Hew Bruce-Gardyne
Hew Bruce-Gardyne 5 March 2018

The digital dozen – Hew Bruce-Gardyne, Co-Founder, TVSquared

The Digital Dozen is a series of profile interviews with thought leaders in the technology industry. Here we speak with Hew Bruce-Gardyne, Co-Founder of TV analytics and measurement company TVSquared, about his career path and ask the question on everyone’s lips... what's your favourite doughnut?

Name your three best qualities.

  • Trustworthy – a combination of honesty, integrity and dependability
  • Inquisitive – explained well by this cartoon
  • Interpretative – I specialise in explaining complex problems to those with perhaps somewhat less mathematic knowledge

What's the biggest lesson you've learnt in your working life?

To iterate. I now practise this by forming a rough sketch of anything I am trying to do, which I then share with others as early possible. From this point I then gather feedback and refine. This approach definitely helps to get the really large scale direction right before much effort is committed.

What has been your best idea yet?

Throughout my career, I’ve had many ideas but proposing to my wife definitely tops that list.

What advice have you been given that made a difference?

Always hire people brighter than yourself.

What’s the best thing about your work?

The opportunity to then work with those really bright people!

What do you think will be big in media in ten years’ time?

If we look back 10 years to 2008, Twitter had only five million users and MySpace was the big thing in social media with over 100 million accounts. Even Facebook was still largely confined to US college students. So, while I don’t know exactly what will be big in 10 years time, I can say with some certainty that:

  • The internet will always route around censorship and control. The more that Facebook and Twitter control – or are forced to control – what users can post and/or see, the more their demise will be hastened.
  • The replacements of today’s social giants haven’t been created yet.
  • There will always be a place for really original content. The delivery platform and format may change, but human ingenuity – and our desire to rejoice in it – is not going to be replaced in the next 10 years.

What career path would you advise your children to follow?

My wife mentioned that she constantly comes across people doing jobs that didn’t even exist 10 years ago. So as it’s likely that our boys will end up doing jobs that don’t yet exist, I’m excited to see what the future holds for them

All we can do in the meantime is equip them with a strong, basic skillset, to encourage them to work hard at school, and exhort them to do anything that satisfies.

{things you enjoy/are passionate about} ∩ {things for which you demonstrate an aptitude}

What career path would you be following if you weren't in your current job?

I enjoy being on my feet and explaining things to people – I could have easily ended up as a maths or physics teacher.

Which TV programme would you like to star in?

Taskmaster. This is a brilliant example of really original content – see question six above. A simple, quirky idea produced on a small budget but superbly executed. On a more serious note, it has much to teach us about the power of unorthodox approaches to everyday life. In particular, the winners are those who identify correctly the essence of the real goal – the thing that actually needs to be achieved – rather than focus on the narrow way in which the request is made.

Who would be your four perfect dinner guests?

A friend of mine once distilled the fundamentals of good entertaining to a simple mantra: “Get some interesting people in a room; give them something to eat, something to drink, and then step back and let them get on with it”. So for me, the important thing is to have interesting people who will be pleasant to spend time with and will get on with the other guests:

  1. Florence Nightingale – The first real data scientist. It was her innovative presentation of mortality statistics to Parliament that forced the change in nursing care.
  2. Thomas Young – “The last man who knew everything”. Elected a fellow of the Royal Society aged just 21, he was an astonishing character – An accomplished physicist (the “double slit” interference experiment, Young’s modulus of Elasticity), physician (including a simple rule for determining drug doses for children), and linguist (he wrote the Encyclopedia Britannica article comparing the grammar and vocabulary of 400 languages and played a major part in the deciphering of hieroglyphics using the Rosetta Stone).
  3. Richmal Crompton – The creator of the “Just William” stories. All good children’s literature speaks as much to the parents as to their children. The lightness of touch in her observation of human behaviour is a joy to behold. I think she would  keep us all grounded as well as entertained.
  4. Michael Palin – Apart from the obvious qualifications (traveller, raconteur, erstwhile Python), Palin was originally approached to host QI. We would not be short of conversation.​

What three items would you take to a desert island?

My practical side screams for a LeatherMan, Solar Still, and a tarpaulin for the food / water/ shelter needed to survive. But what a boring existence!

So assuming that it is a reasonably hospitable island and that the goal is to live rather than merely survive, I would want a surfboard for daytime entertainment, an iPod/Phone (with solar charger) to listen to music and scroll through photos – I have a reasonably organised photo library – and, blessed as I am with the characteristically blue skin of a Scot, lots of suncream!

And finally, the question on everyone’s lips... what's your favourite doughnut?

If you have never been to St Andrews, or have been there but not tried the Fisher & Donaldson’s Fudge Doughnut, you will never know what you have been missing. I can only quote their own blurb: “It has been foretold that those who are entrusted with the secret of the fudgie are descended from a powerful bloodline of pure-bread Viking bakers. Only the chosen are equipped with the weapons of the dynasty – the moderately impractical Shield of Custard and the surprisingly spiky Sword of Fudge.”

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