Oliver Matejka on mental health and workplace culture
Unmind's brand and comms lead Oliver Matejka on the importance of mental health and why culture is key. Find out what the marketing expert had to say below!
Please intro yourself
I’m Oliver. I work as brand and communications lead at Unmind, a workplace mental health platform.
What inspired you to get into marketing?
My two guiding principles for choosing subjects at sixth form were whether a) I got on with the teacher and b) they were easy enough to blag. I landed on art, business studies, and IT. Combine the three, I calculated, and you get marketing. So that’s what I studied. The course itself wasn’t hugely inspiring, but I was able to spend my days reading and discovering books I wanted to read. This enriched my life and outlook more than I think most degrees could have. By the end of the three years I knew I wanted to be a writer of some kind.
What are your memories of your first job and how did you get it?
I remember being really hard up – full-time in an entry-level position on £12k at a publisher in London – and confused by the office jargon. (I remember hearing the term ‘moving forward’ so often I assumed it was a product or campaign). One thing that happened in my first couple of months could’ve come straight from a Dickens’ novel. I was running late on the 5-mile walk to the office, too skint to afford the busfare. It was tipping down with rain and my boss was keen to know where the hell I was. The moment I picked up the pace I lost my footing on a drain and twisted my knee. I was immobile, in pain, just rooted to the spot directly outside the Houses of Parliament getting slowly wetter while watching Big Ben tick by. After a couple of years at the company I landed a job on their editorial desk as a content writer. I absolutely loved it and couldn’t believe my luck.
What things do you know now that you wish you knew in the early stages of your career?
Don’t worry about not having a plan. If you work hard, take on responsibility (just a little more than you’re comfortable with), and are generally nice to people and yourself, things will come through. Authenticity is more important, and the relationships you build along the way.
How do you think brands can cut through amongst the constant social scroll and content churn?
People can be risk averse, especially under pressure to hit targets. Using safe tactics may make incremental gains towards these numbers, but it means marketing strategies can look very similar, and also miss out on big opportunities. Good marketing is about making a connection with your audience; educating, elucidating, and entertaining. If you can do that, compounding results will follow.
Can you tell us about Unmind and what you do there?
Unmind is a workplace mental health platform. We empower employees to live more fulfilling and balanced lives by changing the way organisations think about mental health. The human brain is an intricate and fascinating thing, yet we spend so little time understanding it. We all – quite rightly – spend time brushing our teeth every day, and yet they’re infinitely less complex and interesting. We should think of mental health as we do our physical health – something to be proactively understood, nurtured and celebrated. My job is to communicate our brand and this philosophy to our audiences.
What’s a typical day like? And do you have any routines to get through the day?
Wake up to an explosive alarm at 6.30 and look at my phone. Get changed and head out for a run around Plymouth Hoe. Get back, look at my phone, fill my ancient coffee machine and start the first of many, many cups. Read or write till 8.30 or 9, when I start work. I aim to spend the mornings doing things that take most concentration, like writing or creative strategy work.
At lunchtime I’ll go for a walk while looking at my phone before reheating last night’s leftovers and reading for a while. My afternoons zoom by with progress meetings with our PR, social and marketing agencies, check-ins, collaborative work and editing.
I’ll clock off at around 6 or 7, look at my phone and cook dinner. After that I’ll read a book, or watch a film while looking at my phone. I’ll off load the day’s baggage into my diary, look at my phone and then go to bed. I like this lockdown routine, but am looking forward to more variety in life again.
Mental health is something everyone has to be aware of, particularly in the last 12 months. What kind of things can companies do to help their staff?
Culture is key. Especially for young people starting out; it’s so important to create an environment where people feel psychologically safe and supported. Ultimately this will lead to better-performing, more creative and happier employees – which makes sense on a human and economic level. Leaders often set the tone within organisations, so they should lead by example, demonstrating emotional intelligence and good working practices. Healthy working policies and employee mental health and wellbeing programmes should be prerequisites too.
What advice would you give to young people who want to work in marketing and at Unmind?
As you’ll have heard a million times before, it’s competitive out there. But you don’t always have to compete with educational background or even experience. The thing that’ll make you stand out – especially in a marketing role – is demonstrating you can solve the problem the employer wants to fix.
What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?
Returning to London after lockdown in Devon, running the Rome marathon (Cov-permitting), making gains towards writing a novel, and continuing to grow the brand and team at Unmind.
Find out more over at Unmind.