I never had to wonder why they call it ‘coming down’ from university, having spent all four years at Cambridge in an imaginary ivory tower I designed myself.
PR Agency Hill & Knowlton gave me my first full-time job, advising the new Czech government after the 1992 ‘velvet divorce’ from Slovakia. From there I joined Young & Rubicam Prague, where we won the first ever Cannes Lion by a Central European Advertising Agency (and for a Colgate commercial too).
Moving back to the UK in 1995, I joined J. Walter Thompson and was made a board director 3 years later at the age of 28. During that time I won prizes for work on Unilever, Kraft, Barclays and Shell, whilst also acting as non-executive advisor to the Director of Communications, Royal Air Force, and scooping first prize in The Times’ National Sales & Marketing Challenge.
I moved to Abbott Mead Vickers/BBDO in 2000 to run their flagship – the £120M BT Account – as well as Volvo and Famous Grouse. Four years later I made the switch from Account Management into Strategy and Planning.
More runaway success soon followed with our “Quote Me Happy” campaign propelling Norwich Union from 12th to 1st in the direct insurance market in 18 months (earning me the undying hatred of a whole generation of daytime TV viewers), and Nuts magazine becoming the fastest growing and largest men’s magazine in history.
In 2007 I was asked to join Norwich Union to plan for its eventual transition to Aviva (‘the slickest corporate re-branding in history’ according to The Times) and I ended up as Global Head of Marketing Strategy & Planning and, latterly, Internal Engagement Director.
I started as Managing Director of The Gate London, a fully integrated marketing services and advertising agency, on April Fools’ Day 2012.
I jump out of ‘planes for a laugh, live in a house that I built myself, with my wife and two sons, both of whom have been given proper boys names – and are already a good deal less confused than their dad as a result.
Never play cards with me.