Alex Craven leads Bloom and Jaywing Intelligence, taking technology to market when his talented team build it. He explains why keeping moving, in many aspects of life, is key.
What is it the company does?
Jaywing Intelligence is the marketing technology offer from Jaywing plc—an agency and consulting business with a HQ in Sheffield. Jaywing operates in the UK and Australia and specialises in data science.
The Jaywing Intelligence arm of the business is based in Leeds at my agency, Bloom, which was acquired in a management buyout by Jaywing in 2016.
At Jaywing Intelligence, we have developed a suite of marketing technology products, focusing on the use of Artificial Intelligence and advanced data science to improve marketing execution and performance. Backed by a team of data scientists and strategists, we automate the collection and analysis of huge volumes of data to make smarter and more informed marketing decisions that drive results. Our clients include the likes of Sky, ITV, Anytime Fitness and ADT.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
My role is to identify new market opportunities and support our talented people to build the technology to serve it, and then take it to market.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
· Graduated in 1997 from University of Liverpool, with a BA Honours degree in Philosophy
· Founded marketing agency, Bloom, at the age of 23
· Spent 20 years growing the business and its reputation, before selling it to Jaywing in September 2016
· I’m now one year into my earnout period at Bloom and continue to play a key role the strategic development of the business
What do you believe makes a great leader?
A great leader is someone that sees their own success through the achievements of their team. The best leaders will have complete confidence in their team’s ability to work independently.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
I’ve been my own boss for 20 years, and since becoming part of a Plc I now have people above me to answer to—that’s been the biggest shift for me. Aside from that, being part of Jaywing has presented lots of positive opportunities for growth and it’s been hugely beneficial to have a wider support network.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I love spending time with my family. My children are growing up fast and it’s important to enjoy the special moments we have together. Working out is a great stressbuster and I do regular Crossfit training to help keep myself in shape. I also like to unwind with friends and enjoy a good glass of rum!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an architect.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
I’ve never liked the restriction hierarchical structures place on people. I want all my staff to feel free to be creative and express their own views and opinions, regardless of their position. At Bloom, I try to keep the structure as flat as possible and make sure everyone knows it’s their contribution that matters and not the job title.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
Market leaders in pioneering the application of artificial intelligence to marketing technology.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Keep moving: standing still is more likely to kill you than changing. Also, never stop believing. Enjoy the journey and remember to celebrate the wins along the way. Don’t place all your hopes on the destination.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
About five years in, I was told: ‘business is hard, it’s meant to be otherwise everyone would do it.’ I constantly refer to that when things get challenging.