Boss It Like

How To Boss It Like… Brigitte Ricou-Bellan, MD of digital at TES

By Oliver Smith 7 September 2017

These leaders are changing our world for the better. 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 Decoded’s Kathryn Parsons, to Victor’s Clive Jackson and REWIND founder Sol Rogers, these smart people seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

This morning, as part of The Memo‘s September Future Learning month, we’re chatting with Brigitte Ricou-Bellan, managing director of digital at Tes, the vast online community for teachers.

Meet Brigitte Ricou-Bellan

Ricou-Bellan joined Tes from eBay, where she led its ticket exchange StubHub international, launching it in the UK and Canada.

She joined Tes in July 2015 to create a new digital division focused on helping teachers and schools to share resources and collaborate digitally on lesson planning.

Outside of work she is a trustee of Eastside, the educational trust working with young people to develop their creative thinking.

A busy woman, with big ideas, The Memo asked her how she gets it all done…

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


I get up at 6.30 am.

I meditate for 5 to 10 minutes (I discovered meditation after attending the Institute for Personal leadership at Columbia University a few years ago and have not stopped since).

I do not have a set daily routine but when I am not travelling, I go to a Pilates studio twice a week before work, and pick tube options where I walk at least 20 minutes. I also try to walk the 7.5km from my north London home to my office (crossing both Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park) at least once a week.

I resist going online before my first coffee, and usually share a light breakfast with my husband and will check the news (BBC, Le Monde) and occasionally Twitter (I am a light user).

I make sure my two teenagers are up before I leave home to get to my office. Before I get to work, I ensure I have a clear view of my day and of the things I want to accomplish, for work and personally.

What apps do you use to be more productive?

I have explored many many apps and options and have pretty much narrowed things down to Apple Notes (where I keep a professional and personal to-do and update daily the 3 to 5 things I want to get done), Evernote for my projects, meetings and one to one notes (which are shareable with other Evernote users), Google Keep for my shopping (with a shared list with my other half) which I synchronise across my phone and tablet.

I try to minimise email and use Hipchat (at work), Skype and Google Hangout, and WhatsApp/Messenger with my friends and family.

I constantly explore and download new productivity and personal assistant apps, but nothing ever sticks.

I am waiting for the perfect virtual assistant to be released! I am a fan of voice activation, use Alexa in my home, and like recording small memos to myself or others on my phone using Dragon.

I have learned over time that productivity is about focusing your energy on the right things and that less is more.

What smartphone do you have?

I use an iPhone 6 Plus, 120gb and wear an Apple Watch which I use to see my messages and record my activity.

I am increasingly avoiding using my phone in meetings/at home (and not always succeeding) and working on being present in the moment.

I take my meeting notes on an iPad and focus on shorter meetings, some standing up or walking, where I am fully present and engaged.

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

Usually between 10 to 12 in 1:1/small meetings settings and 20 to 30 in larger meetings setting.

This includes my teams, peers, colleagues and external partners, stakeholders and customers. Some of those interactions are face to face and others are remote.

In my ideal world, interactions with customers should be daily.

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

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari, it has a unique perspective on humanity and on our future.

What advice would you give for people who are eager to get into your industry?

Working in education technology is a great way to combine a fast moving, increasingly digital domain and a purpose and impact driven sector.

To thrive and be happy, I feel it is helpful to have a way to relate personally to teachers/schools, directly or indirectly and to have a spark of passion for learning and education.

Do you have a wind down routine?

I work late during the week as I often have to speak with people who are in other parts of the world. I try when I do not have evening commitments to have dinner with my family.

I use the iOS ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature to put my phone in bedtime mode (silent, no notifications) from 9pm. This is still work-in-progress as I will tend to check my emails/live dashboards later.

I always read and drink mint tea before going to sleep.

If you could ask your idol one question, who would it be, and what would you ask?

I love theatre and I’m a fan of Shakespeare so I would probably ask him if he is the author of all of the plays attributed to him, and which one he prefers.

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