"Personally, challenging my weaknesses and developing to become a more rounded leader."

What inspired you to follow this career path?

I studied Music Technology at The University of Edinburgh and started to experiment with installations and interactive soundscapes. Through that I connected with students from Edinburgh College of Art where I helped out with some coding of some "new media" pieces.

That combined with the contemporary art scene in Edinburgh, graphic design and music videos by artists like Underworld, Tomato, Designers Republic, Raygun magazine and a "Cool Britannia" expo on Horse Guards Parade inspired me to hunt for a job in “new media”.

What was your experience of getting into the industry?

It took me about 9 months after I graduated, having lots of interviews along the way. I developed a showreel CDROM that got me in the door, but no experience held me back, lots of folks thought that with my background in music I only wanted to get involved in the audio/music side or projects. I finally got a break as a junior after helping a kitchens and bathrooms shop build their first website.

What were some big opportunities that shaped your career?

My first break with a junior role at ImageSenter. My first pitch, in a dark room just after lunch with a bunch of cliché looking directors of a pharmaceutical research business – I sprung to life surprising myself and the others I was pitching with – we won it and I caught the pitching bug!

Deciding to work at Whitespace rather than a bigger more established agency as my second role. Working in New York and watching the leadership manage an agency in decline. The founders of Whitespace seeing my potential for leadership. Key client wins – too many to mention. Lastly, joining Dentsu in 2018.

What challenges did you face?

Wow! Hard question. The ups and downs of agency life = winning/losing clients = either being manic or worrying we haven’t got the revenue we need. Key moments when we have had to let people go have been really hard. Personally, challenging my weaknesses and developing to become a more rounded leader.

Have you ever had to make a difficult career choice?

The first agency I worked for offered me over £10k to stay for 6 more months, I turned it down for a job (at Whitespace) I felt would help me learn more. Then hundreds of difficult board decisions. Lastly, deciding if it was the right time to join Dentsu in 2018 – hindsight suggests it was totally the right moment providing us the resilience we needed through the impact of COVID-19.

Looking back, what opportunities do you wish you had when starting out?

I don’t ever think about the past in this way… I’m always more future focussed. But I guess I learnt lots from my managers and directors early in my career, but it would have been useful to have experienced working in a much larger agency.

If you could give one piece of advice to your former self, what would it be?

Start a search engine with Terry in Summer 1995!

Phillip Lockwood-Holmes, Managing Partner, Dentsu Creative