Here is another “5 Mins With…” post sharing how respected industry professionals got their breaks and progressed in their careers. This time I spoke to Toby Powell-Blyth, Technical Director at Mr & Mrs Smith about his background, the challenges he has faced, and the mistakes and highlights of his career.
If you aspire to be a Technical Director like Toby, read on…
How I Became A Digital Technical Director
How /why did you enter the industry?
I guess I always played with computers since I was young. – I started programming BASIC on an Atari 600, went through Spectrums, PCs and now I live on a Mac. The moment someone showed me HTML, I found a real niche I could live in, then moving on to programming just made perfect sense for me. The fast turnaround of website changes feels so much more natural to me than application coding
I started out reading Computer Science in Aberystwyth, then as my final year approached, I reached out to a couple of companies and offered my services. There was no real graduate program, just a friendly management team who wanted to get fresh faces in the office and encourage growth.
If you were to sum up your responsibilities in a sentence what would you say?
Anything in the company that clicks, whirrs or beeps is my fault and my pleasure.
What would you say are the most rewarding bits of your job?
Solution building to save people time. A lot of my best solutions save people from minutes to hours of tedious tasks. It’s amazing to think that one week a given person might have to come to work and spend 2 hours a day copying and pasting something (which probably drives them round the bend) then the next week I remove the requirement for that task entirely, and they can go ahead and be more creative in their role
What are the biggest challenges in the role?
Trying to bridge the gap between people who have some of the idea of what they want to change, but not all. Filling in the gaps like “But what happens when the person hasn’t filled in the form in that order” or “what should it do when there is no actual name to add to that database” can be hard, especially if I don’t fully understand the purpose of that form or that system
What is your biggest career mistake?
I once made a career jump purely because of the money on offer, without checking out the company properly, and without really thinking about what I would be leaving behind. It’s important to make sure that you’re leaving a role for the right reasons, and being sure that the next role you have is better at fulfilling you on a personal level. Money has to be a secondary consideration. I don’t think I’d like to become a sewer-scraper for a million pound salary.
What does the future hold for you?
Who knows indeed. Mr & Mrs Smith grows from strength to strength, more so behind the scenes. It can only get busier and the system can only get more complex.
When you started your career did you have aspirations to be where you are today?
I think I wanted to do more project management than team management. I think that’s because I didn’t really understand fully what those job titles meant.
If you are interested in a career as a technical director, or other roles in digital marketing get in touch with me to discuss your options. Call 020 3116 0000 or email email@example.com
About Toby Powell-Blyth: Toby’s role as Technical Director at Mr & Mrs Smith has involved building a team from scratch to turn the website from a legacy liability to a modern lean efficient multi-platform solution.
Mr & Mrs Smith is an award-winning hotel website and booking service specialising in finding the most inspiring boutique hotels.