Under the Radar with Keith Walker

Laura Rutkowski

The Group Product Director at Time Inc. UK offers a straight-shooting overview of his career, ruminating on how a shirt, jeans and brown brogues have become the media uniform – and why we should never underestimate the power of bar codes...

Keith Walker

What made you want to work in the magazine industry? 

I’d just left university, and having tasted working as a life assurance salesperson, I thought telling stories and joining in with people’s passions would be more fun than selling them life cover. It was. 

Can you chart your journey from when you started out to your current position?

I started in magazines, and then in the late 90s, I saw an opportunity and my boss at the time let me go and make some websites with what were our print brands. I built a bunch of sites using a WYSIWYG [what you see is what you get] editor, then moved into digital editing, audience development and now I work in the product team at Time Inc. UK. 

Do you have a go-to work outfit? 

Shirt, jeans and brown brogues. I think there’s a rule somewhere that states: “All middle- aged middle-managers will wear this uniform in media”?

What do you turn to when you’re on deadline – tea/coffee/snacks?

Nicotine. 

What’s the most unusual situation you’ve found yourself in because of your job? 

Doing 196mph on the wrong side of a drag strip with the car’s front wheels off the ground (and subsequently no control of the steering). 

What would people be surprised to know about your job? 

It’s really easy – you just have to be careful how you say “no” to people.

Walk me through your typical day. 

Stand up with team, delete emails, try and come up with a good idea, make sure everyone is okay, go home.

If you didn’t have to sleep, how would you use the remaining hours in the day? 

Running and really hoping someone at least invents naps soon (I love sleep).

What is the last photo you took on your phone (at time of interview)? Why?

Keith Walker Photo

Some dirty washing up, because I was testing some new filters on the photo app Enlight.

What’s your guilty pleasure? 

I don’t believe one should feel guilty about any pleasure, but Monkey 47 gin is a favourite.

Whose phone number do you wish you had?

I would love to be able to message HRH The Queen – how cool would that be? Imagine the conversations you could start with, “I’ll tell you what the Queen thinks about that…”

What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

“Don’t worry about it fella” when I asked about a barcode on a magazine cover proof. We printed the entire magazine run with the wrong barcode and it had to be stickered one at a time before distribution.

What/where is your happy place? 

Brixton Academy.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

That I’m only pretending to like them.

What would be in your Room 101?

Wheelie bags and people who insist on dragging their luggage behind them, instead of picking it up and carrying their tiny bag.

Introvert or extrovert? 

Introvert.

Optimist or pessimist? 

Optimist. The outcome is the same, but you are less grumpy while you travel there.

Film or television? What are you binge-watching at the moment? 

The final season of The Bridge.

Sweet or savoury?

Savoury.  It feels more sustainable than the “quick hit” pleasure of something sweet.

Morning person or night owl? 

Morning.

Tea or coffee? 

The only person who has ever made me a cup of tea died in a Cambodian nightclub, so deffo coffee.

Emojis – cool or cringey? Which emoji do you use the most? 

Eye roll emoji 

Cool. Face with rolling eyes, the one that was approved as part of Unicode 8.0 in 2015. 

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