JW – looking pensive on train to Manchester

This is a story of how to ‘audition’ for a new job in digital transformation. Pull in favours from friends!

This is also a story of poor hiring policies: getting people to go above and beyond the call of duty when actually there is no job to apply for!

I’d applied to join an in-house digital transformation team. The team that is being built to drive change in a big retail conglomerate with an HQ in Dubai.

I’d had three face-to-face interviews by now, where we’d talked tech, experience and measured appropriateness for the role in Dubai. Then came the email from Group HR, asking for me to audition to be part of this business transformation. The email read:

We would like you to send us a Digital Audition through any digital medium of your choice. We would like this to be as flexible and convenient for you to complete as possible and some of the key things we are looking for from you are:

– An introduction to yourself
– What are you passionate about?
– How do you think you can impact our culture?
– What keeps you up at night
– What does transformation mean to you? How do you envisage it?

So, I made a film of me looking pensively at the world whizzing by on the train from London to Manchester (see image above). It was me as cameraman and editor, holding the iPhone, edited in iMovie.

I showed it to my great friend, Gilles, and he said, politely, “Nice. But why don’t we do it properly.” I accepted his offer.

I wrote the script, a short paragraph or two for each question. We filmed. We had some fun putting this together. That’s the way it should be, right? Then he edited it while I was away in Singapore for meetings. And so this is my Digital Audition for a well known business in Dubai:

A week later I got a message from Alex in HR saying:

Hi James, a new development has come to light as of yesterday, rather disappointing at that. I met with the hiring manager for [this role] and unfortunately we will be needing put this position on hold for the time being. There have been some major restructurings in this area and we will not be able to warrant [this role] until the political climate in Iran improves and things are more established for the business in Africa/LATAM. He said we will probably reopen during end of Q1 or Q2 so I would still like to keep in touch and we will no doubt have other roles that work with your background as well.

The feedback [for your digital audition] was very positive for thoughtfulness and creativity. Definitely my favorite of them all. Rani said he really liked it as well.

Damn. What a waste of time.

Do you agree?


PS if you’re interested, here’s the original (not final) script.

Super:  Script:
An introduction to James Welch Life whizzes past, doesn’t it. Or to be precise, it feels like its whizzing past but is it? No it’s us, we’re whizzing past life and we need to stop sometimes to take stock.

Who am I?

I’ve been learning the tricks of the digital trade for a while. Ever since Al Reis wrote his book on the 11 immutable laws of internet branding. I got that when I was a brand consultant in Hong Kong helping Cathay Pacific build its brand. We were talking about customer experience to them before CX was a thing. At the time CX just meant the airplane code, like EK for Emirates. Now CX is key to digital, to transformation, and we have to do it together, as a team.

What am I passionate about? I’m passionate about the world around us. How the digital and physical have merged. Phygital, that’s the buzz word. It’s the flip side to OmniChannel. But we don’t need more buzz words, we need more simplicity.

I’m passionate about the way more and more of us are understanding what retail & digital performance is all about these days. 

I’m passionate about getting ripped off less.

I kickstarted the Interactive advertising bureau (IAB) in the GCC. Not on my own of course.

I kickstarted the marketing society in the middle east. Not on my own of course.

I’ve created some great content. Not on my own of course.

That’s who I am. I love being part of the team. And when the time is right, leading the team to build new roads. Roads to success.

How do you think you can impact our culture? Every team needs to evolve. I can help that evolution.

Standing still is going backwards as the rest of life whizzes past.

And I love bringing the team along for the ride, explaining where we are going and how we’ll get there.

Visualisation of data is everything. If you can’t see the sales data in relation to the audience data, how can you see what’s working. Data should not be for the few, it should be democratised. Democratisation of data gives everyone a view of the digital success stories.

This can impact the culture of a business as everyone stops to look up and see the bigger picture. The digital shift. digital transformation, as a team.

What keeps you up at night? What keeps me up?

International phone calls!

And the fact that too much is happening digitally that isn’t adding real value. That harps back to the way I’m keen to drive change. That’s the elephant in the room.

And the best way to eat an elephant, as they say in Australia, is one bite at a time. Let’s eat that elephant … Oh, does that sound a bit weird? What I mean is, let’s collaborate to reach the north star!

What does transformation mean to you? How do you envisage it? Transformation is a change management story. First we have to workout what we’re changing into. Then, who needs to change. And we map the journey and communicate to all parties what’s going on. It’s a journey. It’s something we need to do together. And if we don’t do it together, we’re going to miss the boat. 

Let’s keep moving forward, as one team.