In the run-up to our client-focused Rocket conference, we have been talking to our digital-specialist speakers to find out who they are and what they think. 

Who are you?

Gabriel Smy.

What do you do?

I run the communications for software startup Sparkol. My background is in web content strategy. And training and copywriting before that. I also write fiction.

Why do you do what you do?

I’ve always cared about communicating clearly - helping people to get their message across. I still think it makes the world a better place.

What is your biggest achievement?

I feel blessed to have got to this current situation at my age, with an exciting job, family life in a great house in the country and time to write my own books. At least two of those things I thought would come later.

When did you wish you’d done better?

Looking back I can’t believe how much time and energy I had at my disposal before I had kids. I wish I’d grabbed more opportunities professionally then. It took me quite a long time to work out what I wanted to commit to.

What is the most important skill to have working in digital today?

If you can write or code well you’ll never be out of a job, but the most important skill is seeing the bigger picture and appreciating how lots of disciplines tie together. In startups, learning several roles, and understanding even more, puts you in a useful position. Digital creates new territory; it’s there for the taking.

What is your prediction for our digital future?

I guess the unpredictability of digital is what makes it so exciting. Who would have thought that at this point we’d be dominated by a search engine, a student networking platform and a blogging platform restricted to about 25 words? So I don’t know – but I’m hoping for something more stimulating than a fridge that orders more cheddar when I run out. I’d love more of the energy currently going into apps that solve trivial first-world problems to be diverted into solving more desperate needs around the globe.

Who is a key inspiration to you?

My friend Jim, a leadership coach, has inspired me to see the world very differently and to make commitments, mostly through his kindness. Then there are countless people whom I don’t know personally: Alan Rusbridger, Donna Tartt, Seth Godin, JK Rowling, Thom Yorke, to name a few.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’ve been creating a kitchen garden behind the house which is something of a first and rather enjoyable. I love being outside, walking in the Exmoor hills or running along the lanes. My four sons and a new puppy take up a lot of time as you’d expect but I manage to squeeze in a bit of cooking and blog editing as well.

Tell us a joke. (keep it clean!)

What’s brown and sticky? A stick.

Tell us about a website that we HAVE to check out. (not your own)

When GOV.UK won the Design of the Year award in 2013 it left a lot of people scratching their heads. But web professionals knew exactly why – it epitomised the need for websites to be mercilessly fast and useful, whilst maintaining an elegance that belies its subject matter and complexity. The more you hear about what it replaced and how – the more of an achievement it becomes.

You can hear Gabriel talk about content strategy at Rocket 15 on Thursday 4 June at Austin Court, Birmingham.

Register for your free ticket here.

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Ryan Bromley

About the Author

Ryan is a digital marketing executive at Zengenti.

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