to help better integrate colleagues who are new to the business. There’s been an added challenge with Covid-19 and I think it’s safe to say we are all looking forward to getting people back together – to properly meet the people we have been working with virtually.
Drive and determination
My drive and determination comes from my pride. There’s a real pride that comes with working at Jigsaw24, and it’s one that lots of people feel – a uniqueness to the business. For me, that pride comes not just from a feeling of belonging, but in seeing colleagues – people you genuinely care about – doing amazing work. The most exciting times in my role are when I see our creative team deliver something that perfectly hits the brief, and knowing that they will get recognition from people all over the business for doing a great job.
The biggest lesson that you’ve learnt along the way
I would be nowhere if it wasn’t for the people around me. I look back and realise just how little I knew for the first 6-9 months. I’ve had the absolute privilege to work with some incredible people over the years. I started learning on day one and I haven’t stopped since, because every single person I work with helps me develop. I’m currently surrounded by an amazing team of people from all walks of life who all bring integrity and an honesty to their roles that is so refreshing. Right now, the business feels more focused than ever with the best team it’s ever had.
Three tips to those starting their careers
Learn from everyone around you. You will never have the right answers unless you spend time listening and learning from everyone else’s right and wrong decisions.
Even the bad days can be good ones. Everyone has bad days, and it sounds very corny, but those really are the ones that you learn from. Developing in a career is never smooth sailing and every single knock-back can be used to help inspire future growth.
Get to know everyone. Whether it’s your closest colleagues or someone in a completely different department, take the time to speak to everyone in the business. It makes you feel good and, perhaps more importantly, it can help make them feel good.
Advice for people aiming for leadership positions
I was very lucky with my first manager at Jigsaw24. It’s only with hindsight that I can look back and realise just how much I learnt from her at the time. I can 100% say that I would not be in the role I’m in now without having listened to her all of those years. But like absolutely everyone in leadership roles, she had days where she was more stressed than others… As someone looking to go into a leadership position, find a way to empathise with your own managers and understand why they are perhaps not having the best day and what their stress factors are that week. Trust me when I say that, once you are in a leadership role, you’ll immediately recognise some of those behaviours and stresses in yourself and be better equipped to deal with them.
Advice for someone managing a team
As someone who worked alongside many of the people in the team and then became a manager I actually found that transition very difficult. Not only do you have to find a way to make a separation between strong friendships and being ‘the boss’, but you also have to find a way to have a similar dynamic with those new to the business as well as those you have worked with for many years. Whether you’re shifting into a manager role or are entering a new business to manage a team, the absolute best thing you can do is listen to people and remember you’re representing those individuals to the business just as much as you are representing the business to those individuals.
Top tips for businesses struggling with remote working
There’s a lot of talk about remote and hybrid working now. We are hearing it from our customers and are having those conversations ourselves. Obviously when Covid-19 first came about we all went remote, and that wasn’t a problem for us because we already had the infrastructure in place to cope with it. There are security and management concerns around remote working but all of them can be handled with the right solution in place.
For us now, we are looking to understand the sweet spot between remote and office working. A hybrid approach looks to be the way that many businesses are going, but the question is how, as a nation, we take that approach without losing the conversation and the collaboration that comes from in-person working. There are development and hr implications of remote working, and the best thing you can possibly do is listen to colleagues to find the right solution for your business because there’s definitely not going to be a one size fits all way of handling it.
The future for your business and what you are working on right now
As a business, we have always pushed ourselves. As we move into the next few years, there are huge plans to develop further in areas of our portfolio that are newer to the business. Our biggest goal as a business is to strike up a relationship with our customers, and we always want to be their first port of call for IT and IT services. The world has changed massively during the last 12 months, and so have the questions that our customers have been asking us, so it’s about anticipating that demand, staying at the cutting edge, and ultimately being there to help our customers focus on their day job rather than worrying about the tech underpinning it.