My Creative Life: Anthony Sullivan, product director, Cookpad
Creative Business News regularly gives a prominent member of the region’s creative sector the chance to reflect on their career, their work and their ambitions by answering 10 questions about themselves.
Job title: Product director
Current company: Cookpad Ltd
My big break: In 1999 I left the BBC to join a pregnancy and babycare website called BabyCentre. I didn’t have children at the time and so knew nothing about the area, but the role was product manager and it was a chance to break into a web related role. Sadly, BabyCentre closed its UK office in the dotcom crash in 2000 but that was my start into digital product management. I later spent 10 years working on BBC News and Sport and six years leading the product team at the Guardian. I’ve been lucky!
My first job: BBC News Strategy team. I joined the BBC to work my way into Grandstand or Match of the Day. I didn’t manage to make that dream come true but learned lots and was able to try many things. Working on products that are used daily by millions of people is a lot of fun.
My current role: I left the Guardian earlier this year and now lead the product and design teams at Cookpad. Cookpad is the largest community cooking and recipe sharing site in the world with nearly 100m monthly users across the world. We have a simple mission which is the make home cooking fun. We think this can change the world. It’s a mighty challenge and we’re building an ace team here in Bristol to make it happen.
My typical day: Normally get the train from home in Bath but sometime cycle – but not yet often enough! Although Cookpad is 20 years old, we are a start-up here in Bristol and every day is very different. Our most important priority is building the team, so a fair chunk of my time is spent on that. I’m also rolling up my sleeves to do a product manager’s job – which I’m sure is testing the patience of my engineering colleagues.
My proudest moment/project: My team at the Guardian winning Product Team of the year at the British Media Awards in 2015 was a professional high. We also won both Website and App of the year the same evening. Winning a team award was especially nice as it recognised the people behind the experiences.
My best piece of advice: There are many different ways into product management. My advice is to find something you really love that makes a difference. If you love your product, you’ll do a much better job. And if you don’t love it, do yourself a favour and start looking for something you do.
My ambition (that I haven’t yet achieved): A sub two-hour half marathon. I like running but I’m not very quick. Single figure golf handicap – currently off 13. And of course, seeing Cookpad have a measurable impact on the lives of millions. I consider myself lucky to be working somewhere with such a universal and fundamentally good mission.
My favourite creative work/campaign (that I haven’t worked on): Favourite recent creative work was the production of Into the West by the Travelling Light theatre company at the Tobacco Theatre in Bristol. It’s the story of two Traveller children and a mystical horse. Took my two young daughters who were spellbound. A magical example of the power of the imagination.
My predictions for the creative sector: I’m really interested in seeing how Augmented Reality experiences emerge over the coming months and the innovation and creativity that will spawn. A year ago, all the attention was about VR and head-sets but AR looks to have many more real world applications and the technology will soon be in the hands of millions of people.
My inspiration: Since leaving mainstream media I’ve met many more founders of start-up companies. I’m always excited to meet young founders who are fearlessly trying to make big things happen.