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Adam Williams Spotify MD and his inspiring career

  1. What do you love most about your career?

The people, both those I work directly with and our clients and partners.  I have a sales background and I enjoy meeting people and find it exciting.  Most people I work with are fun, and even when things are tough, we laugh first and then sort it out.

I am very lucky to work in the music industry – it’s fast paced, and you get to experience some cool things, like live gigs in our reception and great parties.

  1. How do you feel on Monday mornings? 

I genuinely enjoy coming to work, although first thing I can be a little groggy as I am not a morning person.  We are changing the music industry, including people’s perceptions of it and this means there are always new challenges.  We are often doing things that no one else has done before, such as the partnership with Vodafone, where Vodafone customers can get Spotify bundled for free with their phone.

  1. What makes you get out of bed each day?

I’m a solution based individual, so solving challenges drives me.  Creating solutions comes from mindset, and even when it’s not my fault, I will try to fix it.  This keeps things interesting, as does constantly learning new things.

  1. How much planning has gone into your career?

I didn’t specifically plan to be where I am or to start my career in media sales.  When I was 16 I did work experience at a creative agency.  This was very exciting at the time – wearing a suit and working in Canary Wharf, although it wasn’t what I really wanted to do!  After university I started working with my brother’s university friend in media sales.  It happened very quickly – I was requested to interview the day after sending my CV to them, offered a role the day after and started two days later.  I had to sleep on a sofa for a number of weeks before finding my own place.

I have planned to move into more senior roles, which I have done.  When I joined Spotify it was with the understanding that once I had proved myself, I would move up the ladder.

  1. How did you get to where you are? 

By sticking to my values, which includes doing what I say I will do, which builds trust.  This is something that I strongly encourage my team to do too.  Honesty and integrity are also important values, as is having fun.  You can still have fun in stressful situations.  In fact, I find it helpful as it can diffuse things.

To get promoted I needed to ensure that my boss was able to trust me to perform and deliver in a new role.  I did this by building trust and performing before the promotion opportunities arose.

  1. What’s has helped you get there? 

Hard work, performing and doing more than is expected.  Going with the flow and being flexible has also been vital.  The environment is constantly changing, which I expect and embrace, although many people can struggle with change.  When I joined Spotify there were 60 people and now there are 1,500.  A lot has changed in this time – processes and structures are now important, although we need to maintain our innovative side.

  1. What’s been your biggest career achievement?

Being part of the Spotify team – from joining it as a start up and being part of its growth into the global company it is now.  I joined an office of four people and was doing everything from PR and sales to facilities.  I am now responsible for our UK and Benelux operations and 90 people.

It is a great thing to be part of – we help artists grow their audiences, combat piracy and we’re playing a part in changing the music industry.

  1. What’s been your biggest career challenge?

Getting made redundant after seven and a half, nearly eight years in one company.  It was in the middle of a recession and Chrysalis Radio had just been bought by Global Radio, which then merged with GCap.  I was managing around 20 people and my role was no longer needed.

I did around 50 interviews and I was starting to interview for roles that I shouldn’t have gone for.  It was very tough – there were few jobs and I had not worked for three to four months.  For anyone in a similar situation, you need to remember that you have the skills you need and that your break will come!

  1. What advice would you give someone looking to change career?

Go for something that you are passionate about as you’ll enjoy it more and perform better.  If you find something interesting and exciting, you’ll read up on things, work hard and push yourself.  It’s also important not to get stuck in a rut, and to recognise when you may be nearing a rut.

I would advise people to think through a new career, but to not be too concerned with how a change looks on their CV.  Many employers and managers, including myself, see varied experience as an advantage.

I had a friend who wanted to become a teacher who was very focused on not wanting to do what they were doing.  They thought that becoming a teacher would change their life, although they didn’t research the change.  Unfortunately, they quickly left teaching as they didn’t enjoy it.

However, another friend also wanted to become a teacher.  They really researched it and spent time talking to teachers to understand the good and the bad aspects.  They still love teaching several years later.

  1. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

I am a great believer in building strong relationships as virtually every industry is people based.  It is invaluable for your career to develop these deep relationships, and this is best done face to face, by meeting people.  For me, social media is best used to start relationships, and isn’t great at building them.

Twitter: @SpotifyUK