Last week was my first as CMO of SiteGround. Joining a new company, I had to learn a lot: its history, goals and challenges; business processes and everyday hacks. I wanted to become a real part of the organization and start contributing to its success as soon as possible. That said, I was expecting to spend my first week in meeting rooms and office tours. Oddly enough, I got to spend it on a Greek island instead, where my team-to-be was working remotely and learning to kiteboard. Ultimately, we all got back with a lot more than new surf skills and a suntan. Here is what my first week taught me about the company, and about working and managing a diverse team in a new field.
Utilize your passion to guide your career path
I grew up in England and soon after graduation I started working as a web developer. Although I was fascinated by the limitless possibilities of the web, I soon realized that I am not very good at coding. This led to a career move towards digital marketing, which turned out to be my true calling. For the last couple of years I was the General Manager of one of the leading digital agencies in Australia. The geographical location of my previous job was not chosen by chance. It was strongly influenced by another big passion of mine – watersports. Australia was a great place to work in my area of interest, and wakeboard all year long at the same time.
But why look for new challenges, as it seemed I had it all? In short, because I wanted to travel more. Being on the road and the culture of digital nomads deeply resonated with me so I decided to give it a try. SiteGround came up as a perfect fit for what I was looking for – a global leader in the web-related trade with a remote work friendly culture. Of course, I did not expect watersports to fit somewhere in there too.
So you can imagine my surprise when I got an email saying my first week at SiteGround will have to be on a Greek Island. The whole marketing team was going there to work remotely and learn to kiteboard and I was invited to join them! Double-checked the email and yes – that was correct. All the more proof that when you align your values and passions with your work, you will always find a way to end up in the right company. In the event with SiteGround, I could see this right from the start.
A change of scenery always boosts creativity
Over the week we had a very tight schedule – we worked full time and practised wind or kite surfing before and after work. However, the team was not exhausted. On the contrary, several people told me they never felt so inspired and productive before. For the creative type of professional, such as most of the marketing folks at SiteGround, escaping from the usual surroundings is a good way to refresh their minds and keep new ideas flowing. The new ‘atmosphere’ pushed the team to explore new solutions and work even more closely with each other. Also, coffee breaks are always better with views of a beautiful Greek Island.
Informal get-togethers bring the best out in a team
Spending the whole week with everyone also gave us the opportunity to get to know each other better. During our working hours, we had one-to-one meetings. I used them to learn more about the specifics of every team member’s work, and the team got to know more about me. We discussed what are the opportunities and the challenges each one is facing and how I can help reach our common goals. In the evening, we spent time exploring the island together and learning even more about each other’s hobbies and interests. I was greatly impressed by the dedication of the team and by their passion for what they do at SiteGround as a whole.
This unusual work/kiteboard week was the best way to get to know everyone. I also got to experience some of SiteGround’s most important values like curiosity, creativity, initiative, friendship, and fun first-hand. It made me feel part of the team and introduced me to their company culture much faster than I have ever imagined and it was also certainly the best first week I've ever had in a new organization.