Behrooz Saeed, director of digital agency Tall talks to BQ about how he got started in business and what its like to be your own boss.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
Well, I guess you could say my role is extremely varied and no day is the same. I work closely with my business partner on a daily basis, creating and driving forward the growth strategy for Tall. I like to stay in tune with our active projects, providing technical direction where I can and ensuring that we always look to maximise their potential through the use of technology. Those that know me well would most likely say that I’m a “detail” man, I think it’s this trait that helps me create processes and drive efficiencies in every aspect of our business.
What is it the company does?
We create stunning digital experiences. We do it for start-ups and large global organisations, size doesn’t matter to us, it’s much more about fit. We constantly push and challenge convention at every turn, we like being out of our comfort zone and it’s important that the people we work with are OK with that.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I was fortunate enough to land a really good job straight out of university working for a 'new media' company based in Macclesfield. I was employed to help get their e-commerce services off the ground and jumped straight into producing a prototype e-commerce website for their sales teams to sell. This was back in the early days of e-commerce, Amazon were only six years old and selling products online was quite a scary proposition for small to medium sized businesses.
I moved on from there (like you do, it was my first job out of university) and started working at a Barnsley-based 'new media' agency. It was here I learnt a lot of what I know today, it was a fast-paced agency producing what was, at the time, award-winning digital experiences for the likes of Yorkshire Tea and Network Rail. There was a great management team in place and I got on really well with the owners, they were both great mentors.
In around 2004 I decided to take the plunge and go for it on my own. I’d built up some great industry contacts, made friends with some great people client side and thought it was the right time to move on independently. I’ve been a master of my own destiny since that very day.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
A wise man once told me that great leaders are very good at surrounding themselves with good people! I think to be a good leader people need to like you and believe in your cause. I think it’s a combination of respect and loyalty actually, that’s how I’ve felt when I’ve followed great leaders.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
The biggest challenge for me is delegation, I’m much better at it these days but there’s still room for improvement.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Family time, golf and gardening are all good for relieving my stress levels. Not all at the same time of course!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a driver, I was fascinated by cars, I guess you could say I still am! The design, the speed, the noise – cars are a real passion of mine.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
People that bring smelly lunches. There’s nothing I can really do about it, it’s often my business partner that’s the culprit!
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
You never know what’s around the corner, I think we’re in for a rough ride in 2019 but I’d like to think we’ll be in a very good place in five years, still doing great work for great clients with a great team around us.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
You have to learn to take the rough with the smooth. Running a business isn’t easy and whilst it has its up sides it certainly has its down sides too. Never give up, stay true to your beliefs and be focussed. Don’t let failure be an option.
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