Typical 24: Martin Woolley, The Specialist Works

What do working professionals really do all day?

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Martin Woolley

Job title: CEO

Company: The Specialist Works

Location: London, UK

Years’ experience: scarily, 25+


  1. What time do you reach the office each day?
    I’m a morning person and love that quiet time before many people are in, so I aim for an 8am start.
  2. Is your job varied?
    Oh yes! TSW has specialisations in every type of media and creative from digital and mobile, to TV and DM. We are replicating our services in the US and key territories like Germany and China. I get under the skin of our clients’ businesses as well, which I really enjoy.
  3. Is your job creative?
    Massively so – but in the sense of business creativity rather than words and pictures. I need to think around problems and challenges and look for market opportunities constantly.
  4. What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
    No single thing, but the common thread is collaboration. I rely heavily on a very talented team with expertise in different disciplines. Hence a lot of meetings, video conferences etc
  5. Do you personalise your desk?
    One gorgeous selfie my daughter framed for me is my ‘personal’ touch, but the latest development is a stand-up desk. Another agency boss put me on to it and I’m busily recommending it to everyone!
  6. Would you describe yourself as creative?
    Yes – in the sense of business creativity.
  7. Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
    I drink way too much tea, so had instant boiling water taps installed. I have got the tea-making ritual down to about 8 seconds as a result!
  8. Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
    Collaboration is one of the most important words in our business. At TSW’s core is bringing together disparate skillsets like TV, mobile and digital and developing new ways of working. No one can be expert in all of these things, so we all spend our time collaborating constantly.
  9. How many hours on average do you work a day?
    Around 10 on an ‘average’ day, but more when I need to. I try to do a little less sometimes so I can spend time with family, but the opportunities don’t seem to come up that often.
  10. Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
    Those three things are most of my time. When I can I lock myself away to think or write.
  11. Do you use social media much for work?
    Linked In every day, Twitter less often.
  12. What do you enjoy most about your work?
    It’s an amazingly varied job. I learn more every day and I love that.
  13. What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
    I like the background buzz of a busy open-plan office..
  14. What do you do for lunch?
    Default is at my desk, reading and catching up on my inbox. Apart from tea, my other addiction is Pho Vietnamese chicken salad – it’s healthy and lovely, so I’ve learned how to type email replies whilst holding chopsticks.
  15. Do you socialise with work colleagues?
    Yes. As the company has grown, I’m not in the pub with everyone as often these days, but love our company nights out. TSW knows how to throw a party!
  16. Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
    Organising meetings and coordinating diaries. It’s so time consuming. When I first got a PA it felt like I had an extra hour each day.
  17. What is your last task of your day?
    Making sure I know where I am the next day and that I have everything I’ll need with me.
  18. How do you like to relax after work?
    At home with my family as much as possible. My teenagers will be flying the nest starting this year, so I want as much time with them as I can. It doesn’t mean they’ll spend their evenings with me of course, but I live in hope!
  19. Do you keep checking email through the evening?
    Yes, but I try and have a 9pm cut-off so I can get to sleep at nights!
  20. Do you take work projects home with you?
    Yes. If I need to think and write, my home office is the most conducive place to do it.
  21. What would you say to your 20-year old self?
    Stop working in big companies and find a fun, entrepreneurial place to call home. My career didn’t take off until I did, so I wish I’d done it sooner.
  22. If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
    Home Secretary. It seems like the hardest, most uncomfortable job imaginable full of tough decisions that someone will crucify you for whatever you decide. I’d love to try it for a day – as long as I can click my heels and come home afterwards!
  23. What device did you use to answer these questions?
    PC laptop with separate screen and keyboard.
  24. Do you use your own personal device for work?
    The company supply laptop & phone. I use my own iPad occasionally.