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IMPROVEMENT IS A CONSTANT PROCESS: BEHIND THE SCENES OF A STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS MANAGER

Author: Gabriella Anesio


Webamp interviewed Morten Graversen, Strategy and Operations Manager at Christopher Cloos, about the technicalities of what it actually means to run operations on a daily basis, the challenges that come with this, and the methods of optimising processes throughout

Christopher Cloos, founded in 2017, is an eyewear company that is Danish by blood, but with a French twist - the idea for the company being born in the South of France. Now, based in Copenhagen, Christopher Cloos ships its eyewear all over the world, with over half a thousand retailers in key locations across the globe. The company prides itself on combining Danish minimalism with the infamous French flair for style and elegance to create unique and beautiful eyewear.

Breaking down the logistics of logistics 

Morten Greversen is a young, yet ambitious, person, who is now in charge of running the logistics at Christopher Cloos. As Strategy and Operations manager, his tasks and responsibilities are almost endless, but he attempted to summarise the duties he face on the daily:

“E-commerce is 90 % logistics, so I ensure all orders worldwide reach the customers, and I am in daily contact with our warehouse staff, FedEx, UPS, other international carriers etc. I negotiate contracts, deals and prices for shipments. I do the same with our own supplier. I ensure everything runs smoothly. As for marketing, I am in constant contact with our Google and Facebook agency to ensure they deliver good results. I produce content and make paid ads myself, and also come with suggestions for them to improve theirs. I try to motivate the other employees and ensure we deliver good results while having fun. I also do retail sales, where we have around 500 global retailers. Sometimes I travel to London to stay there 4-5 days to really get in touch with all our retailers there. The same in France.”

To summarise the multitude of tasks listed, Morten does all of the following: takes care of orders, deals with contracts, ensures marketing runs smoothly (using both in-house marketing and agencies), runs an entire team of people in the process, and travels to key retail locations to ensure ops are running smoothly not just in Copenhagen. 

Essentially, the role of a Strategy and Operations Manager is to be the one in charge of keeping the ball rolling, all day, every day. As abstract as the job role may sound, it is in fact one of the most practical jobs, because it’s all about dealing with the day-to-day chores.

Professional weapon of choice: your calendar 

Dealing with all logistics comes with its fair share of struggles, and there’s rarely a moment of peace where absolutely everything is running absolutely perfectly. That’s why Morten has made sure he has a way to deal with all the multi-tasking and stress of ensuring smooth operations.

“Make a daily to-do list, and live through your calendar. Your calendar is your samurai sword!”

As obvious as it may sound to create a to-do list, it’s really not something that’s easy to maintain past the first day of trying it out. It’s like when you create a New Year’s resolution - sure, maybe the first day you don’t eat that steak and stick to chickpeas and spinach, but, often, by day eight you’re slipping into old habits, aka medium-rare filet mignon, and you forget all about the promise you vowed to keep the week before. 

Same goes with creating organisation in your life; it’s easy enough to bullet point the things you have to deal with on day number one, but as the list grows, the tasks become more complex, and the pen runs out of ink, the temptation to give up on your to-do list increases. Don’t knock it ‘till you’ve (really) tried it. 

Ok so that’s how to deal with challenges, but what are the challenges themselves of a Strategy and Operations Manager? This was Morten’s two cents on the topic:

“When it comes to logistics, every day is a new challenge. There are constant new issues, dilemmas and challenges. For example, Donald Trump only wants products that are produced within the US, so we’ve had a lot of issues with our Danish-made products, as their country has increased tariffs and made it more difficult for European companies to enter the US. Also, in E-commerce, sales are always fluctuating. You never know the revenue of tomorrow. But we have to analyze the data to find patterns to ensure steady revenue day in and day out, hopefully with an increase in revenue while also looking at how to improve our profit margin.”

Mr Nice Guy vs. Mr Too Nice Guy

The stereotypical representation of the top dogs in any firm being soul-sucking dementors who trample on everyone below them has been widely discredited for a while now, as it’s been shown repeatedly that being a nice leader leads to a nice working environment, which leads to better...everything. 

However, a line has to be drawn between Mr Nice Guy and Mr Too Nice Guy. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could be too nice - but it’s up to every leader to decide where that line is. This line may be the difference between being flexible with the time your employees have to enter the office and saying you don’t care about office hours or whether employees even come into the office or not, as long as they get the work done. 

The former is an example of Mr Nice Guy, and the latter could be an example of Mr Too Nice Guy - but there’s no formula, it depends on the industry you’re in, the style of leadership you’re trying to espouse, and how good your relationship is with your employees. 

“I can sometimes be too much of a nice guy. I really trust the employees and try to empower them. I believe in everyone wanting to do their best. However, that has hit me a couple of times by employees trying to take advantage. But our CEO and I complement each other a lot, as he is much more direct.”

The whole good cop, bad cop duo clearly doesn’t only make an appearance in the police world. As Morten says, the fact that the CEO’s style of leadership is more conducive to a disciplinary nature is perfect because it balances out Morten’s own susceptibility to being too nice, from time to time.

Though the Strategy and Operations Manager admits he’s maybe sometimes a tad too cordial, he always reminds himself of one thing, and gives this as a piece of advice to others out there when put in a similar, tricky, situation:

“Trust your employees, but trust your own gut feeling even more.”

This is, clearly, by no means an attempt at belittling the voices of others; it’s simply a gentle reminder that if you adamantly believe in something that contradicts the opinions of someone else, you have to sometimes choose to believe in yourself - but also face the repercussions by making sure to hold yourself accountable. 

Making the logistics machine shiny 

Evidently, the job of a Strategy and Operations Manager is hard in itself, as is the actual leadership element. But one of the toughest aspects is actively seeking out room for improvement, whilst not going bankrupt in the process - how to reduce cost, whilst maintaining quality.

“I do this by removing middle links. Finding cheaper ways to ship, such as sea shipping compared to plane shipping. Only doing performance marketing, where you can measure the direct impact on sales rather than more abstract marketing strategies. Always focus on the bottom line profit and not just ROAS.”

And with regard to actually pushing the company further and sharpening its edges, this is is how Morten finds gaps and attempts to fix them:

“I look at former work routines and my own personal projects, podcasts, books, etc. I use many different ways to learn, such as looking at other case studies, and then trying to implement these at Christopher Cloos. Companies that do not seek inspiration from other companies will never succeed. We do not copy, but we learn from others every single day. Improvement is a constant process, especially regarding marketing, where experimenting is the best idea.”

Despite the universe of marketing being filled with a million ideas, assumptions, and suggestions, the one thing that marketeers tend to agree on is exactly that touched upon by Morten - 1) everything is always changing, and 2) experimentation is often the sharpest bow in your marketing quiver. 

Another fair remark made is that comparison is not synonymous with copying - a company can legitimately look for inspiration from other companies without losing any uniqueness or originality in the process.

Thank you to Morten Graversen for his comments on what it’s like to be a Strategy and Operations Manager. You can find him on LinkedIn, as well as Christopher Cloos (or on their website). 

If you want to read more about entrepreneurship, company culture, leadership, or marketing, see Nicolai Vittrup’s blog or reach out to Nicolai Vittrup himself on LinkedIn. To learn about everything SEO-, PPC-, and web-related, see Webamp

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