Get to know a typical work day of our Head of Digital Landscape: Adrian Harper. Learn about his “Getting Things Done” approach, why he still uses pen and paper, and how he optimizes his media consumption through AI.
Take us through a day in your work life. What are some of the work habits you’ve developed over the years that help you maintain productivity?
With responsibilities covering both internal and customer platforms, no two days are the same. I switch rapidly between overseeing the traditional areas of IT (software development, onsite and cloud infrastructure, security, data growth, and operational services), keeping major project initiatives on track, dealing with crisis incidents, and driving strategic discussions on how we use and develop our technology platforms.
My main productivity habit is the GTD methodology (Getting Things Done). I’ve trusted and relied heavily on this system since I first found David Allen’s book around 2004. Rather than take notes on a laptop, I use paper and pen in meetings, but any actions that I need to deal with are rapidly input into my GTD system when back at my desk.
When working at the office, I have a two-hour-plus commute time in the car; I find this time helpful to sort out my thoughts on what is coming up or what has happened during the day. This process typically generates a lot of ideas and actions that I dictate into my GTD system via my phone.
What motivated you to apply for a position at Karger?
I was approached to join the Karger team at a time when I had worked for over twenty years in the finance sector. The role at Karger offered me a real challenge combined with a very different industry to learn.
What has been your experience during the remote working over the last two years?
I’m fortunate to have space for a dedicated office at home, so I fully understand that I’ve been in a privileged position compared to many others who have struggled at kitchen tables. Although some of our staff switched between the office and home working over the last two years, I was one of a small number permanently at home from around February 2020. I estimate that I visited the office for only two or three days in that period.
Having worked remotely at least one day per week before the pandemic, moving entirely to remote work was not difficult. My wife, kids, and pets certainly appreciated that I was at home more and was much more flexible with my time, e.g. not leaving the house at 6 am to beat the commute traffic.
The thing I missed most during the pandemic was personal face-to-face discussions with my team members and the short exchanges at the coffee machine or in the hallway. Brainstorming and incident/crisis management are also very challenging when the team is remote.
What do you enjoy the most about your time at Karger?
I love the variability and the constant challenge of my role that stems from Karger, along with the scientific publishing industry, undergoing a significant period of change. This generates many new projects, changing processes, and new developments. I also enjoy the diversity of opinions and backgrounds of both my teams and colleagues. For a recent interview, I worked out that I had nine or ten different nationalities and an age range from sixteen to sixty-four within my teams.
What would you like someone who’s interested in applying to Karger to know?
While the expectation of Karger employees is high, the company also take the health and wellbeing of our people very seriously. The way the company reacted in an employee-first manner during the pandemic was exemplary, overcoming serious workflow, technical, and process issues to ensure that the Karger was ahead of the curve in reacting to guidance and regulations from the Swiss and overseas governments.
Seeing the success of allowing people more flexibility and the ability to work from anywhere accelerated Karger’s plans for full hybrid working and broke the traditions of always being in the office and block-time working that many Swiss companies still maintain.
What kind of media are you consuming every day?
I tend to consume quite a lot of media each day, so I try to optimise my consumption as much as possible. Through a reading system with a built-in AI, I collect news articles and alerts from hundreds of sources and then filter these to highlight trends and the specific topics I’m interested in following. I also read many books each year across lots of genres. I split my reading between an e-reader and audiobooks that let me utilise some of my commute time or time spent walking the dog etc.