Human Resources

Typical 24: Justin Pirie, Cloud Strategist, Mimecast

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...


  Name: Justin Pirie

  Job title:  Cloud Strategist

  Company:  Mimecast

  Location: San Francisco, CA

  Years’ experience: 14


What time do you reach the office each day?
I try to be in the office around 9am every day, but that depends how many calls and emails I take from London and Boston before I leave. Working with people who are 8 and 5 hours ahead of you means there’s little opportunity for collaboration apart from very early in the morning, so I like to jump on email and calls as early as I can before heading to the office.

Is your job varied?
Working in a high growth company like Mimecast, every day is different and brings its unique challenges - which I greatly enjoy solving. I don’t enjoy repetition or process and working for high growth companies enables you to really challenge yourself every day.

Is your job creative?
Absolutely. We’re always looking for creative solutions to the opportunities that present themselves, challenging ourselves to get the best outcomes given the constraints we’re working with as a high growth tech company.

What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
I spend the majority of my time communicating with people – mostly via email but also in person and on calls. I talk to customers, prospects, partners and staff to help them better understand Mimecast; what we do, why we do it and how we do it.

Do you personalise your desk?
Of course! I have lots of photos up from various travels and interests, but my favorite is the photo I took of a Porsche 356 at the Monterey Classics races. I think the 356 is the most beautiful mass production car ever made and I’d love to own one. We spend so much time at work – I think it’s really important to bring your personality and interests to your work environment.

Would you describe yourself as creative?
I’m no artist, but I really enjoy thinking about creative solutions to challenges we’re presented.

Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
I think some people consider cycling to work as a rather quirky ritual. I love it because it completely clears my head as I concentrate on not getting run over in the San Francisco traffic and arrive to the office motivated and refreshed.

Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
My role is incredibly collaborative – I collaborate with people all over the world, every day.

How many hours on average do you work a day?
That’s a hard one to measure. Typically I’m in the office 9.00-6.00 every day, but I check email from 7ish and in the evening until I go to bed. I’m sure it adds up but it doesn’t feel arduous.

Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
I’m really fortunate that in my role at the moment I spend the majority of my day not in meetings and calls, enabling me to be very productive. I would say less than 25% of my time at the moment is in meetings and on calls. It’s not always this way, so I’m enjoying it while it lasts!

Do you use social media much for work?
Social media is one of my favorite and most powerful tools for work as a spokesperson for our business. It enables me to connect directly with the world without friction. Over the years I’ve built up a strong network on all the main social networks where I communicate with many people every day. We’ve seen some of our biggest prospects talking about us on social media and we’ve been able to contribute and positively impact the conversation. I’d encourage everyone to be on social media in a professional capacity.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I really enjoy helping our customers solve their business problems using our technology and learning how we can better help them.

What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
I listen to a huge variety of music at work – from Hip Hop to Opera, Classical to Jazz. Sitting in an open plan office I get distracted really easily, so music on my noise cancelling headphones helps me concentrate. I’m listening to Verdi’s La Traviata as I write this.

What do you do for lunch?
I’m on a slightly crazy protein diet at the moment (I’ve lost 27lbs), so I head to the various buffet places locally to stock up on protein and hopefully some fresh air.

Do you socialise with work colleagues?
At Mimecast we’re a really sociable company, so we often socialise together and especially when we have visitors from out of town.

Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
I can’t put my finger on anything in particular, but things are noticeably easier to get done with the advent of smartphones and apps – admin seems much quicker than ever before. I’m not a great delegator and we run a very flat structure here, so you’re expected to be self-sufficient, which suits me perfectly.

What is your last task of your day?
Hopefully I’ve got to inbox zero – an empty inbox!

How do you like to relax after work?
My ideal relaxation is to go windsurfing after work in the Bay under the Golden Gate bridge and then dinner at home with my girlfriend. Other times I head home and enjoy cooking dinner together.

Do you keep checking email through the evening?
Absolutely. I like being on top of things and being as responsive as is reasonable. But you can’t let it rule your life and check it too much or spend ages responding to something. Admittedly it’s a fine balance that I don’t always get right.

Do you take work projects home with you?
Sometimes you can get things done at home where at work you can’t find the time or space to- especially tasks that require a lot of deep thought, like writing and creating presentation decks.

What would you say to your 20-year old self?
I founded my first company before I was 20, so I insulated myself from a lot of feedback and criticism. But I literally paid with my own money for my mistakes. I wish I’d found great mentors like I did in my late 20’s and early 30’s that really helped me grow personally and professionally. And of course my teeth regret all that sugar in the espresso I used to drink!

If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
I’d love to work with Elon Musk for a day – maybe his Chief of Staff. I’m a transportation geek and he’s revolutionising the world of transportation – space, electric cars and now intercity travel – he would be amazing to learn from. I hear he’s a hard taskmaster, but the results speak for themselves – commercially viable space transit and a beautiful yet practical electric car, beating all the major car manufacturers to it.

What device did you use to answer these questions?
A MacBook Pro 13” Retina – a great balance between portability and power.

Do you use your own personal device for work?
Yes – I bring an iPad and an iPhone to work. I love having the latest devices and Mimecast provides a subsidy to employees for their phones, which is the perfect balance for me.


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