Filling the White Space – Simon Bradstock, SVP & General Manager of Experian Hitwise
By Stephanie Harris
Throughout the course of his career, Simon Bradstock has come to learn that experience is the best instructor.
As a senior vice president and general manager for Experian Hitwise, Bradstock is involved in every aspect of the business—from planning a product launch and reviewing a sales pipeline to developing and directing the organization. Through his range of professional experiences, he has positioned himself to manage his team effectively toward success.
“I’ve been very lucky in my career,” Bradstock said. “I’ve been exposed to a whole range of experiences, and from all perspectives.”
Not only has he worked with clients in the U.K., continental Europe, Asia and the U.S.—which has introduced him to diverse cultures and different customers—but Bradstock also has held responsibilities in various job functions, including sales, marketing, product management, and even mergers and acquisitions.
Bradstock consciously built a portfolio of jobs over the years that has positioned him to gain the knowledge necessary to run a division. He believes any general manger can benefit from time spent working in other roles because, as a general manager, you are called upon to be strategic and ultimately to be held accountable for every aspect of a business.
“Being able to put it all together and having been exposed to a range of functional areas within your career really creates the roundedness that allows you to be a great general manager,” Bradstock said. “When I look at my management team, I can say, ‘I’ve done your job, I know what it’s like, and I know what the issues are.’”
One of the most crucial issues Bradstock focuses his attention on is his clients. In fact, you can even say he is obsessed.
“The primary philosophy in this business is being client focused, client obsessed,” Bradstock said. “We have to make sure we’re delivering on our promises to clients, and providing them the maximum value from the investment they’re making in our services.”
As a digital insight business, Experian Hitwise provides data to digital marketers that help them understand how to best address the consumers they are targeting in the marketplace.
“One of our challenges every day is looking at our data and trying to understand our clients’ challenges and issues,” Bradstock said. “We have to really hone the insight and data we provide to help answer those problems.”
In order to develop data into actionable insight for their clients, Bradstock and his team have to thoroughly understand their client and their needs. “We have to keep a close understanding of how the market is developing,” he said, “and how technology and marketing technique is involved.”
Bradstock sees this as a key challenge and opportunity for the business, and it influences how he trains his staff. “Staying up to date, both with clients and the marketplace, is really important for us.”
He guides the organization to stay focused on the idea of ‘what are we doing for customers?’ and to always be aware of the impact they are creating for their customers.
“It’s about being client focused and customer obsessed.”
A Collaborative Effort
Bradstock recognizes that the success of a team relies on the strength of its individuals and how they fit together. Keeping this front of mind, he directs his team with a collaborative style of leadership.
“In a large-base business, the strength of an organization comes from the talent, ideas and perspectives of the entire organization, as well as the senior management team,” Bradstock said. “I like people with ideas and strong opinions. My style is to take those opinions and work in a collaborative style for the benefit of the organization.”
When hiring staff and building teams for success, there are certain qualities Bradstock seeks in employees. “I’m ultimately interested in people who have passion and enthusiasm, and who really want to be successful and have a drive about them.”
He also seeks out intelligent people who have strong ideas and are willing to be challenged. Ultimately, Bradstock likes to hire people who are going places.
Traversing the Career Path
Throughout his career, Bradstock has always wanted to do more and be in a position in which he could provide as much input as possible. “I am fundamentally inquisitive and interested in challenges and learning new skills,” he said. “I always put my hand up when there is an opportunity to do something new.”
If you approach your career this way, Bradstock believes you will create opportunities for interesting experiences that in turn will provide broad-based career exposure.
He also has been fortunate to have worked with managers and mentors who have helped him move along his career path. Bradstock reminds young professionals, however, that these types of relationship do not appear out of nowhere: You have to build them.
“I worked with a CEO/president who saw that I was up for challenges and opportunities, and [this person] was interested enough to help me go off to those challenges and navigate them,” Bradstock said. “The mistake I see employees sometimes make is thinking that somehow a mentor will just appear out of nowhere. Ultimately, you have to take responsibility for your own career, and if you do, you’ll find that people will get interested and want to help you because they feel potential.”
Bradstock’s central piece of career advice: Take responsibility for your own career because organizations will not always provide a career plan for every employee.
“Look to fill white space,” he said. “Often there are situations when something needs to be done and it is no one’s exact responsibility. Young people who expand into this open space and try to fill important gaps in how an organization is executing often find themselves growing and being noticed and given more responsibility.”
As for his own career goals, Bradstock will continue to focus on doing a remarkable job, while always looking to take on new challenges that will expose him to different experiences.
“And to continue to learn and develop,” he added. “I’m not done.”
Stephanie Harris is a freelance writer based in Chicago, Illinois.
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