London-based Toby Margetts chats with us about his rewarding role at Squiz, his exciting work on the University of Salford’s matchmaker app, and playing FIFA with his mates in the UK office.
Squiz: Can you tell us a little about your role at Squiz?
Toby: I’m a strategy consultant, which basically means I work with clients to help them achieve their digital goals and objectives in the constantly changing modern world. I work on all sorts of projects, from improving basic web functionality to helping with complete digital transformations.
My expertise lies on the creative side of things, so I do a lot of work with clients to identify problems and opportunities and generate insights from that. I then use those insights to come up with a series of creative outputs that either solve those problems or take advantage of those opportunities.
How long have you been at Squiz, and what’s the best thing about working here?
It’ll be two years next month, but it feels like longer than that – in a good way!
The best thing about working at Squiz is probably the people I get to work with. They are a really smart bunch who are passionate about what they do. As a result, I feel like I’m learning something new every day.
I’ve also been lucky enough to travel a bit with work. I’ve been to New York three times, and I’ve travelled to Amsterdam and Edinburgh, too. Edinburgh is a beautiful city.
What does your typical workday look like?
I guess everyone says this, but there really isn’t a typical workday.
For example, at the moment, I’m writing a proposal for building a chatbot for one of our university clients, which is really exciting. I’m often running creative workshops with our clients to generate new and interesting ideas, which can be a lot of fun too. I also work with our UX (user experience) and design teams to give input on wireframes and concepting.
About the only guaranteed thing every day is a game of FIFA on the Xbox. We’ve got a good little group of people at work now who are getting quite good at it, so it gets very competitive!
Does the staff organise many social activities in the London office?
Due to popular demand, we’re in the process of setting up a social committee. The plan is to have a group of five or six people who are in charge of organising events and coming up with cool things we can do. There are a number of ideas knocking about at the moment.
Generally, the London office is great for that sort of thing. People are always willing to take part, and I think the staff here genuinely have a lot of friends at work, which is great. We all enjoy spending time with each other.
What are some of the challenges you face in your role?
The biggest challenge I face is also one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of my job – taking great thoughts and initial ideas from our creative workshops and turning those into something tangible that really makes a difference.
It’s so satisfying coming out of one of those workshops, during which somebody has maybe drawn a little doodle on a Post-it note, and then, many weeks or months down the road, that turns into something really great, like a brand-new website, app, or function.
What’s been your proudest achievement at Squiz?
One of the first projects I ever worked on at Squiz was the matchmaker app for the University of Salford. It’s a tool that matches prospective students with personalised course recommendations.
The university wanted some help making its clearing process student-driven and more interactive. I led a series of workshops during which we came up with the idea of a Tinder-like tool that then evolved into the Salford matchmaker, which our developers then built.
It’s made a big difference to the university’s student-acquisition rates each year. The university has received some great feedback and press coverage around it, too. So, that has probably been my proudest achievement at Squiz so far.
How did you get into your current field?
I studied public relations at university, but as soon as I finished, I realised I wasn’t too keen on that profession.
I landed my first job at a small social-media agency in Sussex, in south-east England. Coincidentally, the founder of that company is now my boss at Squiz. I worked there for a while before a larger digital agency acquired that company and moved us up to London.
Because I was now working at a much larger company, there was a lot more variety and work I hadn’t done before – skills such as content creation, idea generation, UX, design, and, of course, strategy.
As a result of that move, I gravitated towards the strategic side of things and was lucky enough to get the opportunity to give that a shot while working there. I moved from content and social media into more of a strategic role, and I’ve continued to progress from there ever since.
What advice would you have given yourself 10 years ago?
Buy Facebook stock, for sure, and don’t get those blond highlights in your hair!
On a more serious note, it would be to not worry that you don’t have it all figured out yet. I think a lot of people, particularly when they’re younger, feel that they need to have a fixed view of what they want to do and what they want to be. As I’ve gotten older and more experienced, however, I’ve realised that nobody ever really has it figured out, and that’s fine. It’s not a bad thing. It’s all about learning and growing.
What do you do in your spare time?
I’m a big sports fan. I play a lot of cricket in the summer when it’s not raining, which it often is over here. I also play a lot of football, as well as a bit of squash, tennis, and golf.
I’m a big Tottenham Hotspur supporter. Over the last few months, we seem to have hired a bunch of other Tottenham fans here at Squiz. There’s a bit of a rumour going around that it should be part of our hiring policy – which I’m all for!
I’m also big into dance music; I love going to a festival or two throughout the year. Between playing sport or being at a festival, I’m probably doing one of those two things if I’m out and about.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I’ve thought about this one before. It would definitely be the ability to teleport.
I love travelling and seeing new places, but I hate the physical act of getting to those places. I’m 6’3”, which means being on a plane for any lengthy amount of time can be pretty uncomfortable. If I could snap my fingers and be in Sydney in five seconds, that would be amazing.
Let’s say you won £10 million tomorrow in the lotto. How would you spend the money?
I’d be really sensible, and I’d invest most of it in property. Then I’d probably pay someone to do all the hard work and manage those properties for me. When I was younger, somebody told me that the key to a successful life is to have multiple sources of income if you can. So the idea of a bunch of other people paying off my mortgages for me sounds pretty sweet.
There’d also be a few impulse purchases, too. I’d probably treat myself to a new car and maybe an all-expenses-paid, five-star trip to Las Vegas with my mates.
Toby will be tweeting his week at work at @lifeatsquiz 27 February to 3 March. Follow along to see what he gets up to on a daily basis in London.