Parenting at Zego: a quick Q&A with Chief Product Officer, Jason Tunstall

Written by Jason Tunstall

Published on

How important is diversity in the workplace to you, and what value does it bring?

Diversity in how we think is incredibly important to our work - and that is influenced by the diversity of our backgrounds, lifestyles, beliefs and experiences. We avoid a “group think” mentality through the power of our diversity at ZEGO.

As a parent, do you think Zego cultivates a culture that values your specific needs?

I have the incredible honour and pleasure of being a parent of a neurodivergent child and Zego’s culture of inclusion is a clear sign to me that there have been a huge positive change in the 20 odd years I’ve been working. Zego celebrates and educates in a way that, as my children ready themselves to enter the workforce in the coming few years, gives me faith that they will find companies and cultures, like ours, that will enable them to further level the playing field.

What are the transferable skills you use from parenting, in the workplace?

As a parent you’re constantly learning. I’m a Gen X parent with Zoomer kids - my goodness does it help keep you connected to have Zoomers around educating you regarding music, language, media and crucially to challenge your thinking, your beliefs and your biases. That need for flexibility and constant evolution is analogous to the demands of work in tech companies and especially a start-up like Zego.

What’s the biggest challenge of being a working parent?

My kids are teenagers and relatively independent as a result - I honestly don’t know if I’d be able to balance, or would choose to, my current role if I had a younger family. With that in mind, setting a good example to my kids is super important and a real challenge - and that means being incredibly open and honest about the pressures, pleasures, stresses and strengths that come with working life.

When my kids can see that the energy exchange between me and my role is out of balance they question why I would choose to do the role - that’s tough because they’re right to ask that exact question.

What piece of advice would you give any parent pursuing a career?

Be honest with yourself and your family about the compromises you are making and discuss the limits and expectations. I essentially take out a contract with my family where we discuss and agree on the compromises we’re willing to make over a period of time and monitor the actual impact versus the expected impacts.

What’s your role at Zego and where do you sit within the organisation?

I’m Zego’s Chief Product Officer and am a member of the senior leadership team.

What did you do before you worked at Zego and where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

I’ve been a freelance product lead for a couple of years in fintech companies and prior to that I was interim Chief Digital Officer at a telco group based in the Netherlands - hence why I live in Amsterdam today. In 5 years, I see myself running a glamping site on the craggy coast of some country or other, happy that I played a part in helping Zego become the company it aspires to be powering opportunities for millions of customers.

What do you love about your job?

The people and the problems. I love my team and the teams we get to work with - and the problems we are working together to solve for our customers.

Who have you learnt the most from at Zego so far? What have you learnt from them?

Our customers have provided the most insights, directly and via the Research team and the Commercial teams that are interacting with them. When buddying with CS on calls with Customers I am constantly reminded about how disconnected my reality is from the everyday reality of many of our customers and how much every penny and cent we can save them matters as well as every minute we can give them back.

What advice would you give to a Zegon on their first day?

Question everything and make data-informed decisions

How would your 10-year-old self react to what you do now?

He’d be wondering why I’m not working on Mars - that’s what I’d have expected to have been doing back in 1983 (yes, I’m old).

What advice would you give to your younger self?

That taking an opportunistic approach to life is fine - but don’t fool yourself that everyone has the same opportunities - so don’t pat yourself on the back, kid - work harder to ensure the opportunities that are open to you, are open to all.

Tell us about your typical working day…

I get up at about 7:00 CET and make a packed lunch for my son - he’s the only meat-eater in the house, except for the dog, and despite the handling of dead animal flesh, it feels like I’ve accomplished something by 7:10.

I have the benefit of working in a timezone an hour ahead of the UK so I generally start working at about 8 CET and that allows me 2 hours to get stuff done before meetings start. Most days I’ll be in Zoom meetings back to back until around 19:00 CET. There will be a wide range of subjects, teams and time pressures involved in each session which keeps it fresh and engaging - I’m also privileged to get time with other members of the leadership team and their teams - the pressures of doing a senior role are balanced with the variety of talented people you get to work with. Happily, now my team is almost fully staffed, the number of meetings is dropping off and I can use parts of the day to think and work - and maybe get lunch :)

If you could entice one (famous?) person, alive or dead, to work at Zego, who would it be and why?

George Orwell - I’d have him work on our long term strategy - he foresaw and foretold a lot of what has come to pass and could aid in predicting some of what will come next with access to the data points we have.

If you had unlimited money to start your own business, what would it be?

It’s a modest operation I’d go for - a labour of love in fact - I’d open an amusement arcade, called Flynn’s, full of classic coin-operated video games and pinball tables - I’d happily work there all hours of a day, repairing machines - and trying to beat the high score on the Terminator 2 pinball table. It’d be a space for fellow geeks to become gaming gods.

What’s your favourite way to spend a day off?

Walking the dog while listening to an audiobook, chatting to my family while trying some new vegan restaurants in Amsterdam and then playing Warzone with some fellow product people - talking shop, shooting the shit and trying not to get shot.

Where’s the next place on your travel bucket list and why?

Georgia - I used to travel to Tbilisi for work but never got to explore the mountains and countryside around the country. The country is fascinating, with one of only 14 unique alphabets, incredible food and incredibly innovative culture - like introducing police stations that are completely made of glass to exhibit their transparency and move away from corruption.

What was the last thing you read?

Day Tripper, a graphic novel by brothers Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba. I love Brazilian literature even from before my time living there, largely due to these guys and their adaptations of other Brazilian authors’ work (like Milton Hatoum’s Two Brothers)

If you had to choose a song to personify you, what would it be?