From scrum to digital – Account Director to build sector expertise

Last month, we welcomed a new Account Director, Gareth Martin, to the BH&P team. We think it’s about time we introduced him to the world, don’t you?

Tell us about your background in rugby – what did it teach you?

I was very lucky to get to play rugby at a high level for many years. In many ways, it’s not much different from a regular job, but I found I learned a lot about discipline in that time.

I think discipline is really fundamental to being successful in anything – although it’s much easier to embrace that mentality when you’re in a strict 7-day training schedule!

It also helped me to understand the value a single person has within in a team – in the digital world, where we have high levels of analytics and automatic reporting, the contribution of the individual in a team can sometimes be lost.

What prompted your life transition from rugby to the digital world?

In my early twenties I got a job doing in-house marketing at the Bank of America, with a focus on digital given to me as I was the youngest and therefore ‘savviest’. At the time, we were riding the .com boom wave and were keeping up with rapidly-evolving technology, so it was a pretty exciting place to be.

Since then, I’ve been fortunate to work with a wide range of clients, from pharmaceutical to financial services and lots in between. I’ve worked on clients such as Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim and Bristol-Myers Squibb in the pharma sector, through to others such as Queensland Credit Union and the National Australia bank in financial services.

The transition from life on the pitch wasn’t easy – a lot of young men struggle to make the change when their rugby careers end. I always knew I wouldn’t be a rich and famous player and was lucky to find a new career I was excited about.

But I know lots of people aren’t quite so fortunate.

As a result I’ve been sharing my advice through life-coaching sessions with a few young men in crisis, young women in business and even female bosses.

What we really want to know is… how was life Down Under?

Honestly, it was awesome! I spent 5 years in Oz after being offered a position to work in the digital sector for a big broadcasting firm.

Australia is a fascinating place to work – it’s a young economy but very driven towards the digital world. I learned a lot out there, working with clients like Warner Brothers, Sony, Harper Collins and Random House, and even ended up working in politics and government, placemaking and economic development.

IMG_2750(Birthday cake makes a very happy Gareth!)

You’ve worked in corporate project management before – what skills do you hope to bring to a super-creative agency like BH&P?

Working with BH&P poses some interesting new challenges for me. For example, how do you help to create structure and processes for people whose source of inspiration is inspiration itself?

Creative isn’t something you can programme.

It’s rarely delivered to strict timescales, and inspiration for the next piece is individual to the creative and their specific process.

If you work in the IT or telecoms sectors, for example, the rigors and processes are often huge, inflexible and often fiercely protected.

But with agencies like ours, we don’t have these kinds of boundaries.

We have a small team of experts that are capable of moving with real speed and agility, so I’m aiming to bring just enough essential process to continue the momentum of the agency and help it grow.

It’s great to work closely with our talented team of creatives and account handlers to help them refine their practise so they can continue to deliver good work again and again.

It’s a fascinating and a compelling reason to come to work.

What opportunities do you see in BH&P’s future?

 We punch well above our weight without the big commercial processes and resources that other agencies have.

I think that we have the opportunity now to develop a few of those ‘larger agency processes’ into ones that work for us, and with the efficiencies I’m introducing to the business, we’ll free ourselves to do more amazing work with more interesting and heavyweight clients that are looking to embrace a bit more creativity.

Finally, times are tough right now – what would your advice to our clients be?

Authenticity and honesty in your internal communications is the most important thing right now – these are going to be rigorously tested in the next few weeks.

When communicating outwardly as a business, you have to make sure you communicate with the highest level of emotional intelligence and integrity. The way businesses behave in the next 8 weeks will have a major impact in how they come out of this crisis later down the line – they’ll be tremendously successful.

Go on, give us an inspirational phrase to end on…

Well, Bill Belichick (coach of the New England Patriots) says one thing to his team of American football superstars every single week, and I stand by it too:

“Do your job.”

For us, that means doing our jobs without ego and agenda, and doing what we do with authenticity. The onus is on all of us as individuals to be the best version of ourselves that we can be – and to trust, and have faith!

… Was that inspiring enough?