A day in the life of a Talent Manager

For our latest ‘A day in the life’ interview, we caught up with Alex, Code’s Talent Manager.

Can you begin by telling us a bit about yourself and your role in the agency?

I’m Alex and I’m the Talent Manager at Code. I’ve been in this role for the last two years and mainly focus on three areas: attracting talent, retaining talent and talent development.

Could you describe a typical day in the office?

Now that’s a question! I’m happy to say there’s no such thing as a typical day in my role (I’d find it VERY boring if there was). But, generally speaking, my time is split between tasks specifically focused on attracting, retaining and developing talent, or programmes and initiatives focused on delivering business goals. I regularly check in with the Operations Team and the Senior Management Team (via team ceremonies) to make sure I’m focusing my efforts in the right place.

What key skills do you think are most important in a Talent Manager?

You need to value people over everything. We know that the happier people are at Code, the better their work will be; as Talent Manager, you can have a direct impact on this by ensuring people have access to the tools, skills and knowledge they need to keep learning and doing their jobs to the best of their ability.

You can’t do this on your own though, so you need to be constantly networking and identifying opportunities to make a positive impact. Once you’ve identified these opportunities, you might have to play a different role in the situation; one minute you are a facilitator, the next a confidant, the next an advisor… So I’m constantly asking myself, ‘What do I want them to get out of this, how do I want them to feel, and which role do I need to take on to achieve this?’.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

My digital career began at JD Williams in the eBusiness department as a Homepage and Implementation Manager. I managed the homepages of their online titles, liaising with marketing and merchandising, to deliver content and offers.

I then moved to McCann Manchester and took on a Traffic Manager role in the previously named McCann-I department, where I trafficked all digital work through the agency. This was my introduction to the world of agencies, and I got to work with some super talented people.

I joined Code in 2009 as Production Manager, building on my experiences from McCann-I and implementing them on a larger scale. This was my life at Code for two years, but things changed for me when we moved from a command control way of working to a collaborative empowering way of working; instead of me centrally managing resource, resource management and everything that comes with it, this responsibility moved into the teams, which meant my role was essentially redundant…

So I was given an opportunity to explore my passion for facilitation; outside of work, I coach and play lacrosse and I have a real passion for mentoring players. Code recognised this and gave me the chance to explore this further.The next thing you know, I’m moving into the world of talent management — and loving it!

Do you have a favourite part of your job?

I love working with new starters, designing and delivering their Code induction. I think Code is an awesome and unique place to work and I get to spend a lot of time with every new recruit, introducing them to ‘the Code way’; I feel privileged that Tony, Louis and Wini (our founders) trust me with this important task.

What do you find the most challenging?

Probably just that I’m the first and only Talent Manager at Code. This means I have to invest a lot of time networking with learning providers, agencies and companies on how they design and implement talent development. I am also a member of a Manchester Digital’s Peer Club, which gives me the opportunity to meet people in similar roles, and discuss the challenges we face.

But, of course, I’m not on my own within Code itself — I learn from my colleagues all the time, and Tony (MD) and Mark (Commercial Director) are always super happy to share their wisdom or offer a listening ear when I need it.

Is there a project that you are particularly proud of and why?

I love it when somebody attends a workshop I’ve designed and delivered, and I then witness them put their learnings into practice. That’s when I feel proud of my work and I get the most satisfaction. It’s a secret high five moment (don’t worry, I’ve only secretly high fived myself once before…).

How would you describe working for Code Computerlove?

We have a Code way of doing things here. It’s unique and empowering. I feel fortunate to work for a company where my thoughts, ideas and opinions matter; where I am listened to, encouraged to learn and unlearn, and to try new ideas out.

The working experience you get is a direct reflection of the effort you put into it. If you are passionate, courageous and make a positive impact on those you work with, you benefit massively. If you just do the bare minimum to get by, constantly wait for other people to tell you what to do and when to do it or simply accept each working task without questioning if it is the right thing to do, the benefits will be far less.

It’s not always easy. Like any job, some days are better than others. Plus, we are all only human and at times, we get things wrong. What is great about Code is that it knows this. Code just wants you be to open and honest.

What attributes are you looking for in a new team member?

They need to be level headed, inspiring and be an original creative thinker, who’s excited about the industry and people we work with and has a desire to continually improve. Too often people think they have failed because their ‘plan A’ has not worked. I’m looking for somebody whose instinct is to learn from it and try something new!