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How I Work: Professor Irene Ng, WMG, University of Warwick

This article was originally produced for lifehacker UK in July 2014. Follow this link to access the original.
Professor Irene Ng is the Professor of Marketing and Service Systems at WMG, University of Warwick and the Director of IIPSI (the International Institute of Product and Service Innovation), a space that enables businesses to access the very latest cutting edge product and service design technology, leading to the creation and testing of market leading products, services and new business models. Irene was CEO of SA Tours, one of the largest tour operators in Southeast Asia and the founder of Empress Cruise Lines, a company with an annual turnover of US$250m, which she sold in 1996. Her third book, 'Value & Worth: Creating New Markets in the Digital Economy', is available now for Kindle and in paperback via Cambridge University Press.

Irene NgFollow Irene on twitter: @ireneclng

Irene Ng Fact File

Location: Cambridge, UK.
Occupation: Professor of Marketing and Service Systems at WMG, University of Warwick, and the Director of IIPSI
One word that best describes how you work: Flexible
Current mobile devices: Two iPads (the air and the mini), a Samsung mobile and an iPhone 5S.
Current computer: I use an iMac at home

How does Irene work smarter? We asked her to give us her top productivity tips.

Delegate

My daughter’s graduating this year and she’s asked if she can choose what I’m wearing. All my clothes are in an app called Stylebook. She’ll pick up my iPad and create a ‘look’ for me based on my existing clothes, shoes and accessories. I think we have a lot of things in our lives where someone else can do a better job of it, and probably enjoy doing it as well. If not, you can delegate it to technology. Which is why I love technology. And I enjoy building teams.

Have a to-do-later list

I have a task list but it’s usually for things I want to put off. I have it to remind me of the things I need to do but can put off until the last possible moment. It’s not my actual to do list. My inbox is my actual to do list. Once it’s done, I delete or forward the message to the right person. I’m a fan of inbox zero and by Friday night I want to make sure it’s at zero – then I can have a pleasant weekend.

Feed me

A lot of my magazines and articles tend to come through a feed. I’ve tried different options but Facebook is the one that works for me; if you organise Facebook well, it can be quite useful. It gives me light-hearted listicles in between some serious newspaper and tech articles. I don’t like things to be too intense on any one subject for too long so it suits me to have a post from the allotment and vegetable grower’s group alongside an article on ‘Is Google evil?’.

Share and share alike

50 years ago, if liked an article I was reading, I would probably say ‘Darling, did you see this?’ and show the newspaper to my husband. Today, I click 'Like' and share the article online. Humans haven’t changed, we just have different ways to create value and meaning in our life.

Do nothing

A mentor of mine once said to me, and I think it says something about my leadership style, ‘never underestimate the power of doing nothing’. It’s especially useful when you manage a team. When something happens, usually the team reacts before me. I’ll wait for the dust to settle. The situation is often different by then.

Challenge yourself

When I was at the start of a three-year government funded fellowship, I outlined all the things I wanted to do and the publications where I wanted to publish, to my mentor. He asked me, “Why are you doing the same old, same old?! You’ve got three years to do anything you want and love. Do something hard.” If you take a look at my research, you’ll see I’ve taken on something that’s ridiculously hard!

Queen's Gambit

Everything you do is a chess game. If you are seven moves ahead of the guy who can think five moves ahead, you’re okay. With everything you do, just ask yourself – do you know what the reaction’s going to be or what’s going to happen and then what’s going to happen after that (and after that….)? If you know, and you think its still good to do it, then go ahead and do it. If not, wait. Or don’t do.


Professor Irene NgIrene Ng is Professor of Marketing and Service Systems and the Director of the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation (IIPSI) at WMG, University of Warwick. She is also a Senior Member of Wolfson College, Cambridge. Her third book 'Value & Worth: Creating New Markets in the Digital Economy' is available on Kindle and in paperback from Cambridge University Press (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1107627427)

This article was originally produced for lifehacker UK, click here to access the original.