Boss it like…

How to Boss it like… Oliver Meakin, CEO of Maplin

By Shreyes Balebail 21 November 2017
Maplin CEO Oliver Meakin.

These leaders are changing our world for the better. We find out how they get the job done.

From Tide’s George Bevis to Bud CEO Ed Maslaveckas, these smart people get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

Today we’re talking with Oliver Meakin, CEO of Maplin, an electronic goods retail mogul revolutionising the in-store and online shopping experience.

Meet Oliver Meakin

Meakin attended The University of Bristol where he read Economics and Politics. After graduating, he worked at Mitchells & Butlers and OJM Advisory, helping him jumpstart his career as a commercial director at Maplin in 2012. Soon after, he became the CEO in 2015 and has helped make Maplin what it is today.

Read more: Maplin CEO: Insurance is about to super-charge the smart home revolution

A busy man, with big ideas, The Memo asked Meakin, 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?

Before we opened our Support Centre in London, it would be a 4:15am start on a Monday morning to drive up to Rotherham from my home in Wiltshire. Since opening in London, I now wake up at 6:00am to get to the office from the train station in Kemble.

This gives me a little over an hour of uninterrupted time to clear my emails and focus on the day ahead.

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

I don’t use any apps to help me be more productive, but perhaps I should! Spotify and Sonos are by the far most used apps on my phone; I love listening to music when I run or when I’m at home.

Although with 4 children and a wife, I am fighting an increasingly losing battle over controlling the playlist.

What smartphone do you have?

I have an iPhone 7 with a Griffin Survivor case. A complete must for someone that is permanently taking the phone out to take pictures around Maplin shops and dropping far too regularly!

How many people, outside of family, do you meet with in a day? And broadly speaking, who are these people?

I meet a LOT of people each day. The start of the week tends to be Support Centre based with a weekly Trading Meeting and regular monthly meetings with the top 30 managers in the business.

Beyond that, I try to spend at least a day a week out in shops to talk to colleagues and customers. If I had to make a guess, I would say that I meet with, on average, 20 people a day.

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

I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho when I left university on the recommendation of a friend of mine. What underpins the story is the necessity of listening to your heart, following your dreams, and appreciating what you have rather than always focusing on what you want to do next.

From a more business-focused perspective, Jack Welch’s 4E’s of Leadership really resonates with me. As a leader, I believe it is important to have huge energy, to be able to energise an organisation, to be able to execute and have the edge to make the tough decisions.

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

Omni-channel retail is absolutely all about people — be that colleagues or customers. If you don’t enjoy being around people, don’t bother working in retail! If you like people, then the other area that is increasingly important in retail is understanding data.

I would recommend spending time as an analyst. My time in consulting has been invaluable in making me a better retailer.

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

The train home allows me to clear emails and finish off the day. I try not to work once I arrive back home in the evenings around 7:30pm, this is time for my family!

That said, we have landed a number of new trial concepts in recent months so I can’t help but read the summary emails each day on performance before heading to bed!

What was your favourite childhood toy?

My BMX bike, I had hours of fun at home on it!

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

I don’t really have an idol; however, I would like to meet with Jeff Bezos to understand how he ensures that Amazon continually innovates. The moves that Amazon has made into adjacent sectors and the innovations within retail are phenomenal!

What do you think your industry will look like in 10 years? What’s your prediction?

I am a firm believer that omni-channel retailers will ultimately be the most successful. The internet is brilliant if you know what you want to buy but it is harder for consumers, especially in technology, if you are not sure on what to get.

Retailers that offer consumers the ability to shop through whatever channel they choose to and provide great service through knowledgeable colleagues and services that complement product purchases will be successful.

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.