Welcome Dan. Tell us a bit about your professional career to date.
I’ve enjoyed over 20 years in both commercial and creative roles within the media industry working for a range of businesses including a large media owner at the Telegraph group, content agencies such as Press Association, and latterly full service and PR agencies where I have worked with a varied range of clients from start-ups to global brands across a wide variety of verticals. My experiences in both commercial and creative roles, inside and outside of agencies, gives me a somewhat rounded perspective on what successful campaigns and client relationships look like.
You’ve worked in agencies as well as in large organisations. What do you think are the best and worst things about agency life compared to working in a massive company?
I have tended to work down from larger to smaller organisations as I have progressed through my career. My first role at The Daily Telegraph was during the boom times for traditional media giants. The perks were there from the jollies abroad to the golf club memberships, the subsidised cafeteria and the expense accounts, but that was probably as much a reflection of the times as the size of organisation.
What you lose in a larger organisation is the ability to have as much autonomy and be able to impact your role and business in the same way you can at a smaller organisation. It seems natural for me to want to move into smaller organisations as I become more experienced as the opportunities to continue to grow both personally and professionally can be more readily available in a smaller organisation. Also a smaller team pulling in the same direction can engender a real sense of togetherness and camaraderie that is harder to generate in larger teams and organisations.
You’ve joined Motive as agency strategist what will you be doing in the role and what are your first impressions of the agency?
It’s an exciting time for the industry right now as businesses take advantage of digital media to communicate with their audiences in more effective ways. Motive is perfectly placed to help drive this change, and I hope to help build on the fantastic work Motive is already doing to grow the digital presence for our clients. I have been so impressed by the energy and talent already within the business and I am excited to see what we can accomplish in the coming weeks, months and years ahead.
You studied creative writing at Cambridge. Who / what are your favourite authors and books? I’m guessing you’re into high brow stuff not Harry Potter or Dan Brown?
I loved the Prisoner of Azkhaban which is the best Harry Potter book in my opinion! I have also read four or five Dan Brown books in the past, although it is true, I would probably be shunned from my creative writing group if I said that I was reading those books now. The great thing about doing the course is that you get to discover some fantastic authors you wouldn’t normally come across. I was really taken with 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak and His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. My favourite book is unsurprisingly by my favourite author. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy is a book that can be read as a simple chase story, a crime thriller, or a meditation on what it is to age and become irrelevant to a world that doesn’t stop moving forwards. Deep I know, but I enjoy stories that have substance.
Did Shakespeare really write those plays?
If he didn’t, he certainly did a great job fooling the world. What Shakespeare did well is to take ideas from respected sources to create his works. He wasn’t afraid to steal the ideas of others and then make them his own. As T.S Eliot famously once said, ‘good writers borrow, great writers steal.’
Who is the most famous person you have actually met?
This is a difficult one as the only names that spring to mind are of the celebrity variety, but we aren’t talking anywhere near Taylor Swift levels. I did meet Sophie Ellis Bexter once and she was utterly charming.
Do you have any pets?
I don’t currently have any pets but I had pets growing up. Tilly Thompson, our family cat, lived until 25 years old and I remember us leafing through the Guinness Book of Records as children to try to find out if she was a record breaker. After Tilly we had 2 parrots, a green Alexandrine and a white Goffin cockatoo. If anyone doubts the intelligence of animals I would encourage them to spend time with some of the larger birds.
Finally, any annoying habits we need to be aware of?
I tend to have a habit of running my hand through my hair when I’m thinking which can be distracting potentially, and I am an old school ‘hammer’ typer. One day I vow to take a touch typing class to save the hearing of anyone in my vicinity.
Welcome to the team Dan!