How To Boss It Like… Russ Shaw, founder Tech London Advocates

By Oliver Smith 7 January 2016

Britain’s business leaders are changing the world. In our weekly series we find out how they get the job done.

There are a handful of business leaders and industry figures in Britain who are changing the world. Eileen Burbidge, Simon Belsham and Debbie Wosskow seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

This morning we’re talking to Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates (TLA), who is undoubtedly a productivity guru.

Shaw established TLA in April 2013 and it has since grown into a vast network of 2,500 members of London’s tech community, including the CEO of BT Gavin Patterson, Baroness Martha Lane-Fox and Facebook’s EMEA vice president Nicola Mendelsohn.

A strong advocate for increasing the number of women in London’s tech sector Shaw has also campaigned against the Governments moves to clampdown on immigration, which some argue could hamper London’s ability to attract and recruit world-class talent.

In addition to leading one of the largest private-sector tech groups in the country Russ is also a London Tech Ambassador of the Mayor’s Office, a member of the Tech City Advisory Group and sits on the boards of two public and one private tech company.

A busy man, with big ideas, The Memo asked Shaw how he gets it all done.

What time do you get up, and what part of your morning routine sets you up for the day?

I am usually up by 6am during the week. I ensure my sons are up and out for school, walk the dog and then I head to the gym (I run 5km every day).

Soon after I wake up, I usually check emails from overnight, look at some news apps (BBC, CNN, Bloomberg) and check Twitter and LinkedIn. Before I head out, I’ll usually check TfL for updates and also Citymapper for bus/tube.

And, yes, I look at a weather app to see if/when it will rain.

What apps or methods do you use to be more productive?

I don’t use ‘productivity’ apps as I think I am pretty productive in terms of staying on top of things (I clear my inbox daily, which is pretty important for my role as founder of Tech London Advocates, helping with connections and networking).

Because I move all around London every day (the Central Line/Jubilee Line are a core part of my day), staying on top of transit issues is really key for me to ensure that I stay on schedule.

I don’t have an office in London, but I have many ‘homes’ and places to meet with fellow Advocates throughout the day.

Wifi and network coverage is vital for me as I move around — broadband speeds are pretty variable around the city and I’m a bandwidth junkie every day.

Wifi on the underground has also helped me to be more productive so I can keep on top of messages/Twitter/my inbox as I move around.

What smartphone do you use?

I use an iPhone 6 with 64gb of storage.

How many people, outside of family, do you meet in a day? And who are they?

My days vary hugely, I can often meet scores of people in one day, these include entrepreneurs, investors, corporate execs, government officials, journalists, agencies, techies, etc.

Many of them are existing Tech London Advocates or new Advocates being welcomed into the group.


TLA now has close to 2,500 Advocates worldwide with over 20 working groups, so my days are filled with all kinds of people. Beyond that, there are days/times when I have regular board meetings and calls (I sit on three tech company boards/advisory boards).

When do you work until? Are you still sending emails in the night?

One of my biggest challenges is to ‘switch off’ during the day.

Meals with my family and social activities with friends are very important to me (and my daily run clears my head), but I am sometimes sending/checking emails until later in the evening.

The great thing about my days is that they are designed by me in terms of who I meet and when (I keep my own diary), but my challenge is that they are immensely busy with requests to meet all kinds of people.

It is one of the things that I love most about what I do, meeting so many people with diverse backgrounds and experiences is fantastic.

Come back next Thursday for our next #BossItLike interview, and get in touch if you know a business leader who’s also a productivity guru for us to talk to.