Steve James '94

Head of Marketing and Propositions at giffgaff gameplan

Course studied: Geography and Cartography

Steve James

Can you explain a bit about your current role?

I’m Marketing and Proposition Director for giffgaff gameplan. There are two sides to the job really. Firstly, I work with our members to continue creating a compelling proposition in the finance arena. Secondly, my goal is to deliver a communications strategy that allows as many members as possible to hear about the new service.

Talk us through a typical day in your current role

For me, a day can be quite variable and is generally pretty different from day to day, though we always start the day at with a project stand-up. We're a small company, so I can be doing anything from reviewing designs and adverts to writing copy or working on business cases.

How has your career developed to get you to where you are today?

My career has basically developed without much planning. Instead, I’ve not been afraid of grabbing good opportunities as they come up and just going for it. Working for a company that has such a diverse business offering has been great for that and has given me great opportunities both here and abroad.

What challenges have you had to overcome?

I've always found that the largest challenge throughout my career has been to learn how to deal with each individual person in the right way and to understand how to get inside their head and see what makes them tick.

How was your experience at Oxford Brookes University?

If I had to choose one word to sum up my time at university, it would be 'change'. The experience transformed the way I think, and helped me grow as a person and realise what my passions and strengths were.

Do you have any exam revision tips?

I’d suggest working to a plan that goes with your natural energy cycles and not against it. If you're a morning person, embrace that and don’t try and force learning in the afternoon.

What are your career highlights to date?

Two stand out above the rest: launching a mobile network in Spain and developing the idea that has now turned into giffgaff gameplan.

Where have you taken your advice and inspiration from?

Being a sponge is really important and knowing that inspiration and advice can come from anywhere, anyone and at any time is key. I've found inspiration for my current project in anything from psychology books to Sim City and mobile games, then right through to Churchill and WW2.

Do you have any advice for others?

Truly understand yourself. Without getting a grasp on yourself it's very hard to find happiness, and without being happy you'll struggle to succeed. Getting below the skin of what makes you happy, what motivates you and what makes you angry is really hard, but there are some great techniques out there. The 'chimp paradox' was the one I found really allowed me dig below the surface.

Read about Steve's giffgaff gameplan colleague and fellow Brookes alumnus, Ellis Brant