Let’s talk about success: Tom Robertshaw, Managing Director of LRD-The Big Idea

Our German blog and its column “Let’s talk about success” are already well known in the agency scene of German-speaking countries. Since we have increasingly been growing internationally, we think it’s about time we also introduce some of our international customers on our blog. Therefore, we will now regularly interview Managing Directors of different ad agencies in the UK about the ups and downs of the business. Today: Tom Robertshaw, Managing Director of LRD-The Big Idea.

Tom Robertshaw, Managing Director of LRD

1.) What do you think makes a successful director of an ad agency?

Have energy & enthusiasm. You need to retain the excitement and passion you had when you first started in the industry and make it infectious.

Be organised & disciplined. Be open to the new and hungry to learn. Be supportive and provide the direction for your team to grow into the next generation of successful agency leaders. Stay grounded and be commercial. Remember you’re in the business of advertising but first and foremost you’re in business.

2.)  Are there people in the industry that have inspired you personally? If yes, who and why?

There has been many. Those I’ve admired from afar such as David Ogilvy, John Hegarty, Dave Trott, Jeremy Bullmore, David Abbott. But also those I’ve worked alongside (you know who you are!). In all cases they have brilliant anecdotes and stories to tell. Small insights that make you a better advertising professional. 

3.)  Which character traits are most important for your own successful career?

They say that agencies are built in the mould of their owners - we’re no different. First and foremost you need to be creative; motivated by new ideas and creativity. You need to be curious; hungry to learn about the clients' business and challenges but also about our industry, best practice, new technology, insights. You need to be collaborative; a team player that makes the client feel like 'we’re in it together’. You need to be commercial; motivated by delivering results. You need to be committed; inject energy and enthusiasm into everything that you do.

 4.)  From which mistakes have you learned the most?

Many. Learn to let go, trust those around you to do the right thing and do what they excel at. You can’t do everything all the time.

5.)  How do you deal with setbacks: quickly forget about it, or take a long time to deal with it and think about what went wrong?

You can put so much time and energy into projects that it can sometimes knock you for six when it doesn’t go your way. You can be bitterly disappointed in our business but the great thing about our industry is that there can be a big exciting opportunity hiding around the next corner. So usually you brush yourself down, learn from the experience and you move on.

6.)  What keeps you at the top of your game?

Knowing that I don’t know everything and probably never will. The hunger to do better, to learn new ideas and have new experiences. Not letting the team down; the continuous desire for the agency and its clients to share success. 

7.)  Which goals have you set for 2016 - work related and in your personal life?

Balance. Appreciate the good things both at the office and at home. Work hard. Enjoy life.

8.)  How do you motivate yourself to accomplish your objectives?

The great advantage of having a team ethic in the agency is that you can rely on each other - to pick you up, to inspire, to support, to push and motivate. Not one of us is as good as all of us.

9.)  Success in the communication industry - in professional practice it is always dependent on teamwork. How do you control your agency?

We combine our positive team culture and entrepreneurial, creative spirit with a disciplined agency process. We want to get to the best ideas quickly and cost efficiently. That means better strategic planning, clearer briefing, focused creativity and controlled time/cost management.

10.) Extra hours, pitching, and home office - that daily routine in an agency is often as creative as it is flexible. How do you stay on top of things?

Easy. By being organised.

11.) What type of time manager are you: Chaotic or pernickety organiser?

I’ve spent most my career working on retail advertising accounts. So I’m used to dealing with lots of deadlines, all of them tight, turning quality, accurate work around in short time periods. So I’ve been conditioned to be highly organised and plan for every eventuality. I like to see contact reports, status reports, timing plans, budgets, estimates. I don’t like surprises and nor do our clients.

12.) Are there time management methods you are using at work that you took with you into your private life?

No - I’m hopeless at home.