Inspiring Careers: Matt Conway

As part of our Inspiring Career series, where we uncover the diverse careers of people working at Three, we are talking to Matt Conway, our Head of Go-To-Market (GTM)!  

We want to celebrate the uniqueness of each individual’s career journey, sharing stories that inspire and ignite the spark of curiosity.  

Hi Matt, so what did you see yourself doing for a job when you were younger?

My first idea of what I wanted to do as a career was to be a teacher. Loved the idea of that – was going to be Sciences mostly, with a little bit of Spanish thrown in. There was a thing in my head about bringing new ideas and knowledge to people and really couldn’t shake the idea that it be the perfect job for me, plus doing it in Spain would mean I wouldn’t be cold all the time. 

Tell us a bit about your career path at Three and how you came to be in your current role. When did you join Three and what role did you start with?

I started working as a cleaner in a new store that opened near my school  – was a new shop that sold Pagers, Fax Machines, Landline Phones and now and again a fancy new thing called a Mobile Phone. So after school a few nights a week I would call in there on the way home, doing the cleaning and tidying up the displays and things. During the Christmas period, the Manager there asked me if I wanted to pick up some extra hours helping in the store, manning the tills, and doing delivery bookings and such. I loved it! Chatting to the customers and working the till was great fun. 

I was hooked then on new technology and fast forward some years, March 2008 and I joined Three as a Store Manager in Manchester, moved around a little, and did a stint as an Area Manager covering Bristol down to St Austell stores (beautiful part of the world in the Summer!) ending up in Head Office in a Performance Manager role, and eventually into my current role in the Consumer area looking after Strategic Planning & Commercial GTM Delivery. 

What moment in your career stands out the most for you and why?

There are two things that stand out to me over my time at Three – the first being the time one of my DRs got promoted to be my peer. It was such an amazing feeling of pride in them, seeing them achieve their next career goal and step up. Whilst I was of course sad to lose them from my team, I always felt my role was to help them grow and develop – so the logical outcome would be them getting promoted, and was over the moon when they got it! 

And secondly winning a Christmas incentive, where the prize was a trip to Brazil – the prospect of going to a place like that and experiencing the sights and sounds we did was just out of this world. Up until then, the furthest I had ever travelled was Lanzarote, so this was the absolute adventure of a lifetime. 

What is the best advice you can give someone who wants to try something new in their career whether that is an internal move or someone thinking of joining Three?

Do it, do it, do it! When I was working in Retail, I never thought that there would be a different path for me to take – and don’t get me wrong I LOVED my job in Retail, I just had never thought outside of working on the high street. When the opportunity came up for a secondment in Head Office, I was originally full of doubt about it – telling myself all kinds of things like, “You don’t have a degree” “You have worked in Retail all your career, how can you work in an office” “Who’s going to pay attention to you”. But how glad am I that I didn’t listen to all of that and went for it! I cannot imagine now, the person I was back then – full of doubt that was kind of overwhelming and felt impossible to overcome. 

From those coming out of Retail and Contact Centre, through to changing functions within Head Office – and it’s one of the biggest reasons I love working at Three – this seemingly unlimited opportunity to embrace career changes and challenges, with the full support of those around you.  

Are there any expectations you have had about your career path along the way that differed from reality, in both good and bad ways?

Things for sure didn’t go the way I thought they would over my career path so far! But I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far, including the many twists, turns, and different directions it has gone in. A few things I have learned for sure that are important to me and the job that I do are this: 

  • I must be doing something that makes my mum proud – she is my biggest cheerleader and loves to hear what I have been up to and it gives me the biggest smile to see how proud she is. 
  • Having a chance to lead groups and create an environment where people can be their most brilliant is what gets me out of bed in the morning every single day. Once upon a time, someone took a chance on me and changed my career path, and forever since then I always look for the chance to “pay it forward”. 
  • The ability to effect meaningful change in the business – be that in my core day job, or through various forums such as Pride@Three, supporting our Commercial Grads, or being a part of our Commercial Engagement team – I bring my best when I feel empowered and able to make a difference to our people, our customer and our business. 

What motivates you in your current role?

The people. The wonderful humans, both within my team and those we work alongside every day. There is something quite magical here, that you cannot put down in words, but it is there nonetheless… bring a group of Three folk together with a challenge, a problem, or an opportunity and you will see it unfold. Now don’t get me wrong, it can sometimes be bumpy along the way – but the spirit and attitude of the teams is unwavering, and it never ceases to amaze me what we can achieve when we come together and get cracking with the task at hand. 

What are the top 3 things you have learned during your career that you would like to share? Can be anything, whether that is about yourself or others or the company

If I had to say which three things remain in my mind over the last 15 odd years it would be: 

  • Treat others how you would like to be treated yourself – job grade, role, department whatever it is you think is defining a person, we are all people. Be kind, respectful, and honest.   
  • Be authentically you – a good friend taught me years ago that “putting on a show” or trying to be the person you think others want you to be will always catch up to you eventually. The very best person you can be is well… YOU! Staying true to yourself will always stand you in good stead. 
  • You don’t need to know all the answers! Often in the past, I believed to be a good leader, I needed to be smarter, work harder, and know more than anyone else. By setting such an example to others, I lead people to believe they could never live up to expectations. Not only do we get a better solution, but also create an environment that is more enjoyable and brings out the best in people. 

How would you describe the culture at Three?

Ever changing yet remaining the same! The place I started working at then has transformed many times over. But whilst our brand has evolved, our goals have been updated and well even the office many of us go to work in has changed – something has always remained the same. And that is the Three spirit – the real sense of being in this together (whatever the “this” is at the time) – the attitude and desire to do a great job has never changed. 

Have you taken part in any leadership training and if so what did you get from it? Would you recommend it etc?

Over the years here at Three, I have attended some leadership training such as “Leaders at Three” which was a pretty intense offsite training program, including role-play with professional actors (playing the role of tricky situations you might come across as a leader) through to self-development or time with a coach. And one thing for sure I have learned is a little bit cliché but remains true to me… you get out what you put in. I relish the opportunities where there are mixed departments in training together, and you get a chance to learn more about a colleague’s world, and what a day in the life of their role looks like.  

I would say take any chance you get to learn and develop with others, seek out the chance to be curious about other teams, and build a better understanding. I am booked onto coming up is the Mental Health Skills for Managers, and one I feel is incredibly important for any of our people leaders out there. 

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