Managing director, Jason Eastwood, has been with Canopies UK for 23 years.
Jason first joined the company his dad started as head of Commercial Sales in June 1996. He was part of the management buyout in 2011 before taking over from Elaine Morris as managing director in 2015.
In this instalment of our ‘Day in the life of…’ series we talk to Jason, who’s still at the helm of Canopies UK, to find out more about what his job involves, how he delivers his work and who he works with across the company.
Q. When do you typically start and finish work?
A. I work in the office most days, so my hours are usually 9am to 5pm, depending on what I have on that day. I also tend to work remotely outside of these hours, when it’s required but it usually involves the tasks I really enjoy, such as responding to emails when I have more time to deal with them properly without being interrupted, so I don’t really class it as work!
Q. What type of work do you get involved in on a day-to-day basis?
A. My main duties involve overseeing the company strategy and making sure we remain focused on the right priorities and are moving in the right direction.
As managing director, the ultimate responsibility of how the company performs lies with me, so it’s important that I keep the team all pulling in the same direction while providing support. I tend to get involved (albeit in a small way) in all sorts of day-to-day issues and, having first started off in sales, a lot of my focus still tends to be towards the sales and marketing department.
It’s, therefore, a good job that we have an excellent management team overseeing the operations and finance side of the business, although I am on hand, if needed, to help advise and guide.
Q. How do you prioritise your work?
A. I schedule any weekly tasks, project-type work and meetings into my diary to make sure they get done. As for other tasks that occur daily, I set aside time to focus on them, but if it involves responding to an email, for example, I will often leave it until I have enough time to deal with it, depending on how urgent it is.
These are the tasks I often complete outside of my normal working day. It’s impossible not to get behind some days, but I can usually get back on track the next day by starting a little earlier.
Q. Who do you work most closely with within your company (and what on)?
A. We have an excellent senior management team, who I work very closely with and enables us to stay focused and deal with any issues, such as personnel or recruitment matters, quickly as a team.
As well as holding an overall weekly meeting with them, I meet with our senior managers on a one-to-one basis once a week. These sessions can last several minutes to an hour and allow me to make sure I make time for everybody, irrespective of what else may be happening.
We also use the services of an external business consultant, who works very closely with myself. Their experience and expertise of dealing with other businesses and objective viewpoint is invaluable. We are extremely fortunate that, as a team, we have all been with the business for a number of years and are very close to it. Being provided with an external perspective is incredibly important in shaping and delivering our current and future plans.
Q. How much time do you spend off-site v in the office?
A. I work in the office every day and try to spend very little time off-site as a rule.
I did try working from home one day a week in the belief it would allow me to focus better and be more productive. However, I feel that while it is beneficial for some, I would personally rather be on hand in the office. I enjoy being involved and knowing I am there in person if I’m needed.
Q. What do you wish you could make more time for within your working schedule?
A. That’s a tough question and actually difficult to answer because I have structured my work differently over the last 18 months so that I can make time for, and keep on top of, my tasks.
One of the things I personally want to work more on is employee engagement. As I alluded to previously, we have a very low employee turnover, which suggests we are a good company to work for!
However, I want to take this one step further and really look at the ways we could improve on what’s already in place. We’ve implemented a number of initiatives to explore this area further and make changes and improvements. For instance, we now measure employee engagement, just to make sure we are on the right track and our management team have seen the positive impact it’s had on us all.
We also regularly hold Make A Difference meetings with all of our members of staff to allow everyone to have their say. We even have our own company-wide Wheel of Fortune game, which involves all members of staff nominating one of their colleagues. We decide the best nomination for that month, then the rest are put into the draw and the person that’s picked spins for a prize. It’s a definite highlight of the month and a great distraction from the normal working week, but more importantly, it gives us an opportunity to get together as a team.
But I guess, if I had the luxury of having more time, I would try to spend even more time listening to employees. While my shareholders may argue that overall company performance is the most crucial barometer of any business success, if we can continue to make Canopies UK a better place to work, then the latter will help make sure we achieve our goals.
What’s your main motivation each day?
To do the best I can and achieve the best for the business. I’m very proud to be the managing director of Canopies UK and know I am being judged on success or otherwise. I’m also the one with overall responsibility for everybody that works in the business, so their wellbeing and success and how I can influence these areas, really motivate me too.
How much time do you spend with your different teams company-wide?
I try to spend equal time with all departments and think what we have in place makes sure this does happen.
What do you find most challenging about your job?
I would say personally it’s when, for whatever reason, an employee doesn’t work out and you almost take it personally, although the reality often is that there was very little else you could have done to change that situation.
Overall, I would say recruitment has become a lot more challenging in recent years and while we are fortunate to have found all of our current employees, it’s always a challenge to find candidates who fit with our everyday values – a challenge I’m sure most businesses face.
What’s the last task you always carry out at the end of each day?
Usually finalising my ‘to do’ list for the following day and familiarising myself with information for any meetings I’m due to attend the next day.
Now that you’ve read this Canopies UK managing director Q&A blog, have you got any questions about our ways of working or perhaps you’d like to find out more about our products or discuss your canopy requirements with us? If so, contact us on [email protected] or 01254 777 002.