Saturday, 8:26am, Los Feliz, Hollywood, California
A few weeks ago I received a call from Angelina Jolie who invited me over to her humble abode in Los Feliz. I guess she must have remembered me from the reception following her War Child lecture late last year that Marc interpreted. Anyway, to cut a long story short, before I knew it, I was whisked away on a private jet to find myself sitting in the back garden of Angelina’s house, sipping a homemade Detox Intensifier juice carefully crafted by her abundance of helping hands.
So what brought this on, you may be asking yourselves? Well, following her health ordeals Angelina developed an interest and an appetite for management studies, and what better way to delve into this topic that interviewing the blogger behind The Executive Kitchen.
Angelina Jolie: What is it about management that really interests you?
Me: Well Angelina, my interest in management originates from not having any formal management teaching, yet be in a position of management with significant responsibilities. If I can do what I did in my previous career without any management training, I cannot help to think what can I do in my current job with management training? Of the modules we’ve covered so far, I’ve been fascinated by power and politics, organisational change and motivation. From a work perspective, I’m interested in developing as a knowledgeable, thoughtful and passionate leader.
AJ: Are there specific issues that you want to develop or change about management?
Me: I’d like everyone who is a line manager to go through some kind of management training. I think it’s absolutely necessary, as responsible employers, to equip our staff with the adequate skills and tools to be successful in their jobs. Line management is generally just thrown at you and if you’re good you’ll earn the respect of your team. If you’re terrible at it, your team will suffer for as long as you’re their manager. And believe me, I’ve seen and experienced both.
AJ: What is the fascination of managing for you?
Me: I guess now that I’m in a senior management position what fascinates me about management is the fact that I’m not only responsible for the commercial success of the organisation I work for, but I’m also responsible for a large team of individuals. I feel that if I make the wrong decision and take us down blind alley, the consequences could be catastrophic. Actually, this happened to the Creative Director of my previous company – and he lost his job, despite being one of the founders and shareholders! So it’s even more important for me to make the right strategic decisions. I want us to be successful and I want everyone I work with to do well. A key aspect of management is to get all these things right, and I’ll tell you, it’s not an easy task. Sometimes you have to keep doing what you believe is right, even if the money isn’t instantly materialising.
AJ: Is it just a matter of your job or are there wider factors at play?
Me: Primarily it’s just a matter of my job. But one of the curiosities about learning is that, for me, it opens up the appetite for more learning. When something interests me to the point of fascination my brain going into warp speed and I find myself looking at things I would never consider before. Like doing a PhD in organisational behaviour or power.
AJ: Are there some things relevant to management which you’re already good at that you’d like to build on?
Me: The thing about management Angelina is that if you reach a senior management position it’s generally an indication (but not always) that you are good at what you do and that you have at least basic leadership qualities. I guess in my case I’d like to think that I’m a good listener, I tend to think about things for a while before acting, I’m good at analysing complex situations and can communicate them in clear and simple terms. I also like to think that I’m a people’s person, which generally means that other people enjoy working with me. Although I have been described as blunt and demanding in the past! Not in the same sentence and by two different people, though!
AJ: Is there a career move that you would like to make?
Me: No, I just started my new job 8 months ago and I love it. I have no desire to try something else, in fact, my hands are pretty full at the moment just doing what I’m currently doing. We’ll see what happens in the future. If I do my job really well maybe we will be sold to some large multi-national, but what I’ll do then will have to remain unknown until the day it happens. If it ever happens.
AJ: Do you want to change your specialist/technical professional identity and outlook, and move more fully into general management?
Me: Well Angelina, I’m a scientist by training and throughout my career I have worked in a variety of scientific, editorial, managerial and commercial roles. I guess the final piece is general management and studying towards this MBA and working as sales and marketing director could potentially be a step in that direction. Or perhaps I’ll mix this with academia and get that coveted PhD and teach one day a week at LBS. But I’ll be honest with you, sometimes I just want to travel the world, eat out and work out! Like you!
AJ: What would you like to change about your position at work and the responsibilities you current have?
Me: Nothing. As I’m fairly new to this type of STM publishing I need to grow my industry knowledge. Publishing has been through a major change as a result of the technological drive of the internet and I’m definitely still in learning mode.
AJ: Are there some things to do with managing which you’d just like to be better at?
Me: This is a tricky question, and I’m not sure if I can answer it objectively. I guess one thing I’d like to improve is that I’d always like to be on top of things. I hate the feeling of having too many things to do, or not doing things properly. So time management, I guess. And perhaps being stricter and not allowing myself to be pulled in so many different directions! But perhaps this is a question to ask my team or boss!
This is a fictional interview between me and Angelina Jolie. If you are reading this and are Ms Jolie’s publicist or manager or if you are Angelina Jolie, please don’t take offence. I needed a creative outlet for the reflective practice of my mini-research project (EBI) at the OU.