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Thursday, 15 April 2021

My WFH Routine: Claudius Boller, managing director of Spotify Middle East and Africa

Claudius Boller, managing director of Spotify Middle East and Africa: Each week, my Morning / WFH Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Claudius Boller, managing director of Spotify Middle East and Africa (LinkedIn). Edited excerpts from our conversation:

My name is Claudius Boller, and I’m a proud father of two kids and the managing director of Spotify Middle East and Africa. Spotify is a Swedish audio streaming subscription service founded in 2008, with 345 mn active monthly users globally and 155 mn paying subscribers. I’ve been in the region for over 14 years now and have loved how vibrant it is. I joined Spotify about four years ago after working at a major record label.

My job is exciting and my role is constantly evolving: We first launched in the region in South Africa and followed that with 13 new markets across the Middle East and North Africa in 2018 where there’s a rapidly growing young population. Our mission at Spotify is to become the number one audio platform for music discovery.

We consider ourselves a global brand but we’re 100% localized. Although I’m currently based in Dubai, I used to travel around the region — where we have a multitude of local partners — very frequently over the years. Since the pandemic hit and things went online, travel has been put on hold. It took a few weeks to adjust to the lack of in person contact but as a global company, the majority of our meetings were already virtual, so the transition was pretty easy. We do miss our office though, which is a great collaborative space for our team and for creatives to come in for visits.

Today, Spotify has a Work From Anywhere (WFA) model, which allows us to work from wherever we do our best thinking. Employees have the chance to choose a work mode — whether they’d prefer to be mostly at home or in the office — as well as their geographic location. We believe that work is not a place that you go to but something you do, which is a philosophy I think will contribute to a longer term transformation in the way we work.

I’m usually woken up at 8 am by my daughter jumping on the bed or by my smart speaker playing a Spotify playlist. I check in with my family first thing in the morning then go for a quick run and some exercise — which has been helping me sleep way better at night. I start my work day by checking in with my team and then I read the news, I have just started reading EnterprisePM and I find it very informative. I like outlets that provide an overview of what’s going on in the region.

I like to plan my days a week in advance but there’s always something new and exciting happening at Spotify so we’re quick to jump on new things. Otherwise, most of our work is guided by a five-year strategy, so I tend to check in on how we’re working towards those goals. Sometimes I take a break in the middle of the day for a few hours to focus on family and our newest born child, who’s almost three months old, which means I shift my schedule to work later in the evening.

WFH has helped a lot with staying on top of parental responsibilities but Spotify has always been very accommodating of both paternal and maternal leave for parents. I always encourage my team to block time in their calendars to focus on their personal needs. The key here is communication so everyone knows exactly when to expect each other online.

We saw a lot of people discovering new genres through our platform during the pandemic, particularly genres for winding down, getting better sleep and meditation. We see a lot of children’s songs picking up too as families spend more time together at home.

I listen to a new playlist everyday to help me switch off, and by doing so I discover new music on a daily basis. Otherwise I go for a swim with the kids or go on a walk. I try to go surfing from time to time when the morning waves permit. My time has been very family oriented this past year.

For books I’d definitely recommend Dare to Lead by Brené Brown, especially now. I’ve been following the Netflix show Drive to Survive with my wife, which is about Formula I. Watching this season shot during the pandemic is especially interesting because you can see the challenges of managers trying to keep their teams together while traveling the world to compete at empty race tracks.

The best piece of advice I’ve been given was from my wife, who said be authentic and be human. This is how we connect.

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