Back in 2018 when Ash Schofield was first asked to take over the CEO hot seat at mobile network Giffgaff, he was pretty confident everything he’d been doing so successfully as CMO would feed straight into the daily functions of a chief exec.
“Oh yeah, 100%,” he remembers now with a smile.
It didn’t work out quite like that, but the transition was a pleasingly smooth one, helped in no small part by the culture at Giffgaff. Schofield had always centred much of his marketing approach around the spirit and energy of the brand, its strong engagement with its members (as opposed to customers) and the quality of the insight coming from that relationship. All things that have formed the bedrock of his work as CEO.
“It’s interesting when I look back,” he reflects. “I joined the business nearly eight years ago in the position of CMO and loved it. It was a great job, the company was growing, we were getting scale, it was really exciting and there were certain things that I did as a CMO that just felt right. But it’s amazing how, when you just change seats, you instantly get a very different perspective on things.”
Schofield had something of an epiphany on his way home one night after realising that, with over half of his staff in tech-related roles, he was effectively running a tech company.
“We had quite a lean, creative marketing team and had been driving a lot of that brand narrative for business, but I felt compelled to stop and listen more to the voice of technology and to what they could bring to the conversation,” he explains.