"Seriously, believing in the power of creativity, standing up for yourself and NEVER, EVER compromising (except when you have to) is a good philosophy."
What inspired you to follow this career path?
I was studying Biology at Stirling Uni and I realised a career in science wasn't for me, but as secretary of the Biology Society I had organised loads of social events and had gained a reputation for designing pretty amusing posters and invitations to their events so I thought I might be suited to a career in advertising - I suppose I thought I'd be a 'creative' although it never worked out that way in the end. Nevertheless, my love of creative communication was born and has stayed with me for 35 years now.
What was your experience of getting into the industry?
It was pretty easy although I had to 'retrain' by studying for a postgrad in advertising at Watford College. The college was massively connected and had a great rep (a bit like Napier does now) so opened doors, got me interviews and it was really only a matter of time before I landed something.
What were some big opportunities that shaped your career?
My first job at Hall Advertising. Jumping ship to a fledgling Leith Agency from that safe haven of Halls (who went bust a few years later - so not that safe) then starting my own agency, 1576 Advertising. Of course, establishing a subsidiary company in Whitespace was, of course, my greatest ever decision wasn't it!
I think also doing the Guardian's writing course, early in my career was a huge benefit too.
What challenges did you face?
If I'm honest, none really. I had to borrow money to study in Watford but that was soon paid back. I consider myself lucky. I've survived at least three massive recessions.
Have you ever had to make a difficult career choice?
To start my own agency. But it was a no-brainer, even if we had twins eight days after opening the doors and three kids under three years old. But we got through it.
Looking back, what opportunities do you wish you had when starting out?
A wider graduate training experience. I wanted to switch to copywriting but was hugely put off it by a close-minded management team at Halls.
If you could give one piece of advice to your former self, what would it be?
Don't take any shite from anybody. I didn't so I must have read my future philosophising.
Seriously, believing in the power of creativity, standing up for yourself and NEVER, EVER compromising (except when you have to) is a good philosophy.
Any other insights to add?
Don't get bogged down in titles either in terms of your 'rank' in the business or the job that you are compartmentalised into. Chip in above your station, and across stations. But be sure you are doing so with insight not just as a show off/blow hard.
Mark Gorman, Strategy Director, Dentsu Creative