Lunch & Learn: Gavin Patterson, CEO @ BT Retail by Sorcha

On occasions throughout life you meet someone special, someone who really makes a lasting impression on you. As part of The Marketing Academy, it’s not uncommon for those moments to present themselves more than once a day. You are on inspiration overwhelm and it’s a wonderful, energizing feeling.

I was lucky enough to experience that twice last week, starting with fantastic mentoring with Michele McGrath (COO at Brand Learning) and an equally brilliant Lunch & Learn with Gavin Patterson (CEO of BT Retail). In the spirit of feeding forward, here’s a taster of some of the wisdom I left equipped with after meeting Gavin.

YOUR TEAMS – Diversity and Trust
Build your teams with valuable individuals that bring diversity. Not just in the obvious sense (like gender) but diversity in thinking. Have a creative, a customer champion, an optimist, a cynic who will challenge you and your ideas. Combined with great leadership, this meeting of different minds can result in more innovative thinking and ultimately better business decisions.

Another vital element to a great team dynamic is trust. If you can achieve this, individuals will be less distracted with an inwardly focus and instead they are free to focus outwards and on building value in their role. One ingredient for achieving this is picking the right people. Look for people who are capable of bonding, who will share experiences and open up with their team. As a leader, it’s then your responsibility to build and foster an environment of trust. Which brings me on to the next point…

LEADERSHIP – Authenticity
Leadership is primarily about authenticity, a well-founded mantra shared by The Marketing Academy. Don’t try to be something you’re not naturally, people will see through it. This advice reminds me of the old Emerson quote “What you are shouts so loud in my ears I cannot hear what you say” – a principle that self-evident in life. This links nicely back to the point earlier on trust. Real relationships with depth and trust cannot be built without being authentic. Be clear on your values and behave with integrity to them.

Understandably, there may be times when what is felt by your behavior is not what was intended. It’s important to be open to feedback from your team so you can learn how you come across and better understand your own leadership style.

Early on in your career, try to get experience working for a great company – somewhere you can learn the ropes of business and be surrounded by brilliant people that you can learn from and aspire to be.

However, don’t take the easy path. Seek out opportunities that stretch you, broaden your perspective and give you exposure to new experiences. I really believe in this professionally and personally. It’s those times when you are stretched that build character strength and wisdom. It also echoes a belief from Debbie Klein (another inspiring mentor) who is a great believer in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

Later, it’s these experiences that will help you make good, balanced decisions and more efficiently. And if you make more right decisions than wrong, you will always get a second chance.

I’ll end with a heartfelt thank you to Sherilyn, Camilla and Michaela for making this all possible.


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