A Meeting With...
What is your proudest achievement? I genuinely think it's yet to come.
I've owned and co-owned businesses for more than 10 years and I'm immensely proud of what I achieved, but the task of growing W North into one of the region's biggest agencies is really getting the blood pumping. Most London-based PR shops who establish northern operations head to Manchester. W is the first to come to Newcastle, and that's so exciting for me, W and the region.
What advice would you give to someone starting in your career? Immerse yourself and get as much experience as you can. Don't be afraid to walk out of work experience roles if they're not right. We all have to start somewhere, but if you find yourself just doing the teas and filing, leave. There are scores of other places who'll give you real, relevant experience.
Which individual has inspired you most and why? There isn't one individual I try to emulate. I'm not a Newcastle United fan, but there are lots of things to be drawn from how Rafa Benitez overhauled a toxic culture at that club. The smallest of gestures changed the mood completely. I enjoy Gary Veynerchuk's direct attitude too. His content is insightful, honest and entertaining. A great lesson to anyone trying to get their message across on social channels these days.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given? 'What's the worst that can happen?' I live by that daily. We all fear making tough decisions, even if it's just an awkward call to a contact or client. But the world's not going to end if they tell you to bugger off. It's so easy to put things off or say 'no' because you fear the consequences.
In reality, I've found the worst that can happen is really not that bad at all. The upsides are usually phenomenal.
Understanding that the worst really isn't all that bad has freed me up to take big chances and make bold decisions.
What's the biggest challenge you've faced in your career so far? Leaving a very, very good job in London to come to Newcastle for personal reasons 16 years ago. It turned out to be the best decision I've ever made. This narrative that Geordies somehow don't embrace outsiders? That's rubbish. I've loved every minute of my life up here. I'm in my (early!) forties, but feel like so many great things are yet to happen in a business sense.
How is your business going to change in the next 10 years? I can't tell you how the business is going to change in the next 10 days! Within weeks of establishing W North, we received a call from one of the most iconic North East organisations asking for our help. Of course, we have long-term plans to create something very special here, but you just have to be agile enough to react to the good (and the bad!) things that you just can't predict.
What do you like to do out of work? I enjoy my golf, but it's a game that desperately needs refreshing. The 'stadium' they've built around the 16th at Scottsdale in Arizona is part of the future at the top of the game. Gladiatorial, noisy and draws enormous crowds. That's great TV. Pro golfers need to speed up too. Unless you're a golf nerd, any newcomer watching it on the box will find it excruciatingly dull.
What do you always carry with you? Positivity. And a smile.
We all fear making tough decisions... but the world is not going to end if they tell you to bugger off