Name Gareth John
Job title Head of sales and marketing
Company The Met Office (commercial division)
Can you explain your role at the Met Office’s commercial division?
In 1996 the Met Office became a trading fund. In April 1999, the trading
divisions of the Met Office were separated, with one division (called
business division) looking after our core government customers of the
MoD, CAA, BBC and the Public Met Service, and the other called the
The commercial division was created to service all UK and international
customers who are non-governmental. For example, we do business with
well over half of the FTSE 100 companies. My role is the first head of
sales and marketing for the commercial division and the first ’outsider’
to be appointed to this role. This recognises the necessity to
commercialise the Met Office more aggressively.
How did you get into marketing?
Having moved through a sales career in publishing, at companies such as
VNU, EMA and the Daily Mail Group, I recognised the need to broaden my
experience. Jumping straight from sales. I took the advice of a friendly
consultant, who said: ’Get lucky or get an MBA.’ I chose the latter and
was able to change direction smoothly.
What made you move from the Daily Mail Group to the public sector?
Probably the recognition that having acquired an MBA and having had a
brief sojourn in the financial services market with Save & Prosper, I
had largely operated within the publishing and business
information sector. Having seen the Met Office job ad, I thought that it
was definitely the job for me. I never felt like I was joining the
public sector because the commercial division operates like a commercial
What was your big break?
Without doubt, successfully completing my MBA.
What are the challenges that the Met Office faces?
The Met Office has to come to some conclusions about its
future.Globalisation is one of the most pressing issues, as weather is
obviously a global phenomenon, and most developed countries have their
own independent Met Services, which largely duplicate each others’
The main challenges for the commercial division I see are twofold.
First, we need to demonstrate to businesses how using weather-related
services can help them build a sustainable competitive advantage. In the
major sectors in which we operate, such as retail, media, marine and
utilities, we have successful relationships with key players where
’weather-sensitivity’ has been proved to be a major threat/opportunity
Moreover, for our leisure customers, the challenge is to deliver
affordable and accessible products which add value and safety.
Second, we need to attract a new breed of recruits who are skilled in
commercial development, especially in sales, marketing and increasingly
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Hopefully fly-fishing somewhere and watching Wales win something!
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Head of sales and marketing, The Met. Office Commercial Division