"Hey, what do you do all day?" ● is a question I get asked quite a lot. It's only relatively recently that I've started to share some snippets of my daily life via Instastories - but before this, I liked to keep my personal life and work life quite separate. Why? Because, I can be quite black-and-white about certain things and merging my private (personal) life with my work (public) life just seemed logical. It's not like I'm a different person or anything (at least I don't feel like I am), but I just like to switch-on when it's work and switch-off when it's not. Some of my pals are the opposite - work and life continuously merges: they live with colleagues, colleagues have become some of their best friends, and colleagues have even become their families (marriage, babies, the whole shebang). As much as I try and keep these two worlds distinctly apart, there's no denying that work is another big part of my life, and now feels the right time to let a lil bit of that "white noise" work-mystery go.
White Noise. (noun) ● noise containing many frequencies with equal intensities.
I was chatting to a pal about this the other weekend and as he was describing my daily disappearing act, it reminded me of white noise - "there must be a lot going on where you work but I can't really decipher what exactly it is that you do" from when I walk into the front doors of the office to when I walk out. So I thought what better way to break up this white noise than with a little bit of Through The Keyhole.
"Good morning" ● I usually get up at around 6am, sometimes earlier because my body seems to love waking me up at random times. I can get ready and out the door in about 30 minutes - bag and lunch (if I'm organised) packed the night before.
7.45 - 9am ● I can arrive at any point within this gap and first stop will be to grab a coffee. If it's a PT day, then I'll head to the office gym after I've had my first hit of caffeine.
9am-12pm ● I'm either at my desk looking through and answering emails, reading articles, or in meetings about this that and the other (more on this in a jiffy).
12-1pm ● I always try and take time out for lunch, away from my desk. I used to be awful at this but in the last year, desk-lunches have gone down dramatically. Helped by my current team who lunch together to catch up on news, progress of projects, and conversations we've had with our clients that day. If we're at our client offices, I will 99.9% of the time have the roast chicken (it's huge and bangin'), with rice (because I'm still Malagasy), and salad (because #balanceddiet innit). I've become so predictable that I don't even have to say what I want anymore when I arrive at the counter - my chef-pal just knows me now. And if I'm in our office, I try to bring my own lunch because our café food is not really the one.
1-6pm ● I'll be back at my desk working on a project, or planning meetings for the coming week or two, and checking in with elements of anything I'm currently working on (via meetings, coffee catch-ups, or phone calls). It's 100% a desk job, nothing revolutionary.
"Good evening" ● The minute the day is over (between 5-7pm usually), I completely blank out work as much as I can. I go to my dance classes, meet friends for dinner, head home to cook, or binge-out on whatever series I'm currently on (at the moment it's Grey's Anatomy - Season 9, Episode 9 - and it is sooo good). And if I'm feeling in need of extra TLC, then I'll have a bubble bath and hot chocolate before I head to bed. Sound familiar?
As for what my actual day-job is, it's not the easiest to explain but I'll give it a go - in hopefully as little corporate jargon as I can (wish me luck). Basically, I help businesses in the retail industry become more profitable through understanding their business' performance, how their customers behave, and giving them easy to understand recommendations from what I've learnt through looking through the data we have access to. I've been at the same company since I graduated 7 years ago and have worked on all sorts of brands (from bread, to cosmetics, to toothpaste, to beer) and facing into a variety of teams within our main retailer partner. Currently, I'm learning about and specialising in Online retail - how it works, what challenges there are for businesses who want to reach customers Online, and how I can help my client have a stronger Online business. Working with data can sound a little bit intense and super-geeky, but I've always found it fascinating: finding out what people are actually doing when they shop, rather that basing what I think on what they say they do. All customers (me included) are fickle, which means the retail industry is always evolving, and at speed - both in terms of what customers want, what retailers and brands can offer them, and what business analytics can be used to make sense of the massive amounts of data we generate everyday - so it keeps everyone on their toes.
I usually get a mixed reaction when I tell people what I do for a living.
- There's no doubt that I am part of a massive machine supporting capitalism - i.e. if I can tell businesses what their customers are doing, we can most definitely find ways to lock-in those customers to our products and shops, essentially growing the profit we make for our shareholders. However, I am also hopefully making customers' shopping experiences with the businesses I work with that little bit better - we live in a world full of STUFF and if someone else can help us decipher through that mass of stuff then it's usually appreciated (well, I appreciate it anyway).
- I do understand people's immediate nervousness though when I explain that I can understand patterns in their behaviour (not specifically of course but as an anonymised group of people) - but the reality is, we as individuals and organisations generate data faster than we'll ever be able to analyse it. Every time you use your mobile, or buy something with your credit card, or go to see your GP - data about you is being collected every time. But that data means nothing unless someone decides to look at it and try to understand it. This is where the company I work for comes in - we try and make sense of this data for our clients.
- On the other side, a lot of people are also fascinated by it - because it's a bit like solving a puzzle, a puzzle that is ever evolving and impacts each and every one of us on a daily basis (whether we like it or not). So you can either get to know it, or you can live in ignorance and have it happen to you anyway.
I may be doing a job some people aren't very comfortable with - but the truth is, money really does make the world go round. We generate data all the time (most of it via that extension of your arms - your mobile phone). That's how big this is. Also, businesses and organisations (public and private) have been collecting data about us from way back when. What do you think Financial Advisors look at at your bank when you apply for a credit card or a loan? Or your GP when you go in for a check-up or to pick up that prescription? It's all captured, and stored somewhere - some of it never to be accessed again, and some of it to be used to either 1) better tailor services for you as an individual (based on your feedback, and behaviour when engaging with it) or 2) give you rewards that are relevant to you as a customer to these services (that's right guys, if you like those coupons, get on-board the data analysis train). So, I might as well be in the game than watch it happen to me in blissful ignorance.
Now that the professional stuff is out of the way, what else happens when I'm at work? ● well, here are seven things that are very likely to occur on my days in the office.
we taste cheese. ● I am very lucky to be in a team that loves: cheese. Monday afternoons are therefore made for cheese tastings - either from people's travels (Siro is from Italy and the cheese in this picture is direct from the motherland) or from a discovery on our weekend travels (I practically live in a cheese shop so it just happens). Either way, we gather for about 15-30 mins to eat cheese, chat about cheese, and drool over cheese.
we play #rudeornot ● My team-pal Chris introduced himself as a lover of GIFs on his first day, and since then, our team WhatsApp group is just filled with GIFs galore. It's like a GIFs party for the GIF enthusiasts of this world - which I love. However, we have now taken it to another level: GIFs that we have to guess whether they are "rude or not". This is probably not appropriate to explain in detail but if you're interested, holler at your girl.
we accidental traffic-light ● When I turned 30 (see post Happy Thirty for the ramblings) one piece of wisdom I received was "Your 30s are about bold colours and bold decisions". So, I decided to try and implement Bold Fridays in our team to get everyone to wear any colour other than grey, black, white or brown. I have nothing against these colours, but a little colour does cheer up our Fridays ready for the weekend - especially when we accidentally turn up and manage to form a human traffic light, LOLz.
we try to understand each other better ● If you've met me in person, you will know that I am quite... hyper. On top of that, I am quite... tactile. I will touch people, hug people, stroke people's hair, and wrap myself around them if I am allowed. Funnily enough, not everyone in the office is like me - or wants to be touched by me (sad times, I know - who wouldn't want that). This then results in a lot of back-and-forth banter which is fun but also educational - repeat: I cannot just touch people whenever I want, because some people like their personal space. Even if I think they secretly enjoy it, I cannot roll around on people without agreement. Heh heh heh.
we learn how to be millennials. ● Our two bosses continuously make fun of us for always being on our phones - chatting about GIFs, and Instagram, and Snapchat, and whatnot. I am in the process of teaching my power-of-two Krishna how to use WhatsApp (and where to find GIFs) - she is probably the least millennial of Team Millennial but I admire her enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. Anyway, I've decided our bosses make fun of us "the smartphone generation" mainly because they are jealous. Being a millennial is hard ya know - we have to keep up with all of these technological changes (when's the next iPhone coming out? can it take selfies like an actual profesh camera? and other questions), yet still act "normal" and "human" or something. Our bosses have no idea what it's like for us - like, seriously. No idea.
we snack-attack. ● When I first joined this new team, my boss Matt introduced me to the Snack Box. That's right, he's lured us all in with snacks and we cannot deny him of this (mainly because none of us have any will power - unless the snacks are sh*t, in which case we have a lot of will power). But this is not just any old snack box, this is a Matt-ified Snack Box. There are rules, that's right, rules. When it is your turn to be on the snack box challenge, you have to adhere to the rules.
- Make sure you buy enough snacks to fill up the whole box (no halfsies)
- Spend a maximum of £10
- Multipacks only allowed, with individually wrapped goods
- The more packs per multipack the better
- Do not spend more than £1 on any multipack
- Do not cheat by buying Everyday Value tat - brands are respected
- If you can throw in something healthy but still tastes naughty, then bonus points
Some people (cough-Amrit-cough) are rogue, and some people are super-snack buyers (oh heyyy Sara and Chris and Matt) - but obviously the best snack buyer is me. Just saying. See above for proof.
we play games. ● Work would be such a drag if you didn't have a little fun while you were at it. I feel lucky that I've worked in a company where the teams I've worked in have been a properly fun bunch. They are one of the reasons I actually enjoy going to work - otherwise, what's the point? Our team is also headed up by an ultimate prankster and games-master so it's genuinely never a dull day. Any businesses reading this post - take note on employee retention yeah. LOLz.
At the end of it all, I can try and keep work and personal life separate but a little bit of it will always intertwine - because as I always say: we spend the majority of our time on this planet either 1) working, 2) eating, or 3) sleeping so we may as well try and enjoy at least 2 out of the 3. Luckily, I enjoy all 3. Because I'm an entitled and spoilt Millennial.
🙆 See y'all soon!