Typical 24: Liam Butler, SumTotal Systems

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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Liam Butler

  Job title: Sales Vice President, EMEA

  Company: SumTotal Systems

  Location: Reading, United Kingdom

  Years’ experience: 17



1.             What time do you reach the office each day?
I’m only in our offices around two days a week as my time is spent travelling and I occasionally work from my home office. I’m usually at my desk between 0730 and 0800 as I like to spend some time catching up before everyone else comes online. I’ve always been a morning person and start my day at around 0545 to have some quiet time to myself.



2.             Is your job varied?
Yes that’s one of the great things about my role. I run my life on to-do lists but rarely make it half way through as every day throws up new challenges.



3.             Is your job creative?
Yes, we’re always looking for solutions to help our clients and that’s what drew me into the software industry many years ago. I’m a practical problem solver and have always taken pleasure from finding innovative solutions to problems.



4.             What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
Talking and listening. As a leader of the business it is important for me to understand the issues that my colleagues are facing and how we can resolve them. A three minute chat is often the most efficient method rather than going back and forth over email.


5.             Do you personalise your desk?
No, I prefer my desk to be a work space with no distractions other than the job in hand.


6.             Would you describe yourself as creative?
In a practical sense I’m creative in that I will often look for a work around or creative solution to a problem.


7.             Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
Yes, ever since I starting wearing an Apple Watch I’m obsessed with standing up so now I make most of my calls standing.


8.             Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
I prefer working with my colleagues but a necessary part of my role requires detailed planning and that is best done alone with no distractions.


9.             How many hours on average do you work a day?
My average working day is around 11 hours. However, when I’m travelling it can be considerably longer.


10.         Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
Interesting question. I’ve never tracked the time I spend on each activity. I know email consumes too much of my time but I suspect I’m no different to most people.


11.         Do you use social media much for work?
Yes, I use LinkedIn daily for networking, industry forums and recruiting.


12.         What do you enjoy most about your work?
I like the variety in my role and the fact that I can quantify the impact I make to the company.


13.         What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
I don’t listen to music at work.


14.         What do you do for lunch?
We’ve a great café at the bottom of our building and they’ve a salad bar that I’m a regular at.


15.         Do you socialise with work colleagues?
Yes, usually when we’re travelling overseas we’ll have dinner together.


16.         Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
I was very relieved when I had an office admin who used to do my expenses which is something I’ve always disliked doing. However, I’ve gone backwards as I’m now doing my own expenses again!


17.         What is your last task of your day?
I make a to-do list for the next day. It helps me unwind knowing that I’ve a plan for tomorrow.


18.         How do you like to relax after work?
My family help me unwind and keep me grounded. In what little free time I do have, I like to go trail running on the South Downs and occasionally if it’s not too rough I go kayaking and pretend to catch fish in the sea off Hove beach.


19.         Do you keep checking email through the evening?
No, I work long hours already which I don’t mind doing but the flip side is when I finish work the laptop is shut and the phone is off. I’m strong believer in switching off.


20.         Do you take work projects home with you?
Yes, but when I’m finished I’ll switch off. We’re in a deadline driven business so it’s inevitable that you’ll have to work unsocial hours regularly. The upside to this is that I can control when and where I work and I like that flexibility.


21.         What would you say to your 20-year old self?
Enjoy it. It’s not going to last.


22.         If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
I’ve always wanted to be on a lifeboat for a day. The local lifeboat station in Shoreham has a Tamar Class boat that looks amazing when it launches. I’m not sure that middle aged software guys are what they looking for though.


23.         What device did you use to answer these questions?
My laptop.


24.         Do you use your own personal device for work?
No, we’re all issued with company iPhones with additional security features. I have a personal iPhone that I use for all non-work calls, I like having the separation between my work and personal life.