My initial worry was how I could keep up with Tom
I Work For... Susie Murphy works for Thomas Kressner, Chairman and Chief Executive of Yes Television
Wednesday 19 April 2000
I said I would work one-to-one only if it was for someone really special and off the wall who would give me an unusual role. Sure enough, two years ago I got Tom. If you read his biography and saw his background in banking, you might imagine him to be a bit of a suit. But he's not rigid or boring, he's charming, tenacious, smart and he's able to see far into the future.
They broke the mould when they made Thomas Kressner, I've never met anyone like him. He has so much conviction that within 10 minutes of meeting him and having the revolutionary concept of Yes Television explained to me I had bought it.
I knew I needed to have that ability to watch what I want to watch when I want to watch it, to have control as a viewer as well as be able to shop and e-mail over the TV. I was also convinced this job would really work for me.
My initial worry was how to keep up with Tom. He is fast and he's a techno freak. He needs to keep up with new technology just as I need chocolate. His desk is like spaghetti junction, he has four laptops, several phones, a number of Palm Pilots and other gadgets.
The first few months were rocky. I hadn't done this type of role before and Tom didn't know me from a cake of soap. But we jostled along and got so used to each other we are now fairly intuitive. If I make a mistake I always tell him, but somehow he always seems to know already.
There are still Fawlty Towers moments, like when he needs extra computer equipment and I manage to send him the wrong one, or unplug something important while trying to find the missing part. He never fails to see the funny side and being Swedish has a particular way of saying things I call Swanglais. My favourite of his expressions is: "When the cat's away the mice are dancing."
In the morning I arrive at eight and Tom's raring to go. Sometimes I don't have time to take my coat off before he's briefing me. He is demanding in a high-maintenance way and you can bet that if he sets high standards for himself he sets them for everyone else.
But the interaction with him, and being on the spot, is what I most enjoy. My role is to organise his stuff rather than do secretarial work. His diary takes up a lot of time. There's no set programme, so I have to be flexible. His travel arrangements can change 10 times in a day. From the outset he travelled the world, meeting networks, studios and investors keen to buy the dream of television on demand, but these days his schedule is hectic. It's always been a busy office, but since the announcement of our flotation - and with the delay caused by the markets being so volatile - I've been maxed out.
The day the BT Yes Television pilot was announced, heralding a new interactive broadband television service, the atmosphere here was electric. It was marvellous to see the concept become a reality.
I'm always on call for Tom and I'd be really cross if he needed me over a weekend and felt he couldn't ring me. I expect to be involved.
Similarly, he would be one of the first people I would call if I had a crisis, regardless of the hour. We socialise together and when Tom invites you for a curry you wouldn't dream of doing anything else because he's fun to be with, mischievous and human. He's involved with his 115 staff, to steer, lead us and bring us together.
He doesn't have secrets from us and likes to keep us up to date with what I call "State of the Nation addresses". After the flotation announcement, he called us together to say how proud he was of us. He shares everything and has been insistent that everyone in the company be shareholders. However successful the flotation, I know he'll always be the same Tom.
The last two years have been a rollercoaster ride which has opened my eyes to a different world.
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