Podcast: Duncan Rutherford, Head of Ecommerce, EE

February 8, 2024 Sophie Colquhoun

Our latest Industry Leaders episode is out now with Duncan Rutherford, Head of Ecommerce at EE.

EE is on a mission to be the most personal and customer-focused brand in the UK and Duncan came onto our podcast to share exactly how they're doing it! 

From how they're innovating retail customer experiences to the future of Ecommerce and the exciting things happening at EE, we cover it all. Plus, the number one skill he hires for his team, and how a project he started in college helped open doors for hip hop artists including Kendrick Lamar!

It's one not to be missed as we delve into understanding your customer and all the different ways you can meet their needs. 

Listen to the full episode below or search Industry Leaders wherever you get your podcasts
You can also read the interview below: 

Sorcha: Hello and welcome to The Industry Leaders podcast, I’m Sorcha O’Boyle and on the show with me today is Duncan Rutherford, Head of Ecommerce at EE. Now, EE are on a mission to become the most personal consumer brand in the UK, which we'll talk about in a couple of minutes. Before we get to that, Duncan, welcome to the show. How are you doing?

Duncan: I'm really well. Thank you so much for having me as well. Honestly, it is a real pleasure and a privilege to be here and get to chat to you today about some of the exciting things that we're doing within EE and the extended BT family. Really good.

Sorcha: Yeah, brilliant, I'm delighted to have you here. Could you just set the scene for us a little bit, Duncan? What exactly is your role and what is the story with EE? I know there's been a lot of new changes and exciting things going on. If you can maybe tell us a little bit about that?

Duncan: Yeah, massive changes. My role head of e-commerce is a job title, I suppose, but it's augmented over the years in terms of my roles and responsibilities. Ultimately within EE, I look after a specific part, the consumer electronics open market retailing business, ee Store, the domain store.ee.co.uk, which formerly for people who may be aware and obviously the relationship we've had with our partners has been BT Shop, which was shopbtcom. In the summer of last year, July we made the decision to support some huge gaming initiatives that we had a big category market push that we had that we were going to move the BT Shop branding to EE Store to facilitate this concept of open to everyone. It's the ability for EE to start to communicate with customers and allow customers to purchase who were not necessarily with EE or previously BT, for a contract of mobile or broadband et cetera and so changing that branding in the summer meant that we were able to really go into a new sphere of opening the brand up in a more engaging way and enable us to get into a position where we were able to take a lot of the capability that BT Shop had had previously and bring that to life under the new brand at a really pivotal time for our organization.

My role essentially within that covers, obviously, all the e-commerce, so everything that takes place on the website, so the products, brands that we bring to life, the offers, promotions that we take to our customers, and then the go to market strategy and the campaign channel management that takes place with our marketing teams to be able to put that into all of the channel mixes that we have, whether that's managing our customers who find us organically, whether they come in through a paid search mechanism, our affiliate partnerships and our referrals, right the way through to our email-based social CRM management so literally anyways in which our customers find those products and services and it's then our job to convert them, bring them to the site and hopefully ensure they have a fantastic experience with EE.

Sorcha: Right, and how have customers responded to the rebrand so far?

Duncan: Well as you can imagine, BT have owned EE as a brand since around 2016, 2016, 2017, I think it was and so very separate, to begin with we didn't really talk about the two brands together because they're two huge entities in their own right, obviously speaking to consumers. But over the last two years you've probably started to see the BT and EE brands converge a little bit more. So if you're a BT customer, you can get offers on EE. If you're an EE customer, you can get offers on BT. Very much a best of both tech mentality. So I think we'd already started to tee customers up a little bit over the last couple of years. They were part of the same family and I think that's a really important thing to talk about, because what we genuinely want to give customers BT's familiar with broadband provider, EE's familiar as a mobile provider you really can get the best of both within this organization, and I think that, because we've done some of that work, when we then quite quickly actually migrated the BT shop brand into EE store branding, we were able to utilize some of that same messaging about being part of the same family, extending the benefits, broadening the reach of capability and products and services in which you could buy from the brand. So we had some really good narrative conversations to have with customers.

That said, change is difficult. You know customers who'd known the BT brand for a long time, you know potentially different demographics of customers react to it in slightly different ways and I think it was really important that we tailored our messaging. If you knew BT shop before, or a BT customer, if you're obviously familiar with EE and you're an EE customer, or if you're just a customer that's looking to browse and buy consumer electronics, it really doesn't matter. We're here for you and I think that that was a really important message. To start landing that the brand ‘EE does more’ is kind of the narrative that you're hearing a lot of now, and I think this is a really important stepping stone in that relationship to start to enable customers to realize that the BT brand and the EE brand were really trying to come together and give you a much better, more rounded experience across lots of different product categories. But there's no doubt, as I say, change is difficult.

Bringing customers on that journey takes time. You know new customers coming in and we've had some fantastic customer acquisition numbers since we've rebranded. That's really encouraging. It's really important that we take our existing base, people who bought technology from us over the last three years under the BT brand. How do they react when they come back? How do they feel? How do we make that seamless? I think what was really important was making sure that we built an experience that could continue to log in in the same way. They could view all our order history in the same way. They could feel like the experience was connected. It's just the brand that we were leading was with different. You know the teams that manage it is still the same. The people who've supported you through previous purchases are still the same. I think that was a really important factor. I hope that was a really important factor in customers coming on that journey with us.

Sorcha: Yeah, for sure. And how did you bring all of your different teams into that kind of journey and creating that narrative for customers? Because that's quite a difficult thing to do, you know, bringing e-commerce, marketing, finance, all those teams pulling together how did you manage that?

Duncan: I think it helps that we've got a really clear corporate strategy now and I hate the term corporate in some respects, but you know, as a group we know the direction of travel that we're heading in and that E is going to be our lead brand and I think that there's excitement there within teams whereby they see that there is a vision that's very clear. And, yes, there's a journey to go through and there's going to be challenges along the way, but I think that people were already bought into the overall narrative, and I think building excitement and showcasing how that's going to happen for our broadband customers, going to happen for our mobile customers actually, how can it happen for the consumer electronics retailing part of the business? And it's never easy because you've got to bring lots of teams together very quickly. But I think once people understood the vision, the fact that we were about to go to market with a huge gaming campaign to promote the fact that gaming specifically has a hugely important pillar for us as an organization, you know you could come to EE now. You could add it to your bill, as you've always been able to through the Fantastic Ad to Plan facility, but you could also Now Buy This if you're anyone, it didn't matter if you were with another provider, or you were just out there in the open market. We were opening our doors and I think, getting our people excited about that, just that reach, that breadth, the way that we were trying to take what we've done in maybe quite a small silo and just branch that out and make it more aware for the UK market.

I think it was just so exciting that people just got behind it. And I think when you get that momentum and that excitement, you just end up in a position where it's not organic by any stretch, but you build the momentum behind it. And I think communications are really important. One right If you're going to one land, the reason you're doing this specific plan, two to be in a position where you're able to then articulate to people how it's going and then, when you completed it, showcase how you did it. And I think you know if you can encapsulate that kind of storybook you know, start, middle end. It really helps in terms of keeping people on path, on plan and kind of motivated behind such a big change.

Sorcha: Yeah, yeah, definitely. And can you tell me a little bit about this thing about being the most personal consumer brand in the UK? I find that really, really interesting. Can you tell me what exactly does that mean for EE, and then we'll talk about how you're doing it?

Duncan: It means going beyond what we've been historically known for. So BT has always been known, as you know, your fixed line broadband provider best in the UK. EE has always been known as your mobile provider best in the UK, best network 10 years running. I mean these kind of fundamentals have never been more widely known. And as an infrastructure partner, no one can dispute a residential level, whether it be mobile or fixed, that we're number one in that space. But obviously the relationship you have with the telecommunications provider. It became really important during COVID, during the pandemic, if you remember, obviously people working from home, this type of thing where you're not engaging directly, not all in the office together, people realized how critical that infrastructure is and that's great. But actually you need to step beyond that as a provider of services to showcase that there's more breadth and we need to be able to talk to customers about the infrastructure is important, the devices used on that is important, but actually what people use as devices for it is quite important. And, moving into that, how we're trying to address it. You've probably seen over the last three months, since we've launched new EE, this concept of home, work, learn and game, having four pillars that really start to unlock conversations with parents, with children themselves, who utilize these devices, the pitfalls and perils that a network gives you access to. You know in terms of online and then how people work from home, how people want to game and engage and how people want to have fun with their connectivity. And I think if we can have more richer conversations that are outside of just as the core service that we provide through your home or over the air, whatever service you take from us, even if you get into TV and sport, it starts to showcase that we're here not just for those purchase decisions, but actually here to be more of an educator and advisor, a trusted brand that can really help you fix the problems that you may have. Technology is complicated, right, so if we can help simplify it, that's all part of being a more personal brand, that's customer centric, that's going beyond the realms of what a telecommunications provider is historically been known for.

Sorcha: And also the mobile market and those kind of provider markets. It's a very mature one in the UK, you know everyone's already got a phone or they've got a tablet or they've got Wi-Fi. So how are you helping consumers to migrate to EE when they're probably happy enough with their current provider? How do you do that?

Duncan: It's all about doing more. It's all about showcasing that there's more opportunities and capability, especially under one brand. If you think about the BT brand, over the years you've had a broadband. We've added to that TV Over the years. Bt TV came to the fore, which we've just rebranded at the end of last year to EETV, and obviously we launched BT Sport, which has obviously now become TNT Sports as part of the joint venture. We've always looked to diversify, to give people different reasons to take some of our core propositions and I think this is just an evolution of that. But actually, at a really more fundamental level, that says the network is where we've obviously had huge amounts of credibility over the years. The devices that people plug onto those networks and have experiences on, whether it be TV, your smartphone, as you say, smart home devices you know your connectivity that joins things up within your home environment, the ability to work on the go. When you start to think about all the devices that are encapsulated, it goes beyond just telco communications and I think that we want to showcase a broader range of propositions which are not just telecommunications related tech subscriptions, services that are outside of our core realm and really offer a broader suite of products for exactly that reason to showcase that EET does do more and as being part of this network and moving your provider, if you choose to, we will give you more. But equally, if you just choose to spot buy things, if you just want to pick up that piece of technology because you've been inspired by a friend or an advert or you want to have that experience, then we're another option in the mix and actually we're an option that, once you're with us, for even buying on the open market, you can still then come to us for services and get additional benefits. I think it's very important that we showcase there is a real, genuine 360 view of how we're looking at customers and showing up where they want to interact with us in the products and services that make sense.

Sorcha: Yeah, for sure, and physical retail is still an important part of the business as well. So, odin, could you tell me a little bit about how is the e-commerce team supporting store performance? How are you doing that?

Duncan: It's a really good question and one if you'd have asked me 12 months ago, I'd have said we’re but not in all honesty, we were very, very separate, and you're right. I mean, EE's got a tremendous footprint across the UK of retail stores designed to give kind of a personalized local service within their regions. They understand their people, they understand their geography, they understand the high street that they exist in. It's an incredibly important part of the business and before we rebranded we were online and we were selling to the open market and the stores were doing their thing in terms of that localized personal service across subscriptions. What we've been able to do in the last really only four or five months, just before Christmas, really in the second half of the year, with the rebrand is launched something internally called Retail Plus, which we found examples of where customers go to retail stores and obviously in that store we want them to transact on the things that our guides, who are our advisors in store, can sell to them. So that is to your point renew their subscription, renew their mobile service, add a broadband line, take a TV package, add sport and then, if there existing EE customers add to plan, take a set of AirPods, for example, and be able to spread the cost. But obviously you're on the high street, people are walking in there all the time. Are you with EE? Okay we're not able to add to plan then because you're not with us and you don't currently can't move your mobile provider at the time, so we can't service that need. We're not able to sell that item, necessarily direct or it's extended catalogue and we don't offer it within the store. And what Retail Plus has allowed us to do is let guides have phenomenal conversations with customers on the high street about whatever the customer wants to talk about. If they can service that customer right there and then they deal with the customer right there, and then that's the right thing to do if they can’t Retail Plus has enabled us to create an omnichannel bridge between the guide having the experience with the customer, the customer receiving a piece of information directly off the guide through the medium of a QR code or an email that essentially drives them straight onto EE Store to complete that transaction. And what we're doing there is, instead of turning that customer away, having a great conversation but then not being able to give them an experience where we can show that through to conversion, that person might go on the high street, go and speak to another organization who can give them help and then potentially convert. That's not the right experience, and what Retail Plus has allowed us to do is to embed fantastic conversation for our guides, lead them onto a digital journey through EE Store and get those customers to transact. And we've seen some phenomenal success in just a few months across there, especially in that peak trading period in November, December and even now at the start of January 2024, we're in a position where customers are really engaging, our guides are having fantastic conversations and it's leading to conversions on a digital footprint, which is again going back to that point. We're showing up where customers want us to. They want to interact on the high street, but they're comfortable transacting online. Let's make sure we leverage that opportunity. It's the best thing for the customer.

Sorcha: And how do you make sure that your guides and your ecom teams are talking together and have that really close relationship, because that can be quite a difficult thing to do, just in terms of where people you know if you've got all this huge store footprint across the country, how do you make sure that the feedback from the guides, from the customers, is going straight into e-commerce and you can use it effectively and quickly?

Duncan: It's really tricky right, and that's exactly why we launched this as very much a proof of concept kind of, with a project team kind of which creates a link between my e-story commerce team and the people we've got there who are dealing with kind of the experience when the customer lands are they converting, what are they browsing, what are they ultimately purchasing, right the way through the project team into the retail team, who are out there every week, sat in the retail stores, listening to the retail advisor feedback, the guide feedback and taking actions on it. So, obviously, as we scaled it up, we went from a three-store trial to a 10-store trial, to a region trial in the Northwest, to rolling it out in November across our entire estate and it was very much a learning. So, if we can figure what happens at a very small, localised level, blow it up to a region level. Take some of those learnings. We essentially were going through a process, constantly iterating, figuring out what customers were saying to the guides, where the guides were reaching conversation challenges with customers and then utilising the team in the e-commerce side to be able to say, okay, how do we tweak that email? How do we make that landing page make a little bit more sense? How do we make sure that the products in which the guides are usually speaking about are there first, so we're not having to create complexity? So when we rolled it out across the team, we'd ironed out a lot of those issues not all of those issues and what's been really important since, especially in December, was keeping that really close relationship as a project team, because we're still really improved for concept phase until we've embedded it into the broader estate, which you know we've still lots of work to do in that space. What we're trying to prove is that we don't want customers to come into our retail estate and not be able to leave with something that he has been able to provide either in store or online. And I think that constant communication, that link between those teams not all of the teams and all of the teams trying to talk all at once, it's impossible, but we're creating a really good kind of project funnel that enables all of those kind of ideas and the thoughts, as you mentioned before, to come in and then to obviously feed out into the commerce teams that can go and make those changes and optimise that experience.

Sorcha: Yeah, as you've been talking, it's really clear that you've got a really really clear view of what the priorities are, you know that kind of corporate strategy like you're saying. You're really kind of implementing it and I think that's really really important, especially for someone in your position. Correct me, you know I'd have to hear your thoughts because you've got so much customer data. You've got all this information coming in from guides and you know it's coming in different forms and all these kinds of things. It must be really difficult to actually iron out what exactly are maybe two or three really really important things from all of that information that you're getting. But it seems like you've really managed to do that. I wonder how do you kind of set out those goals and how do you break it down into? You know these are the specific actions that we're going to do and what can you tell me? Talk me through that.

Duncan: Yeah, it's really hard because there's so much information and because there's a lot of moving parts, you can imagine an organization of our scale which has got so many channel touch points, of which EE store is only a small part of the overall picture, but we're an important part of the picture in the context of it starting to showcase to customers that EE works across more categories and is available to everybody. The EEID, which I should touch on shortly, is a really important pillar in that, because that starts to give us a view of the customers that we have across the group, all of the various different services, products that they take from us and buy from us. We can make better decisions around how to serve the existing customers and to your point earlier about how we attract people to the most personal, customer-focused brand in the UK, it's by showing up in the right places with a personalised and tailored experience that in showcases you have this, so why would you want this? I think that's a really important factor. In terms of the teams and managing the goals and objectives within it. I think it's about being really clear with whatever we do, we try and draw it back to a point which says is this delivering on that overarching objective, which is winning the household, so being able to sell more things to more customers that we already have. Is it helping us show up on more devices in the UK? Is it helping our brand be featured alongside the home, work, learn, game concept? Is very much there saying does it fall under one of those pillars? Are we helping and advising customers at every step? Are we creating an experience that ties back to that? I think, if we can always say it does, even if it might be building blocks to build up to the bigger picture, that's the way in which I've tried to certainly my team, people I manage and the remit that I have directly but equally then showcase how that builds into the future. So, as new systems come online, as new capability comes to the fore, how does what we've learned and established in this arena play a really big part in the core business and especially the identity over the course of the next few years? Because that's a really important factor in making sure that the decisions that we make drive real benefit for the consumers and customers that come into buy from EE.

Sorcha: Yeah, brilliant. And what is EEID?

Duncan: So EEID is something that we launched last year. We've always had identities within BT Group, so you have your BT Mobile ID. You might sign in lots of different ways, whether it be through EE Store, wi-fi, etc. There's lots of different ways in which to talk to us, and what we want to do with EEID is do two things. One, create a profile for a customer that, if you're with us, enables you to have a full view of all the products and services that you take from us across the piece, because that's a really single, simple way of being able to access and manage all of that. And within that app, within the unbelievably EE app that the team are building, what you've got there is you've got not just how to manage your mobile bill, but, if you're then with us for EE Broadband, you can manage your broadband, manage your Wi-Fi controls. Historically, we had lots of different apps to do lots of different things. Having all of this in a centralized location under a single identity gives a customer more flexibility and gives us, an organization, more ability to be able to show up again when you need us, and that's about being personal, isn't it? It's like if you need help, we need to make sure we can serve that within the interface based on what we know about you as a user. But it's also about changing that mindset. Ee Identity is also about moving away from being a telco which is a little bit closed off, as in you have to come towards new, creating accounts. Take a subscription, anyone can sign up for an EE ID and I'd encourage, if you haven't go, sign up for one because, even if you're not with us as a customer, as soon as you do that, you're immediately opening the door to offers and services that non-EE customers can get, and that's only going to grow. And the reasons to have the app and to pop it on your home screen and to click on it more regularly and to engage on it is going to go beyond just checking how much data have I got left? Is my broadband okay? Do I want to set up a guess Wi-Fi network? It's genuinely going to be broader for our existing customers but also have many, many reasons why a customer who isn't currently buying from us would want an identity. It's going to broaden out over time. There's a massive, exciting roadmap that the identity team are working on that's going to bring that to life for customers, but it's at the heart of everything we're looking to do about being customer focused and more personal.

Sorcha: Yeah, I mean it sounds fantastic. It's really kind of creating that stickiness with the brand. I actually really loved your phrase they're winning the household. I really, really, really like that one. Is that something that's kind of new to the brand, or has that been part of the methodology for a while?

Duncan: I think underlying as part of that I mean BT and EE coming together, if you think about it, you know we always had a fixed line broadband going into the home and that's obviously all about moving to FTP as all part of the overall strategy. And I think within the household you've got one broadband line going in, but you've often got multiple mobile devices in people's homes, obviously depending on the size of the family, and I think that if you can harness that, you can create a better customer experience for the whole household. If you think about it, within every home you've probably got multiple phones, multiple TVs, devices that are managing sound or smart infrastructure. You know, depending on your household, there are so many different devices and I think being able to showcase the EE is there to support across the whole piece when it's technology related, but then also to simplify it, to make it easy to understand, to guide you through the process. I think that's what winning the household means. It means showing up in the ways that really help you get the best experience. When I first took over what was BT Shop at the time, which years ago, was an acquisition that BT made of a local Northwest company, dabscom and when I came in, we started to move away from this concept of feeds and speeds to move towards features and benefits. We used to be an organization that was all about, you know, it's the latest, it's the greatest early adopter type mentality and I think where we've migrated to through BT Shop and our work through smart home and some of our scenarios, like talking to customers about problems they face and technology that solves that problem. I left my plug on how do I turn it off remotely? I want to check if I get a delivery and I miss it with smart security and those types of devices. Talking to customers about problems they face and solving them with technology or services is what people care about, because people always tell us it's difficult, I don't understand it, it's too complicated. It's our job to cut through that and it's our job, at the end of that, to show up with the products and services that are going to make our lives easier.

Sorcha: I think we're sick of talking about how time-poor customers are. That really is the reality. So, coming back to the four pillars that you mentioned home, work, learn, game. Gaming is one that's kind of come up a couple of times. What are your ambitions with gaming? Where do you see it kind of going and why is it one of the main pillars?

Duncan: Well, for a couple of reasons. One, it's one of the biggest industries in the UK. When you look at what customers spend on and gaming does really fit across all of our kind of core pillars because people have whether it's PC, whether it's console, whether it's been mobile across all the gaming pillars, even cloud gaming these days, like you can't do it without a really robust internet connection, great Wi-Fi capability and if you're going to game on the go you need the best mobile provider. So from an infrastructure perspective it makes total sense. And then from our partnerships, I mean we've got unbelievable partnerships with Microsoft, PlayStation, Nintendo. When you look across, Meta, you look across those brands. They are brands that are really pushing at the forefront of technology and engagement that customers have with those products is really important. I think that's an important factor in us showing up as being this brand that enables you to showcase, we've got the best connectivity and we've got the best partnerships to facilitate those devices into the home. [21.40] and I think that gaming just has so many just tie-ins, natural tie-ins as well within our core brand, and it's one that really beforehand we didn't play in. I think when we looked at it, we just said why? Why as a brand have we not tried to show up in that space? And I think one centralized brand with the strength of EE, it makes total sense. Our partners get it and obviously, as we can see in our market share data, the customers get it as well. And I think that it's important to us because it's important to our customers and I think, again, making sure that we're a trusted brand that can show up in the right places and give people confidence that. We've got, we've got work to do. This is constantly evolving. This is in the last really 18 months. We've come to the fore on this and it's so much more coming next year. But I think that it's an important category because it matters to our customers and there's just such a breadth of people who need help, support, and product on the back of it.

Sorcha: Yeah, for sure. Can you talk to me a little bit more broadly about e-commerce? I'd love to get your thoughts from you. Where do you see the next couple of big developments in e-commerce coming? Where's the smart money? Where's?

Duncan: The smart money yeah. I mean, I look at this in a couple of different ways. Right, because us as a brand have got some of the fundamentals to work through over the next 12 months, like still some of the fundamentals, especially to bring it all together and, I think, even some of that with the identity and having a platform where people can interact with this all-in-one place. Simplification is a really important part of e-commerce. Like just you said it earlier, people are time poor, so how do we make it as easy as possible? That isn't about putting shiny new bells and whistles on things and new technology and things. AI for us is a massive one, if you can imagine from a personalization perspective, so there's huge amounts of our incredible based value of personalization teams are doing. We've been a lot of press about Amy, who's kind of our AI bot, who's there to kind of communicate with customers, solve problems. Obviously, that's going to evolve over time. They're really important things to simplify the journey of our existing base, and I think that's for us this year, where we've got a lot of work to do, but we're on a good journey for it, and I think that simplification and that creating less friction in the journey is things we're going to be able to do without necessarily the new shiny emerging technologies. That said, they're absolutely, you know we've seen it. Two and a half years ago, probably across the Far East, social commerce start to boom. Last year in the States start to boom. There's no doubt that is going to play a really important factor, probably the back end of 24, definitely 2025, in terms of e-commerce. Because, again, how do you create and the identity plays into this as well in terms of being able to show up for customers in the right places and make it seamless for them. Customers are browsing in their own ways, in different devices, through different platforms, and if we want to show up as a product reseller or as a services reseller, again it's about making sure those ads that we put out there and that engagement that we try and have with customers actually there's a really simple funnel for them to just try, in terms of being open to everybody. That's where the identity gives us the opportunity to do that. You're browsing a social platform, and you see something that you're inspired by and we're able to service it. How do we get you through that funnel? How do we get you straight to that product and be able to check out that experience. So I think that that is an important factor for us going into 2025. But yeah, I think for me, the development for all of us, especially in the retail space, is just to try and create that more unified basket experience where you can take more products and services at once and have options to add, subtract, move things around and have a lot more flexibility with the packages that you take. I think that's a really important part for me in terms of the ecommerce strategy for the next couple of years.

Sorcha: Right and, bearing all that in mind, when you look at hiring for your team, what kind of skills are you looking for?

Duncan: Honestly, people with passion. I love people who come in into the organization. I've had some phenomenal people over the last couple of years, especially in our area, who just come in and they're full of ideas but they're able to channel them in a way that just builds excitement. I noticed that through the rebranding project that we had. When you've got people who understand the vision, all right, look, it's a zigzag path to get there, but I look for people who have got a clear passion, not necessarily in technology, but just to come across as they've got a real passion for moving things forward. Standing still is absolutely not an option and look, we'll take three sets forward and sometimes five sets back and don't let that, you know, I want people with real resilience who can take that knock and actually be ready to go again, because that is a culture that drives moving forward. That is a culture that drives success in my view, it’s how we've driven success in the BT shop business before and now into E-store and obviously the future state that we're moving towards. People who have got that kind of resilience and passion are the people who can cut through the challenges that any big organization faces with that kind of positivity that just GSD and I'll say ‘get stuff done’ in this context. But you get what I mean. I think it's a really important factor and I think where it's valued and where it's seen, I think you see some of the best results. I personally, again, that's kind of the way I look to lead and it's a type of people I want to have around.

Sorcha: Fantastic, fantastic, yeah, now I'm going to change tack slightly, Duncan, can you tell me what's dub CNN?

Duncan: What is dub CNN. So that is a college project that kind of took over my life for quite a while. So yeah, for anyone who's listening, who doesn't know what dub CNN is. So when I was in college, I was on a computer science A-Level and let's just say the course was not going to plan. Maybe the education of said program was not what I envisaged and I just I span up a website in an area that I've got a real hobby for, so music, and specifically in this case, hip hop music which had a passion for, I was part of a community online at the time, in the very early 2000s a forum you know, for those of you who still remember what forums are, long before the days of iTunes, YouTube and certainly any social media, a community really that we're talking about, a passion they have.

I realized that while people were there talking about it, there wasn't really a front door unless you wanted to join the forum and talk about it with other people. There was no magazine, there was no front door, the magazines were physical, and so I set upon I say I set upon the idea. It sounds really visionary, doesn't it? But at the time there weren't a lot of them and, yeah, I just decided well, we've got all this community, we're talking about all this stuff, we're making the news within the forum. Let's just elevate it, let's put it on a front page over the course of 20 years really, because it's still there now, albeit not with much time from me because I don't have a lot with a busy job and a young family. It was a passion project that spun out of a community of people. I wanted to build it into something that was more of an online magazine and, yeah, in the first five years we became pretty significant, especially in the West Coast scenes at LA, San Francisco, promoting artists, working with labels, launching careers. I mean, you know, if I look at some of the artists, we worked with in the early days people now so Kendrick Lamar before anyone knew who Kendrick Lamar was. You know it was an artist called KDOT who we were working with, just supporting artists that didn't have a voice, supporting musicians, producers, labels that just didn't have a voice and giving them a voice. And yeah, so a little passion project on the back of a failing A level, which I did eventually pass, became a business that I was fully committed to for a number of years and very proud of as well, something I've got a lot of passion for.

Sorcha: Yeah, you should be. I mean, that's amazing. To do that as a teenager is phenomenal, and it sounds like there's a couple of things that you're doing that have continued in through that your approach, I suppose to what you're doing here. You know, talking about opening the door and creating communities, all that is kind of echoes what you're talking about earlier today.

Duncan:  Yeah, I'd like to think it has. It plays a part. I mean, one of the reasons I ended up in this obviously very different job to what I do now, but I ended up in the BT organization through multiple transitions was, I went to the company as it was at the time and I just said, look, I've got a passion for online. I love anything that transacts digitally, you know, whether that be reading or interviews, or I loved inspiring people to come and want to look at something, engage with something, and ultimately, you know, yes, now that leads to conversions, and you know the e-commerce funnel as it would be. But fundamentally at the heart of it, yeah, it's about trying to create an experience that people can engage with and interact with and be excited by, and fulfil something, a need that they've got. You know back then it was you know how do I find out how the next Ice Cube album might be coming out and what music that's going to involve right the way through now you know how do I fix the Wi-Fi in my home. They feel very different, but actually you're still fulfilling a customer need at the end of the day so there's absolute synergies and similarities and I hope there's a little bit of what started as a kernel of an idea there now that still exists on my career today because hopefully it showcases it doesn't matter, you know, career-wise as well. I don't think it matters where you start, I don't think it matters what background you've got. You asked me the question before about what do I look for in people Passion, moving things forward, wanting to do the next thing, wanting to evolve things, however challenging that may be. That's kind of how I've looked at my career and I hope that as more people come, hopefully that's part of the stuff that I can embed within people. But yeah, there's no doubt there's always a little bit of, even in my office at home where I work, there's little remnants of DUBS CNN end down the years which you can hear every now and again, just give me a little boost to say you know what we can do that because we did that.

Sorcha: Oh, I love it. Brilliant Duncan, thank you so much. I really really enjoyed talking to you.

Duncan: It's been an absolute pleasure. Thanks so much.

Sorcha: Thank you. That was Duncan Weatherford from EE. This is a more to podcast. We help over 100 direct to consumer and retail brands just like you to harness the customer data and work smarter and more profitably. Join our Teach-In masterclass to see how you can bring your marketing, finance, and product teams together to deliver a reliable, scalable profit with confidence and without the jargon. You can learn more at more2.com or at the link in the description of this episode.


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