In conversation with Wayne Sime - Episode 1 - Inspiring the Next CMO podcast

Updated: Apr 19

What good is an idea if it can't be shared? Our company was founded to foster collaboration and share ideas. The more you share your ideas, the more impact they have on the world around you. We provide resources to inspire progression in the community. As marketers, we are stronger and better together. We've relaunched our Behind the Fluff podcast and are bringing you our FIRST EVER podcast for the Inspiring the Next CMO series.

Join me in a conversation with Wayne Sime, an industry chief executive. It's certainly full of laughs, Wayne talks about how he went up the ranks from starting in IT to libraries to then a professional member body, Captain Sir Tom Moore, his love of Terry Pratchett, key takeaways and even a history lesson about Henry VIII! Discover helpful insights to help you progress your career. Links from the session (Amazon affiliate links may be used below).

Podcast: Website, iTunes, Podbean, Spotify, Google


Podcast channel: Website, Google Podcast, iTunes, Podbean, Spotify


Louise: Welcome everybody. This is the first-ever podcast that we're having for Behind the Fluff, our new podcast, and we've got this absolutely brand new series, which is called ‘Inspiring the Next CMO’. I am absolutely delighted to have Wayne Sime with me. Wayne is a chief executive in the industry and I've known Wayne for several years now and he's absolutely brilliant. So hello, Wayne.

Wayne: Hi, Lou. Nice to be here.

Louise: Thanks so much for taking the time to join us. We're now going to run through a series of questions and you're going to answer those, and hopefully people will be able to have some nice takeaway advice but also get to know you better. Shall we begin?

Wayne: That sounds good to me.

Louise: Great. The first thing that I'm actually going to ask you is a couple of icebreaker questions. And the first one is: we have a campaign where we send out every day, a word of the day, and it's under the hashtag, #intbunchwordoftheday. Now, my question to you - the first one ever - is what is your word of today and what does it mean? What is your favourite word?

Wayne: My favourite word out of what you've been sending out was ‘gadabout.’ I just think after lockdown, I'm hoping we're all going to be like social butterflies. I'm going to flit from one social event and activity to another, so I chose gadabout about because I think that's something we will all want to do. And who knows? After we've been gadding about for, I don't know, probably a month, we might think, ‘Oh, I wish I could be sitting, back in front of the TV, watching box sets.’ Who knows?

Louise: Netflix, or any other streaming service out there. Absolutely. I miss social networking face to face so much. I can’t wait. Brilliant, okay.

What's the best thing that you have discovered in the last year?

Wayne: I do like walks, I have to say, and we have a dog, Tallie. 15 minutes’ walk from my front door there's a wood called Martin's Wood, and we discovered the bluebells there. It was magical and charming and it took me back to my childhood. It was just simply as far as the eye could see, it was completely covered in bluebells. So I think that was the best thing I discovered during lockdown.

Louise: That’s so lovely. They don't last very long do they?

Wayne: They don't. We did take pictures on the cameras and stuff. It was just when we were shut in during that first lockdown period and life was a bit pants, wasn't it really?

Louise: For those who are in the US, thinking why are we saying the word ‘pants’, it is a very UK-centric saying, and of course, pants in the US is trousers, whereas pants in the UK is knickers or underpants.

Wayne: Let’s keep with the American understanding; trousers sounds much better.

Louise: It does. So, who inspires you?

Wayne: Well, I think people at different points in your life. I think you can take inspiration from a variety of people and I would say, over the last year, it was Captain Sir Tom Moore. Wasn't it just really inspiring? And I think the fact that you had that service from the second world war and his age, so yes, that was the person who really inspired me recently, but as I said, you get inspiration from many different people over your lifetime, but that's the most recent.

Louise: Absolutely. And that's the way that you keep on learning as well and progressing. What an incredible man he was and many other people who are of similar age to him, he also inspired to do similar things. So if you haven't heard of Sir Tom Moore, he was a very well-loved man in the UK who had his 100th birthday and he wanted a challenge before his 100th birthday, which was to do 100 laps of his garden.

Wayne: It was and he raised over £32 million, which is amazing, for the NHS - for the National Health Service here in the UK.

Louise: It was incredible, and then, unfortunately, not very long ago he passed away from pneumonia and COVID, so a bit of a sting in the tail, but yes, what an incredible man. Even my 3 year old knows who he is and that he passed away and I hope she'll always remember him. I love that. So, when you were young,

Wayne: Yes, all that time ago.

Louise: Yes, for us all. I've got visions in my head now of you in some kind of little outfit. So what did you want to be? I'm thinking of Superman or something.

Wayne: When I was younger, I actually wanted to be an explorer. I remember seeing all these images and the map of the world and images in books of far-flung places, and I just thought it'd be great to go and explore. So when I was very young I just wanted to explore. It wasn't like I wanted to climb Mount Everest or anything like that, I just wanted to go and explore the world. That's how I’d put it, it wasn't like I wanted to go to Antarctica or anything like that.

Louise: Well who knows where your adventures would take you, Wayne? They could’ve taken you anywhere.

Wayne: I was fortunate that when I was a teenager that we did a youth exchange, North Hampshire Association Youth Clubs did an exchange with Hong Kong Federation of Youth Clubs. And yes, I went to Hong Kong and that's where I met my future wife. What can I say? So there you go.

Louise: it was meant to happen – fate. I was thinking about your wife this morning about when I first met her at the ALPSP conference dinner, and what a lovely, lovely person she is.

If you were to have dinner tonight with anyone in the world, whether they are alive or dead, from any time, who would it be?

Wayne: If I was alive or dead, I think I would choose, and this will sound a bit random, but I would actually choose a Tudor monarch, preferably Henry VIII before he had his riding accident when he was stable and not a despot and a tyrant. I love that period of history; I think it's because at that time it was England, Wales and Ireland, but they had the vision of how they wanted their country to be. I mean, it was really insignificant little islands off the north of France that weren’t really a major powerhouse. I just think that the values that we have actually today could stem back to that particular period of time, whether you like them or not. Henry VIII had his first Brexit - what can we say?

Louise: They did a lot more than Brexit!

Wayne: They did a lot more than Brexit with his break from Rome, etc. I think that would be quite a mentally stimulating evening.

Louise: There would certainly be a lot of food.

Wayne: A lot of food. And I was just like to get behind what made them tick. They had obviously just came out of a 100 Years Civil War, so I imagine that would have coloured their judgment about how they wanted to unite the country and move forward, but I think that would be quite an interesting evening. That's who I would choose.

Louise: Fantastic. I love that. I was not very good at paying attention at school so I did not know that he had a riding accident. So I'm actually going to look that up because now I'm older, educationally I'm a lot better. I've done a lot more for myself than when I was younger and I didn't want to go to school.

Wayne: I won't give too much of a spoiler, but basically, during the first part of his reign he was very sane, very statesman-like, and all that kind of thing, then he had a terrible riding accident and his leg never healed, then he became a dictator and a despot basically. It’s like a monarch of two halves, do read up about it.

Louise: Definitely. It sounds fascinating.

Wayne: I always loved history at school.

Louise: I just loved going out.

Wayne: You probably had more fun though.

Louise: I did have a lot of fun, but then I got sent back to England from Malta to have an education. There are consequences.

Okay, so tell me about your career and how you got to where you are today being CEO.

Wayne: Well, I actually started work in the late 80s. I began actually as a trainee computer operator, and initially, back in the 80s, for those who can remember that far. Before we went into COVID, I was at a conference and we were having discussions in small groups and this lady asked me, did I remember the 90s? I mean, it made me feel like 110! Do you remember the ‘90s? As if that was like the last century. Anyway, I digress, but yes I started there, and at that time, I know it's hard to imagine but IT was really cutting edge, really exciting. It's where all the cool kids wanted to hang out, so, yes, so I was very much drawn to that area. I was very fortunate because, I remember at the time I found out that there were 300 applicants for that one job. And when we went to the final interview, there were three of us and one of them had a HND in computer studies and then another one had 3 years’ experience and there was me; this was my first job, I had no experience at all, and I got it.

After I was made permanent and I’d got my feet under the table, I remember asking the Computer Operations Manager, why did you pick me? He made two points: his first one was to say he didn't want somebody telling him how to do the work. He wanted to tell them how to do it, which I thought was an interesting take on management. The second point was that as things were evolving, that the computer operations, the computer staff and the technology staff had to integrate more with the business, and when you looked at the people employed in IT, they didn't really have very good communications ability. And so he said, I wanted somebody who didn't know anything about IT and I wanted somebody who was a really good communicator, so that's why you got the job. That always stuck with me, right from the beginning. So yes, I think having good communication.

Louise: Yes, and his management style stuck with you.

Wayne: Indeed. You have to have a bright light, but just don't burn too brightly as it might upset others, but basically I was then promoted. You had Trainee Operator, Computer Operator, Advanced Operator, and I just went up through the ranks. Then they had a big reorganization within the company and it was moving about 100 miles away, so they were amalgamating things. An opportunity came up for a Senior Archivist for a disaster recovery site, but they also wanted to centralize their archive