Andrew Latham Interview
What does your role involve?
My principle objectives are to lead the company to exceed the expectations of all our stakeholders: our customers, our team, our advertising partners and our shareholders by delivering a quality customer centric experience, personal growth and fulfilment for the team leading to sustainable long-term growth and earnings.
What is it that the company does?
icelolly.com is a leading holiday comparison site which enables customers to search and compare our huge database to find their perfect great value holiday. We use our knowledge and expertise to help customers every step of the way by suggesting holidays that they may not have thought of, at great value prices.
With our tagline ‘Compare, Call, Save’, we handle 200 million online searches every year, inspiring holidaymakers with an exceptional range of 130 million deals from sun to city, and from ski to cruise.
The site is independent and focused only on helping customers find the best possible deal from our range of leading travel partners. We aim to make the holiday search happen with fun and personality, whilst always ensuring that every customer interaction and experience of our site is the best it can possibly be. Safety and security of people’s holiday is key and all packages advertised on the site are fully protected by ATOL.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
My first job was aged 12, washing dishes in my family’s TV and film location catering business, Lewis & Clarke, and working in our family grocery and delicatessen businesses. It was a great learning curve and taught me the value of hard work and how to work with others, as well as being great fun – I was often found up to my elbows in hot water on the set of BBC shows such as Grange Hill and the like.
Later I studied hotel and catering management at Brighton University, as it now is, before working in my last summer holiday for the The Royal Household at Balmoral. My first career job was to join the graduate training scheme with Grand Metropolitan. I then moved to a small startup company running pubs, hotels and restaurants and subsequently worked in senior management and as a director for a variety of large-scale hospitality businesses. I completed a Masters Degree in Hospitality at Oxford Brooks University.
I have been Chief Executive of two public companies and have done a variety of Non-Executive Directorships and consultancy roles for some Not-for-Profit organisations as well as commercial enterprises. I was asked to come and run icelolly.com as Interim Chief Executive for a few months…and three years later I’m still here – I am now permanent by the way!
What do you believe makes a great leader?
A great leader must develop and set the vision and strategy of an organisation, with the support and input of others, and then work with the team and assets that they have to deliver it. But above all always displaying the highest levels of honesty and integrity. Success comes from the team you recruit, develop and work with, buying into the plan and owning it, and following your example, them being prepared to be totally committed and work hard to get the job done. It is not all about you!
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
When I came to icelolly.com, I was tasked with resetting the business plan to get it moving back in the right direction, and at the same time ensuring that the team here totally bought into it. That was an enormous challenge, but I believe we have now future-proofed the organisation and are in a great place.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I am very fortunate in that I don’t feel stressed too often – but I find swimming and enjoying the countryside on walks with my wife Zena and Jess, our black Labrador very relaxing. I have also been a volunteer for St. John Ambulance for over four decades, and am a Community First Responder for the NHS Ambulance Service responding to 999 calls in support of their paramedics which brings great personal satisfaction; it is a huge privileged to serve others in their hour of need.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was very little I wanted to be a chef or a doctor. However, after my A-Level results meant that being a doctor was not going to happen, I ended up working in hospitality – so this did come true in a way.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about then?
People who don’t tell the truth; integrity above all things. I am also irritated by negativity; and by people who will always find a reason why they can’t do something. You can almost always find your way around a problem. My school motto was “Omnia Vinces Perseverando” – roughly translated as ‘Perseverance conquers all’ – a good maxim for life I think!
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I’d like to see the people in our team having grown in their careers, and the business will have developed to more than double in size and us having delivered a great customer experience and exceptional shareholder returns.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Remember your people because without them you’re nothing. Don’t let yourself become self-important as you’re only as good as the team you have. People want to be led and want to do their best generally, so if you can rise to the challenge in an honest and genuine way, you’re on to a winner.