How I made it: featuring Tim Kidd, European Managing Director at Kantar Worldpanel
For our latest inspiring stories series, 'How I made it', we're interviewing the cream of the crop across all facets of communications and marketing. This is where you'll learn about how the best in the industry got to where they are today and hopefully pick up some tips along the way to help your own career progress.
Tim Kidd is European Managing Director at Kantar Worldpanel, a business which has at its heart the ambition to inspire its clients to make better educated and more impactful business decisions based on its consumer panel services. In 2018 he was listed in the Top 5 best CEOs by GlassDoor during their annual employees choice awards, we felt it would be a great time to talk to him about his journey.
How did you get into market research?
I actually got into the industry by accident. I did a Chemistry degree at university (which I haven’t used, in anger, since) and in my final year at university decided I wanted a job in advertising.
I applied for ‘scientific’ sounding roles in the sector, such as planning, but also applied for roles in research agencies. I assumed this would be rather like an advertising agency, though perhaps with less champagne flowing around.
Happily, I got a job in research, which I found really suited me and allowed me to use the analytical skills I had gained completing my degree. I certainly fell into the industry by accident, but I got a job I really love out of it so it worked out well.
What keeps you sane on those crazy days?
I suppose every day is a bit crazy. Working life just gets busier and busier, everything requires a faster turnaround and more rapid response. When I started, we had to type letters, post them and wait for a response, but now I get around 10 emails an hour. I cope with this frenetic pace by making sure that I switch off when I’m not working. I clear my inbox each evening then log off and typically don’t look at my emails again until I get into the office the next morning.
This isn’t just good for me, it’s good for my team. If I were to be emailing people at midnight, then they might think that was how they had to behave too and I don’t think that’s right. You need to have a balance; I don’t want my team to end up not enjoying their work and therefore being less engaged.
Do you, or did you, have a mentor?
I suppose in my more humble moments – which I have often – I assume I’ve got to my role through luck and good fortune. But part of what has helped me get here is a string of great bosses. I’ve had fantastic bosses that I’ve really clicked with; people with a clear vision of where the business is going and what they want me to do get it there. I’ve enjoyed working for them and these relationships have helped me to develop.
What are the three words that best describe you as a communicator and leader?
Authentic. Informal. Open.
What career advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
I think I’ve realised with time that I am better at what I do than I let myself admit, so I would like to have believed that a bit more while younger.
As a student, I used to row and always felt more comfortable as a ‘7’ rather than an ‘8’; happier supporting rather than being the stroke as I just felt too exposed. It took me a long time to realise that I could perform in a leadership role.
It’s important to have your own sense of self confidence and believe that what you’re doing is good and adds value. It’s also worth remembering that everyone is in the same boat; if you’re having a crisis of confidence, other people probably are too. The work environment might look like it’s full of people who are in control, but we all have self-doubt and weaknesses as well as strengths.
What piece of technology couldn’t you live without?
I love cars, so a relatively new piece of technology I like is the satnav. It’s fantastic that you can just get into your car, tell it where you want to go and let it take away all the anguish of navigating.
In terms of old tech, I would still love to drive a car with a big petrol engine. Teslas look great and I think one day we will all be driving electric cars, but I still love the noise and feel of a large, powerful combustion engine.
What do you think the industry should be doing to improve diversity?
I think that diversity and inclusion means something different to each one of us, but I work on the assumption/principle that if I and the business I lead manages to get the right person doing every job, then we’re doing something right.
So if we promote internally and recruit without bias, then over time the workplace will become as diverse as it should be. It’s all about ensuring that the right person gets the job, regardless of gender, race or age. That’s my basic principle and my mantra.