From getting his first PC in 1995, Chris Buckley knew his future lay in the world of tech. Now he is the managing director of digital agency, Pixel Kicks, and here to tell BQ about his career so far, plan for the future and challenges he faces in his role.
What is it the company does?
Pixel Kicks is a Manchester-based full service digital agency working across web design, SEO, social media and PPC. The focus of the business is on adding commercial value to our clients; whether that’s profile raising, driving sales and enquiries or some other agreed measurable. We work in a variety of sectors including property & real estate, health & fitness, industrial & engineering, education and legal.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
As an experienced website developer, my management style is very much hands-on so I help oversee all the departments in the company. I also keep a keen eye on quality control and I make sure that we’re as efficient as we can be. However, in 2019 I want my focus to shift towards business development and growth.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I started my career back in 1998 as a website designer, working for a Manchester-based computer hardware company. I taught myself everything I know and my background is pretty technical including programming and database work. However, as my career progressed I realised my design skills were equally as good and they soon became an integral part of my job. I made the leap and set up Pixel Kicks in 2011 and have never looked back! The last few years have seen an explosion in digital marketing - it’s a faced-paced sector but exciting and dynamic.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
In one sentence: Being able to inspire your colleagues. That can happen in many ways but setting an example and putting everything you have into a company shows commitment and dedication. Also, I’m not a born salesman who started a company purely to make money. I think the team appreciate that and they know it’s not all about the bottom line. It’s also about creating standout work that actually benefits our clients as well as ensuring we have an inclusive environment where everyone has a stake and a passion in what they do.
What has been the biggest challenge in your current position?
I’d say transitioning from being a web designer and developer into a manager of a business and people. I worked independently for a long time so learning to delegate and to trust others took time but as you build the right team that all becomes a lot easier.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Exercise is my main form of stress relief. I’ve religiously trained for three to four days a week since my early 20s including football, running, bodybuilding, triathlons and Crossfit. Working out helps me switch off so my mind – as well as my body – benefits. I’ve also started exploring mindfulness. I’m currently listening to an audio book called Headspace which is fantastic.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
According to my mum and dad, I used to say that I wanted to be a bin-man! But since my early teens my passion was always to work with computers. I spent most of my childhood messing about with ZX Spectrums, Commodore 64s and later Amigas, before getting my first PC in 1995. That was the real turning point when everything clicked so I knew my career would be taking a techy path. I’ve been a true computer geek all my life and I’m proud to say that I always will be.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I have so many things to do in a day that it’s sometimes difficult to prioritise but that’s the same for every MD. I do try and get out of the office every couple of weeks for a solid day working on my own. I have a number of favourite places that I like to work from, and I often find that I get so much more done as there are no distractions and I can focus on the task in hand.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
It’ll be larger, more financially secure, well respected and working with a roster of larger clients. I think e-commerce work will also become a big part of the business.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Whatever area you operate in, don’t simply rely on the strength of your work to drive sales. Sales and marketing should be central to your business so get out of your comfort zone like I did, sell yourself and network hard.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
It doesn’t get any easier! I’m working more now than I ever have. Motivation is a big part of running your own business - I get into work at 7am every day and often I don’t leave until 7pm; but that’s my choice. I only do it because I want to and I get a buzz out of it. Over time I do want to lessen the amount of hours I work and spend more time with my family. I have confidence the effort I’m putting in now will pay off later.
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