Human Resources

CMO Files: Phil Worms, CMO, iomart Group plc.

Get inside the mind of the world's top marketing professionals. In 20 questions we find out what they love most about their job, what their biggest achievements are... and what keeps them awake at night. Read 'The CMO Files'...

Name:  Phil Worms

Organisation: iomart Group plc

Job title: Chief Marketing Officer

Location: Glasgow, Scotland




(1)      Where were you born and raised?

London, England 

(2)      What was your first job?

Doing a paper round aged 13. Fortunately, I have been gainfully employed ever since.

(3)      What was the first product you got really excited about?   

It was the summer of 1979, disco was fading and the airwaves were filled with the explosive sound of post-punk British music from the likes of The Clash and The Jam. I listened to it all on my Sony Walkman TPS-L2 which I had worked two extra paper rounds to save up for. I still have it, it still works perfectly and whenever I hear a track from that era, I get misty eyed as I remember those days of winding the tape back into the cassette with a pencil.

(4)      Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

No one single influence, although the owners of the newsagents where I first worked, with their “open all hours in all weathers” attitude, pretty much demonstrated to me the work ethic which I have carried with me throughout my career. I have always felt that SMB owners really are the true heroes of the commercial world.

(5)      What has been your greatest achievement?

Waking up each morning with a smile! Hopefully, I have still to experience my greatest achievement but to date I look back fondly on initiating the first UK-wide marketing campaign for broadband with iomart, and on a personal level, walking the 33 miles through the Channel Tunnel to celebrate its opening.

(6)      What has been your biggest mistake?

There have been far too many for any single one to stand out, but every one of them has been used as a learning opportunity.

(7)      What is your greatest strength?

Despite being male, I have always been able to multi-task effectively. Plate spinning is a speciality.

(8)      What is your biggest weakness?

At times I can be too polite and patient. I am secretly envious of people who can kill a meeting with a withering put down.  

(9)      What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers? 

We are in danger of killing the golden goose. We all appreciate that data is the new oil and the internet is our pipeline but we must think smarter and be more aware of the impact that poor marketing and data collection can have. If we persist in asking 30 questions before allowing someone to download a PDF from our web sites, we will end up alienating people, creating a culture of distrust and avoidance.

(10)  Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?

I have always felt that great quotes resonate more when taken in the context of the moment they were said. A recent example came from Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas after his road race gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where iomart is headquartered. He said: “Good things come to those that wait; better things come to those that don't give up; and the best things come to those who just believe.” A powerful quote when you know the background – this is the man who rode the 2013 Tour de France with a fractured pelvis in order to help teammate Chris Froome win. Much more thought-provoking than the ‘inspiring’ teamwork quotes regularly circulated on social media.

Apart from that, anyone who starts an email with ‘Just circling back’ deserves to have it deleted instantly.

(11)  What makes you stressed?

Completing questionnaires and realising that my witty and pithy answers are quite the reverse (also see the answer to Q 12).

(12)  What do you do to relax?

I’m currently leading a charitable campaign to create a Digital Entertainment & Skills Centre in the town of Helensburgh in Scotland, which is the birthplace of TV pioneer John Logie Baird. We need a new generation of digital content creators and yet a major issue facing us in Scotland is the dramatic decline in the numbers of young people taking IT related subjects in further education. The Centre will allow young people to learn programming, video and content creation. Importantly it will cut across age barriers by encouraging them to engage with older generations around the topic of IT, leading to an atmosphere of inclusion, value and respect. Hopefully we can secure the funds so the town that gave the world the Father of Television can spark a new digital transformation and then, finally, I will be able to relax.

(13)  What is your favourite song?

It depends on mood and memories, but if pushed it would be ‘What’s Going On?’ by Marvin Gaye. It’s become a timeless spiritual anthem, but has a fascinating back story. Born out of personal loss and grief, set against the backdrop of Vietnam, blocked by Motown, it was accidently released becoming a chart sensation, paving the way for one of the greatest albums ever recorded. 

(14)  Which book taught you most?

“Practical Cookery” by Victor Ceserani, Ronald Kinton. The ‘bible’ at the catering college I attended and the one book I still refer to regularly. I’ve never had a Yorkshire pudding or sponge cake sink on me in 30 years.

(15)  Do you have a team or sport that you follow?

I was born within half of mile of Arsenal FC into a family of “Gooners” (the nickname for Arsenal fans).  My grandfather took me to my first match in 1971, aged 8. I stood on the North Bank amongst the hordes of red and white, fell instantly in love with the opposing team and have passionately supported Chelsea ever since. My family have never forgiven me.

(16)  Which country would you like to work in?

The great thing about technology is that geography and physical boundaries no longer matter. If I want to work effectively from a beach in Croatia or a café in Venice for a few days I can. That stated, I really have no desire to leave Scotland. I go from my desk in the city, to stunning mountains and lochs in less than 30 minutes.

(17)  Which company do you think has the best marketing?

I have always had a soft spot for A.G. Barr, makers of the iconic soft drink Irn-Bru. Their campaigns beautifully capture the mood of the Scottish nation, as evidenced at this year’s Commonwealth Games. From the ‘chest thumping celebration’ of the host nation’s medal-winning athletes to a self-deprecating advert featuring Team Scotland’s much-maligned tartan kits, they have been the stand-out brand. And you’d have to be an Englishman in Scotland to truly appreciate the genius of their “1966 Campaign.”

From a tech perspective, I am always in awe of Apple. They have created a cool, must-have brand that hardly needs marketing any more.

(18)  What do you love most about your job?

Working in such a dynamic industry. Could anyone really have predicted the influence that technology would have on our daily lives in little over a decade? On a personal level at iomart, I have always loved the fact that we maintain an entrepreneurial, almost start-up approach within a mature PLC.

(19)  What is your favourite book?

I owe a real debt of gratitude to The Belgariad series by David Eddings. I was never a big consumer of books in my youth until I picked up a copy of the Pawn of Prophecy, the first in the series. I have been an avid reader ever since.

(20)  What keeps you awake at night?

Fortunately nothing. I am one of those irritating people that only needs 5 or 6 hours sleep per night so I make the most of them. 


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