Typical 24: Ian James, Verve

What do working professionals really do all day?

IDG Connect is looking to speak to IT, business and marketing professionals across the spectrum to discover more about their very different, typical working days…


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Ian James

Job title: CEO International

Company: Verve

Location: London, UK

Years’ experience: 20 years


  1. What time do you reach the office each day?
    There’s no set time, it’s completely varied. I often head to meetings before I finally get to the office to see my team. It can be anything from 9am to 11am.
  2. Is your job varied?
    My job is extremely varied. I have such an exciting role. Leading my team of gurus into new markets is a challenge but a great one. Driving a business in a niche market means it’s paramount that I’m part of all business facets: sales, business development, product and operations and marketing. It’s vital I can bounce between each business lane as it not only helps me build a future for Verve, but it helps build a robust team.
  3. Is your job creative?
    It didn’t start creative but has certainly become creative. My strength lies within strategies and forecasting – picturing a goal and then determining what steps we need in order to get there. For a long time, early last year, it felt like a faraway vision, however with a really great team, this vision is becoming real. It’s enabling me to be creative through how we express the business externally – our story, our message, our vision. The Verve story is so unique to the market, but it’s wrapped up in a data heavy blanket – it’s paramount my team and I all think creatively.
  4. What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
    Chatting! I think it’s so important to be out meeting people and telling the Verve story. My week typically starts with some client and customer check-ins with our directors – planning, and strategising who we need to speak to and how. It’s about getting out there and educating the market. I very much believe in work hard and play hard. At the end of a working week, I enjoy spending time with my wife, kids and two dogs. A glass of wine always helps too.
  5. Do you personalise your desk?
    We’re very much a hot desking team, so personalising desks can be tricky. Being small and nimble, we’re out and about so often, that our office space tends to be a stopping point for an hour or two.
  6. Would you describe yourself as creative?
    Yes and no. I’m a very visual person. I like to picture something in its entirety and then craft out the ways in which to get there. I often need the help of others to make those visions come to life though. Ask me to do you a painting, however -  I’ll leave that with the experts.
  7. Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
    If I could, I would go for a swim every morning, but that never happens.
  8. Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
    It’s a real mixture, but I’d say majority is with others. I strongly believe two heads are better than one, and I thrive better bouncing ideas off those I trust.
  9. How many hours on average do you work a day?
    Tricky to say really. I’m always switched on at some point. I would say the only time I switch off is when I’m with the family. It’s so important to get the balance work and home.
  10. Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
    Quite a lot as I’m always out and about. Meetings and calls are where the majority of my time is spent.
  11. Do you use social media much for work?
    If I’m completely honest, I’m a little useless when it comes to social but I do use it briefly.
  12. What do you enjoy most about your work?
    Watching my team grow and business develop. It’s such a privilege to launch and grow a business in a new market, and building such a great team has been a massive highlight for me.
  13. What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
    As a group we seem to be pretty laid back – anything from the 70s, 80sand 90s. Occasionally we like a little bit of electronic.
  14. What do you do for lunch?
    I often go out for lunch. Soho House is a personal favourite, but I also love to sit with my team when we get some downtime in the office.
  15. Do you socialise with work colleagues?
    Yes, I’m a massive believer that you should socialise with colleagues. We try and put a team event in every quarter – a way for us all to say thanks and well done each other for what we’ve achieved but to let our hair down.
  16. Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
    I’m not the best at organising. My trusted Chief of Staff will vouch for that. Without him, I am completely lost!
  17. What is your last task of your day?
    Checking my emails. Once that’s done, I then firmly leave the phone on the side to sit with the family.
  18. How do you like to relax after work?
    Dinner with the family or a couple of drinks with my team.
  19. Do you keep checking email through the evening?
    Yes, I do. It’s a great way to keep a steady connection with what’s going on. However, when it’s family time, I put my phone away.
  20. Do you take work projects home with you?
    Sometimes yes. When we started out a year back, it was me and my COS at my dining room table hatching a UK and international launch plan. Now, we’ve built a mini empire in our very own office I like to keep as much work out of the home.
  21. What would you say to your 20-year old self?
    Trust your instincts and keep challenging the status quo. Most importantly though treat everyone you meet with respect and courtesy – opportunity can come from the most unexpected interactions.
  22. If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
    I would love to be a film director for a day. My hero is Ridley Scott – I’d love to step into his shoes for the day.
  23. What device did you use to answer these questions?
    My mobile.
  24. Do you use your own personal device for work?
    Yes. We give all employees a choice to have a specific work phone, but I much prefer one central device.