Digital DirectorConnect with Ben
What I Do
With extensive and broad experience in digital media, Ben has been creating and implementing solutions across e-learning, e-commerce and web development for over 15 years. Spending 10 years as digital director and co-founder of his own agency in Tokyo, Japan, he has worked with multinationals, industry leaders and major marketing agencies on both domestic and global projects.
His broad skill-set in business, design and development allows him to engage with projects on a variety of levels, with significant experience in the wider strategies for market entry, cross-cultural business and localisation.
A Little More.
What made you apply for a job with 5874?
Client recognition - Carluccios, Team Profiles- Rupert's and Francis'. Location - although I thought the reference to Birmingham's Silicon Canal was the area we are in now and not Digbeth). That 5874 was a BigCommerce Elite Partner, since I knew it as a competitor to Shopify and I knew the head of Shopify Japan, so it qualified to me 5874 was at a high level of ability.
What's your favourite thing about working here?
Flexibility and opportunity to implement new ideas, process and the ethos for continual improvement. The innovation mindset is promoted, encouraged and we like to try and push technologies, methodologies forward. Team are encouraged to say what they think and feel, and there's a good sense of humour ingrained with the dedication to producing good work.
In your role, what do you most enjoy and what area do you feel you excel in?
I enjoy the time when I get it to develop new ideas and try to implement them. I enjoy it when they come off and we achieve something innovative as well as pull off something that previously someone else said couldn't be done. I like improving processes and feels good when something, anything is changed or refined to be better. I'm good at finding solutions to problems often in unconventional ways, I also like getting the team AND clients onboard with going for something new and potentially not guaranteed, but the benefit of learning and especially the gains from achieving it. I'm pretty good at writing out detailed documents and boringly organising things, albeit in a way to make it useful to others. I also feel I contribute by producing maybe something another party didn't realise they needed which makes their work-life better.
What would you say is your favourite project you've worked on?
Peter Christian, because it was my first and we did a lot of things 'not possible' at the time and it had a strong visual design side we could really drive
Where do you see yourself career-wise in 5 years?
Head of Operations / Regional Head (UK or APAC) / CEO of Subsidiary / Head of R&D, New Technologies experimental unit
Who or what inspires you?
People who do their best no matter what their circumstance. My son. Act of kindness and ingenuity in all forms. Nature. Learning anything new.
Got any pets?
No, but I would do if I thought I'd be able to look after them fully. It wasn't something I could consider while living in Japan because I knew the very likely possibility of moving country and that would be crap to the pet. Some friends of family moved country and we adopted their pets, who I think affected them quite heavily even if they settled living with us. I'd rather have a semi-wild animal who decided it liked us and would hang out. I think I'd need to live in a jungle or much more rural place for that.
Tell us a little bit about yourself / family / hobbies
Probably to the level it is annoying to hear now, but I live 16 years in Japan, and that's 16 years of my adult life. It made me think differently and while I'll never BE Japanese, I can feel more Japanese in some aspects of life than what I'd consider typically British. Consequently my wife Nao is Japanese and my 3 year old son Reon, is that interesting mix. Since the arrival of Reon, all my time is spent apart from sleep is largely spent looking after him and in some respect Nao, since moving country is quite a big culture shock. My hobbies 'are' or would be based on what I used to do which was play football and captain the British Embassy Football club of Japan which I also turned into a hobby of running a football club, creating an additional team, a women's team and kind of running and developing it a club level rather than just matches. Prior to that I was a frontman in a band, and can roughly play a guitar and saxophone. I largely screamed down a microphone. I enjoy writing songs as catchy riffs and lyrically - we had an album and also set up a tour for a friend's band around Japan. Occasionally I might play video games to destress. I like swimming and most team sports. Kind of hobbies right now is finding interesting and cool places to go with family and hunt down tasty food. In small pockets of free time I try to continue to study Japanese and read books on thought, improvement and new ideas.
What's the best advice you've ever heard/been given?
I can't think of anything specifically right now 'as the best', but one comment that has always stuck with me was from a German chap called Torsten who I would play weekly football with. During the games I had released a pass to an attacker to be through on goal but they couldn't get on the end of it. Later we were discussing our performance over drinks we'd have after and I pointed out my pass to the striker and that he didn't get to it. Torsten then said 'Yes, but your pass wasn't to Rich it was to Ben. You made a pass to yourself - Ben (me) would have got to it, Rich isn't as fast as you. You should have made the pass to Rich, not Ben' And that stuck and always made me think about how I might deliver anything really to another person - whether it's information, ideas, instructions or a simple pass in a football match. The other is not a piece of advice but a story about a man who tried to walk to the Sun. And everyday he kept walking. It stayed far away on the horizon. Finally he got exhausted and gave up -- felt depressed that he'd never get there and had wasted all this time. Then as he turned he looked back and saw the incredible distance he had covered in his walk and realised at that moment that it was the goal which was important but the distance he had come. At that point he got up, turned around and continued walking towards the sun - backwards.
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