What is your role at Just About?
I’m the company’s Chief Operating Officer. You can’t spell COOL without COO, so I’m effectively here to ensure good vibes, and make sure everything is all fun, all the time. Pogo sticks for employees, mandatory Heelys in the office, bring your llama to work days - that sort of thing.
COO is, by nature, a multifaceted position, but at a basic level my role at JA can be boiled down to two main things. The first is deciding, alongside the rest of the leadership team (Alex, our CTO, and CEO Rupert), what the overall business strategy and direction for the company is. Where do we want to get to, over what timeframe, and what does the resourcing and focus need to look like to give us the best chance of getting there.
The second is to then make sure that the rest of the company is aligned with that, and has the tools and information and support to move us forward. I have direct oversight of the majority of the ‘non-Tech’ disciplines within the company, namely marketing, content, community, and design. All of these need to be working in a way which aligns with the company goals as well as with the product roadmap, so that our efforts are synced up and pulling in the same direction.
What all this looks like in practice is quite a lot of meetings, an awful lot of Asana tasks and spreadsheets, and a decent amount of writing/commenting on documents. Thrill a minute, basically.
Why did you join JA, and where did you work before?
My background is in journalism/media: I was at (what was then called) Future Publishing for six years, first as a writer and then a magazine editor, before I joined Network N early in the company’s journey. I started there as editor of PCGamesN (where I first hired Rich - maybe we don’t always learn from our mistakes…), but over time took responsibility for launching and running all of the brands in the company’s media division. My most recent role before this was with a startup called GLHF, which worked with mainstream media outlets to provide high-quality gaming content for their web properties.
I joined Just About - raging cliché alert - as I believe in what we’re doing, and because right now feels like a time of massive (and necessary) change in the online landscape. We want to be a force for good in driving that change, and build a better alternative for online communities.
How did you get started in this industry?
I was doing post-university work experience in London and met someone who said he could get me a placement at the Official PlayStation Magazine (which I’d read in my teens and was, at the time, the best gaming magazine going). They brought me on for a two-week stint, and on my second day I won the company-wide FIFA tournament (to a lot of confused faces, as no one knew who I was). I think after that they just felt like they couldn’t get rid of me.
Non-work quickfire round
What is your favourite game/film/TV show?
Dark Souls; No Country for Old Men; Breaking Bad or Succession. Anything lighthearted and whimsical, basically.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Having just been through a house move which was stressful beyond the wildest of possible expectations, I will not be going anywhere else, ever. I’ll die here.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
A footballer, but once that was evidently impossible I became a little bit more realistic and wanted to be James Bond. (I still want to be James Bond.)
Share a hobby you currently have.
I took up golf last year and it very quickly got its claws into me in a way that I couldn’t have imagined. I wish I were playing golf right now. In fact, I think we’re done here… 🏌️⛳