Boss it like

How To Boss It Like… Craig Donaldson, CEO of Metro Bank

By Oliver Smith 23 March 2017

These leaders are changing our world for the better. 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.

From Tom Blomfield to Danae Ringelmann, and Andrew Ellis, these smart people seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

Today, as part of Future Finance month, we’re talking to Craig Donaldson, CEO of Metro Bank, who is undoubtedly a productivity guru.

A former managing director at RBS, Donaldson is a veteran banker with a history of roles at Barclays and HBOS before taking over as CEO of Metro Bank.

Read more: There’s a ‘golden number’ of bank branches Britain needs, says Metro Bank’s CEO

Donaldson is an alumni of the University of Bradford with a degree in Technology and Management, and he’s also a keen supporter of Sunderland AFC.

A busy man, with big ideas, The Memo asked Donaldson 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 normally get up between 6am and 7am depending on when the kids get me up. I have an 8 year old and a 6 year old, so the days of setting alarms are gone.

I used to get up and run, but my running machine is broken, has been for six months, and that must be fixed at some point as I’m putting weight on.

I’m very fortunate I live two miles from the office, so I can normally leave the house at 7.30am and be here for about ten to eight, which is great.

What smartphone do you have?

An iPhone 6S, with 128gb of storage.

What apps do you use to be more productive?

The first up I look at in the morning is [Microsoft’s] PowerBI, it’s a business intelligence app, it’s basically my entire bank in an app.

I can look at what my balances are, I can look at how many calls we’ve had, today alone we’ve had 1,469 with an abandon rate of 1.9%, which is pretty good, and we’ve got a net promoter score of 81%.

This is how I start my day and I’ll normally do that while I’m still in bed.

Then I’ll do email and Yammer, our internal social network with 2,500 users. If someone’s been promoted or done a great job, I’ll congratulate them or send a message through Yammer.

How many people, outside of family, do you meet in a day?

I try and meet customers and prospective customers every day.

I also like to wander – I call them my ‘mischief and mayhem tours’ – where I wander around and see people and find out what’s going on.

I think it’s really important that as a leader I’m visible and approachable. Because that’s the only way you get to know what’s going on. So I try and do that twice a day.

It’s about creating an environment where people know that you’re crunching the hierarchy and making sure there’s open communication.

I probably end up seeing between 100 and 200 people every day.

What book have you read, either recently or in the past, that has inspired you?

I normally read two books at a time, which is probably a weird thing to say, but I normally try to read one that is relevant to trying to develop at work, and one that’s a trashy novel.

So at the moment my trashy novel is Pharaoh by Wilbur Smith, I love historical things because I think you learn as well as enjoying the narrative story.

I’ve also just read The Hard Thing About Hard Things [by Ben Horowitz] which is a really good book about being a CEO and about dealing with growing a business.

Its message is that as a CEO you shouldn’t be worried about difficult decisions, the reason that you are a CEO is because you do the hard things. It’s the hard thing about hard things, that’s what the CEO does.

When do you work until? Are you still sending emails in the night? Or do you have a wind down routine?

Typically, if I’m not out with work, I’ll try and leave here around about 7pm, get home before half seven so I can see the kids.

When I get home I am still working, I’m a constant checker, at weekends I check all the time, apart from when I’m on holiday. Then I have an agreement with my wife that I can check twice a day.

To be honest I’m fairly typical, I get home talk to my wife and watch a bit of telly together. then we’ve been watching The Crown at the moment, we’ve just finished it and now we’re gutted.

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.