Human Resources

Typical 24: Chris Baker, Concur

Chris Baker

  Job title: MD, UK Enterprise

  Company: Concur

  Location: Maidenhead, England



1.              What time do you reach the office each day?
I’ll usually arrive at the office at around 7:45 in the morning, which isn’t so bad with my five mile commute. Contrary to popular opinion I didn’t choose the location of our new offices to be in Maidenhead!


2.              Isyour job varied?
It’s extremely varied. I’ve found the more senior the position I hold, the more variety there is in my day-to-day schedule. My background was in sales, but nowadays I’m managing people, visiting clients and partners, so it’s great to get a holistic view of our customers, from the sale of our solutions through to ongoing support.

3.              Is your job creative?
Very much so – which some people find surprising seeing as I work in software! I think that creativity is really important to motivate people, and to move Concur as a company forward. Business deals are another area that needs to have creativity applied to them for the best results. One exercise we like to do at the start of the fiscal year is having people set themselves BHAGS – big, hairy, audacious goals. Once people have anonymously submitted theirs, we look to reverse engineer from the end results, and find ways our staff can achieve these.

4.              What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
The majority of my time is spent in meetings, which I love. They can be virtual, on conference lines, face-to-face, and both internal and external. It’s one of my aims moving forward to be out of the office at least 50% of the time to meet with people; working at the coalface is still what excites me.

5.              Do you personalise your desk?
I’m a neat freak at heart, so I don’t do too much in the way of customisation. I like to keep a clean desk, but it is ergonomically designed. We also have fantastic electronic desks which can be used at both standing and sitting heights so I often use this function.

6.              Would you describe yourself as creative?
Yes, there are a number of ways that I need to be creative for the role that I do at Concur. I mentioned earlier about the setting of BHAG goals and how we then reverse engineer these to motivate our staff – that’s creative. I’ve also implemented ‘the close before the close’, an initiative to close any ongoing deals or contracts before the end of the quarter, to minimise the crunch period that can often happen when they draw to a close. You also need to think creatively when assembling teams; diversity is key for a ‘healthy friction’, so you need to match up introverts, extroverts, thinkers and actioners to achieve this balance.

7.              Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
I don’t think so – I’m not a particularly superstitious person! However every day when I get back home, I like to take my dogs for a walk or a run alongside the Thames, which helps me unwind.

8.              Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
I work both with colleagues and independently. Mainly I work alongside others, as it’s extremely useful to bounce ideas off other people and get a fresh perspective on them. There can’t be any walls in modern business, so collaboration is really important to make sure your ideas are as streamlined as possible. To this effect, I prefer to run workshop-style sessions more than traditional meetings.

9.              How many hours on average do you work a day?
I work between eight and twelve hours a day on average. Nowadays, everybody has devices that allow them to work remotely and on the move, so the lines are a bit more blurred. The times do vary through quarters, with some weeks (such as at the end of the quarter or financial year) being far busier. We also have to work across time zones, so often there might be an important message from the US that we are waiting on; in that case I would check my emails through the evening.

10.          Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
My aim is to spend 100% of my time in meetings, so I’m organising things from day to day to try and achieve this. I have an assistant to help me with calls and planning my diary, which is invaluable. I also heavily filter my emails, with cc’ed messages going into a separate inbox being one way I try to thin these out. I should add that there are no filters applied to those who directly report to me, and those I directly report to in senior management!  

11.          Do you use social media much for work?
I try to as much as possible, and I think we are moving towards a time where email will eventually be replaced by the wealth of social options we have at our fingertips. At Concur we use chat solutions such as Microsoft Link and a CRM system, and then for more outwards facing social media we heavily use LinkedIn and Twitter. LinkedIn is great for looking for potential candidates for our ever-growing staff and connecting with colleagues and business partners, while Twitter is used for content promotion.  

12.          What do you enjoy most about your work?
Seeing a plan come together. I joined just over a year ago, and in that time we have implemented a plan we had for UK Enterprise, and have seen our revenue double from last year’s figures.

13.          What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
I don’t listen to music while in the office. My office is near to the sales floor, and that’s my background music. I like to be able to hear the sound of the sales team and the energy that comes from them.

14.          What do you do for lunch?
It’s usually just a quick sandwich from down the road. Maybe once a week I’ll also have a nice lunch with clients or business partners, which are good for business as well as a chance to have a nice meal!

15.          Do you socialise with work colleagues?
Yes, we do have after work socials and events like the Christmas party to look forward to through the year. I’ve known some of my colleagues for more than ten years, so there are some that I know their families and socialise outside of work with too.

16.          Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
Of course, expense day being a thing of the past is probably the major one! I came through my career predominantly in sales, so it was always a massive issue to claim back; now it’s an effortless process with Concur. Thinking about it, I probably gave thousands in interest free loans to previous companies over the years.

17.          What is your last task of your day?
I have two tasks that I always finish my day with: check with the sales team to see if anything has closed, and then take a look through my calendar so I know what the next day has in store.

18.          How do you like to relax after work?
As I mentioned earlier, as soon as I get home I take my dogs for a walk or run. By the time I’ve got back to my house after this, I’ve unwound and am ready to relax.

19.          Do you keep checking email through the evening?
As a rule I try not to check my emails through the evening, as it can be a hard habit to break. However with our head office situated in the US, if I’m waiting on an important email then I’ll keep an eye on them.

20.          Do you take work projects home with you?
I sometimes discuss things with my wife. She’s an ex-colleague of mine, so understands the business and market and is an excellent person to help me with ideas!

21.          What would you say to your 20-year old self?
The most important message I’d send would be to make sure I had a business mentor, and always have someone in that capacity to help you. These people, despite often being the hardest person on you will always push you out of your comfort zone and to then achieve more. If that proves too complex, probably just the winning lottery ticket numbers instead!

22.          If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
Definitely an astronaut. I’d quite like my day to include take-off, a walk through space and to try dinner in zero gravity!

23.          What device did you use to answer these questions?
I used my iPad mini.

24.          Do you use your own personal device for work?
I use the same device – an iPad mini – while I’m at work and at home. It’s perfect for when I’m on the move and working while at clients and partners, as it’s powerful yet extremely portable. It’s as good for meetings as it is for flicking through the news at home.


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