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Bossing It: Rich Simpson Talks Leadership Lessons at HIJACK


HIJACK's managing director on starting out as a teacher, being reflective about the role and always reviewing your processes

Bossing It: Rich Simpson Talks Leadership Lessons at HIJACK

Rich Simpson started working with Alex Seery back in 2014. Together they created HIJACK in 2017, and have since grown a fantastic team of DITs, colourists, dubbing mixers and more. Rich comes from an audio background having completed his Masters in Audio Engineering in 2011. Rich has personally worked on projects such as Jungle (Amazon Prime), Good Omens (Amazon Prime), The Roads Not Taken (directed by Sally Potter) and has supervised many more. He is now the managing director at HIJACK.

LBB> What was your first experience of leadership?

Rich> My path into the industry was originally through teaching. I taught at Further Education level and also had management responsibilities with the Creative Industries department.

LBB> How did you figure out what kind of leader you wanted to be – or what kind of leader you didn’t want to be?

Rich> I have had the pleasure of working with some great leaders during my career (and some very bad ones). All of these relationships have fed into my leadership style, but above all else the greatest role models in my life have always led by example. I never ask anything of anyone that I wouldn’t be prepared to do myself. It is important that you show respect to everyone and encourage them to use their own unique talents in their role.

LBB> What experience or moment gave you your biggest lesson in leadership?

Rich> I remember being in a staff meeting where one particular team member felt that they didn’t have time to complete everything that was being asked of them that week.

Without a moment’s hesitation the boss offered to take some of that workload from her. He never questioned her judgement for a second as he had complete belief in his team. We all knew he was definitely extremely busy himself, but his priority was to make sure the team had the support they needed.

LBB> Did you know you always wanted to take on a leadership role? If so how did you work towards it and if not, when did you start realising that you had it in you?

Rich> My role at HIJACK has evolved over the years. We were initially a team of two people, handling all aspects of the business as well as the technical side of things. As things have progressed and the company has grown we have each found a place where our strengths lie. I like being well organised, planning ahead, and working with people so I naturally fell into this role within the company.

LBB> What are the aspects of leadership that you find most personally challenging? And how do you work through them?

Rich> As well as being the managing director of HIJACK, I am also a dubbing mixer. I love both aspects of my role here at HIJACK, but as the company has grown it has become increasingly difficult to do both. Being locked in the audio suite all day doesn’t make it easy to have your finger on the pulse of what is happening in the business. Luckily we have a fantastic audio team at HIJACK, and by focusing my efforts on supporting them instead I can help the company grow.

LBB> Have you ever felt like you've failed whilst in charge? How did you address the issue and what did you learn from it?

Rich> I am a big believer in being reflective about the role I have played in any situation. If something has not gone as planned, my first question is always “what could I have done differently to support the project / the team better?”. It’s essential to to learn from mistakes and to review your processes to prevent them being repeated. No one is looking to make a mistake, and everyone wants to deliver their best work. Issues can usually be avoided by making sure there are open and clear lines of communication between everyone involved, and that everyone knows what they should expect from each other.

LBB> In terms of leadership and openness, what’s your approach there? Do you think it’s important to be transparent as possible in the service of being authentic? Or is there a value in being careful and considered?

Rich> At HIJACK we very much have a culture of being open and honest with each other. It is, of course, not always a good idea to share your every thought or concern. However, the HIJACK crew are all on this journey together and we try to share as much information as we can with the team. Without this we might miss out on some invaluable contributions.

LBB> How important is your company culture to the success of your business?

Rich> We are really proud of the team we have here at HIJACK. We have such a friendly, approachable and knowledgeable team, every one of whom is so great to work with.

Many of the team have been with us for years and we haven’t had anyone leave us yet! I think this is in no small way because we have a strong company culture, a shared sense of humour, and we all know where we are heading and what we can achieve together.

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Hijack, Wed, 08 Feb 2023 14:40:57 GMT