What’s your role at RLA?
I’m Commercial Director and one of the four board members of the business.
Ok, so what do you actually do?
My role is one of the less definable by pure job title because I get involved in a number of diverse activities due to my experience and skill set. I’m principally responsible for handling all business development opportunities we are presented with at RLA; new business pitches and tenders and large projects with existing clients. I’m therefore also responsible for our outbound marketing, social activity, presentations and speaking schedule and our new business campaign drives.
I have the privilege of representing our parent group, the Mission Marketing Group plc on collaborative projects which may involve pulling together multi-discipline expert teams to answer a specialist client brief or collaborating on new innovations to take to market or even simply delivering an international campaign with the aid of our global offices, such as Shanghai or San Francisco.
I’m also the subject matter expert to our automotive accounts and our larger and more complex automotive strategy/consultancy/commercial projects which keeps me heavily involved with clients, in a number of markets, on a regular basis.
What makes working at RLA different to other agencies?
This is something I get asked a lot given the business development side of our business, so I find this very easy to answer:
On the cultural side we’re some of the nicest people you will ever have the pleasure to meet, very little egotistical posturing and a business that is genuinely focused on going the extra mile for our clients.
On the commercial side, we not ‘flaky’ like we often hear said about your average creative business. We create a lot of serious marketing output, big campaigns for big clients and a lot of that comes with a responsibility to take data and technology seriously and really know what you are doing – and have the expertise and resource to follow it through.
So, told as one phrase, it’s ‘effective niceness’.
What industry trend or technology are you most excited about?
The rise of the machine(s).
Perhaps surprisingly, I’m less interested (just now) in the very latest tech (I leave that to our technical and creative teams), I have little to no time to be distracted by what’s supposedly the next big thing. That is until the practical application becomes clear, and as soon as it becomes commercially useful, then I get excited. I’m certainly not an ‘early adopter’, I’m more of what is called the ‘early majority’ or a pragmatist, but once the gimmick has died down, the potential for meaningful technology to transform almost every part of our industry is truly exciting.
What’s your best memory from RLA so far?
From a business perspective it was winning our BMW MINI Global account. It was a massive win, hard-fought, technically complicated and fraught with complex buying/purchasing negotiations, that it felt like we had won the whole world when we got the news – a contract for 27 markets and a minimum of 5 years. Best win yet.
From a personal perspective it is hard to choose. We’ve had a number of hugely funny moments over my 10 years at the agency because the friendship and camaraderie is excellent (it has to be to offset how hard we work during the day). But I think it was an Xmas party a few years ago which ended with the sun coming up at 8am and a few of us spilling out the Camel Bar in Bournemouth to bright sunshine and finding our previous MD sitting on a wall covered in blood and bandages after a (still) not totally explained visit to A&E. Then finding further colleagues in various states of self-inflicted injury and embarrassment around the general area. Carnage.
All I can say is, ‘work hard, play hard’.
What are you most proud of (career, personal, go for broke)?
Being recognised for my commitment to everything I do in life. If something needs to get done, at work or at home, I won’t stop till its finished, and finished well; and that commitment to my clients and friends has been fed-back repeatedly over the years, which is really nice. As The Rock said recently (check my other posts) “it’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice”. I like that a lot.
When you’re not in the barn, what do you get up to?
No idea, I never leave work!
But when I do, Sam and I are always renovating or building something, travelling abroad (either to clients in China or South Africa for example) or in our funky VW camper in Europe, or I’m jogging the length of our glorious 7 mile beach which is only 400m away from our house.
You’re in control of the Sonos, what are we listening to?
METAL!!! A big disappointment to some I know, but I grew up around rock music at high school and I had a great bunch of friends where almost my entire social circle revolved around the fantastic heavy metal scene in Glasgow. We had several vinyl record shops, several rock bars and a couple of sizable rock clubs and almost every band who was anybody, always gigged Glasgow, so it was easy to see live music at any one of the several venues (there’s about 40 live venues or so in Glasgow overall) but my favourite has always been the Barra’s (Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom) – for me, the best live venue outside of London.
What would you do if you weren’t in the marketing industry?
I almost chose Architecture at Uni but I’ve a good friend who’s in that game and it seems a little to ethereal in practice. So, I think I might be a property developer and be more hands-on with turning design and ideas into a built reality. I’m definitely a ‘maker’ of some kind.
Which other RLAer is most awesome and why?
Our MD, Sam Smith. She's my wife so I guess I should say that eh? But the best is, she is exactly who I would choose because for me, Sam is the most dedicated and trustworthy colleague I have ever worked with in my career. And we're very different too, which adds a healthy degree of Ying to my Yang. A perfect partnership. In my eyes anyway ;)
Summarise RLA in one word.