Features

24 hours With… Dominic Powers, CEO of CtrlShift

In this 24 hours with, CtrlShift CEO Dominic Powers is up bright and early for a bracing swim before taking on a long day with great gusto – not to mention the odd game of pool and some killer music

5:30am: My internal clock fires up and opens my eyes without an alarm. I rise early even on weekends. Some would call it a curse, but I like the beauty that the change between darkness and light brings. In reality it is my dogs that have conditioned me – waiting for their hikes in the hills of Sai Kung in Hong Kong, or their romps across the beaches of Phuket.

But today I am in Singapore. 

I spend two weeks a month in Singapore with the rest of my time spread across our other four offices in the region. During the week I am always in a hotel, and in Singapore it is Hotel Jen Tanglin. 

6:00am: The pool opens, so I am down and ready as the guard opens it up. Swimming for me clears the mind as all you focus on is breathing. If you don’t, you get in to trouble pretty quickly.

7:00am: I am back in the room. Is it perspiration or water from the pool that runs down my forehead? The former most likely. Avoiding any liquid on my MacBook, I check emails and catch up on global news while I cool down. Did Trump really say that?

7:15am: I head to the Horizon Club for a light breakfast. No laptop, no phone. Just a newspaper. After spending 70 plus nights here in 2017 and 40 by the end of May this year, I try not to appear like the furniture.

7:50am: In a sufficient state of coolness, I book my Grab and head to our office out at Media Circle.  

8:15am: I have always liked being in early as it gives you time to actually get work done. I turn on the lights, grab a tea and start the day. I like the quietness. 

9:30am: I have got the stuff I needed to do done. Prep for calls, presentations to the board, or writing articles for local or global industry publications.

10:00am: The deluge of meetings start. Short and long. We have a very flexible working day at CtrlShift, and if I am honest it is more about getting your job done. And the team is doing that in style.

11:00am: Meeting with a potential client who had heard about what CtrlShift was doing through a friend. Large global financial services provider born in Asia, looking to get a better understanding on how their programatic budgets are working for them. They have an agency, but not a fan of spreadsheet reports once a week:

“If we are spending in real time across multiple channels, why can’t we get insights in real time, and have our agency optimize our spends in real time? We can? Wow.”

I love these kinds of meetings. And there are many. Validation that we are in the right place at the right time to help an industry in denial.

12:30pm: Lunch time already.  About two years ago when we left Hong Kong after 20 years and moved to Thailand, I made a lifestyle change and gave up on eating lunch. I now no longer feel hungry, but love the fact I have an extra hour in the day to get stuff done. And sometimes play pool with the team. The danger with that, is that my calendar is completely full, with no breaks.

The CtrlShift team hitting a few balls around

2:00pm: Meeting with a large network agency with our super talented CTO Ganga to present The Hub. I really love the reaction we get from seasoned digital agency folks when they see what we have built. In Singapore. Under their noses:

“Is this real?”… ‘We have been talking about something like this for years but could never build it’.”

As agencies look to the future and embark on transformation journeys of their own, I feel the way forward is a return back to strategy and insights, matters that agencies have always excelled at. Leave the headaches of technology to the specialists – like us.

3:30pm: As we look to launch CtrlShift globally, meetings start with the UK. Lawyers, potential clients, and journalists trying to understand exactly what The Hub is. The closest anyone has got was to describe it as a: “Meta Everything.” Not quite right but it is starting point. More work to be done with our amazing marketing team defining a space and an offering that does not currently exist, even in the worlds of Forrester and Gartner.  

5:00pm: The days really do fly by faster than they ever have. After an afternoon of meetings with all corners of the company, another list of things to get done. As a re-founder with multiple hats, it is about getting things done. And we all do that. Multiple times a day. 

I’m a big proponent of GTD – Getting Things Done by Dave Allen. If you have not read it, do so. It helps you simplify so much. I became such a geek about it that I even built macros and AppleScripts to implement it. Let me know if you want them.

6:00pm: By now it is time to wind down. After messages (and if I am lucky FaceTime) with my very understanding wife Jacqui, and our daughters Audrey in Thailand, Catherine in London, and Francine somewhere in Asia, I get ready for dinner plans. Once a week I try to do something with friends or industry colleagues. OK, maybe more than once a week.

10:00pm: Drinks and dinner done. Music has always been a big part of my life, and it is rare that I don’t end the day with some good tunes and my Bose headphones listening loud. Tonight it happens to be Thandiswa Mazwai, and Zabalaza. Not so well known out of her native South Africa, but an amazingly soulful lyricist, with a voice that sends tingles down the spine. If you are interested, here’s the link.

11:00pm: Life is good. Especially when working with an amazing bunch of people who share a vision of  fixing a broken adtech ecoystem. I switch off the lights and look forward to another great day.

3:00am: Wait a minute. Got to write that down. That. Is. A. Good. Idea. At. Least. To. Me. Send a message to Ganga, our very patient CTO.

Dominic Powers is chief executive officer at CtrlShift, an adtech company headquartered in Singapore

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