Let’s talk about success: Stephanie Whitaker, Managing Director of ignis

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 now regularly interview Managing Directors of different ad agencies in the UK about the ups and downs of the business. Today: Stephanie Whitaker, Managing Director of ignis.

Stephanie Whitaker, Managing Director of ignis

1.) What do you thinks makes a successful Director of an ad agency?

I’m not sure there’s any one characteristic that exemplifies a successful director but I do believe that it’s important to be able to empathise with both Clients and Agency personnel alike. I find there are times when individuals in Client companies find it hard to express either their delight or, sadly sometimes, their disappointment with an Agency’s output so I see it as my role to be on our Clients’ wavelength, communicating their wishes to our personnel.

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

Jon Summerrill was CEO of my last Agency Yellowhammer and, quite simply, he inspired me to become an entrepreneur and launch ignis.

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

An ability to take calculated risks , a desire to be the best and practice continuous improvement in order to be so but, most important of all, blind optimism! This latter has allowed ignis to survive two global recessions and come out the other side still smiling :-)

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

When I considered starting the Agency I discussed my thoughts with a Client who had effectively become my mentor. I thought his approval of my idea meant he would move his business to ignis – he didn’t and the account stayed where it was, so I started without any business on day 1. The lack of the phone ringing certainly concentrated the mind and within 2 months we had 3 Clients.

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?

I’ve learnt that there is no time like the present. Especially when dealing with a setback.

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

Exercise – running is a great way to escape the pressing, but relatively unimportant, day to day issues and ruminate on the really important ones.

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

My 3 year business goal is to continue to grow ignis whilst retaining our unique culture. In personal terms, I’m fortunate that my love of travel dovetails nicely with business trips – so far this year, in terms of new experiences, I’ve visited Beijing, Havana and Istanbul (and it’s only May) and loved each city for different reasons.

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

Every business day spent with the team at ignis is a joy so no motivation required.

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

I have a very direct management style so I am always open with the team, both in terms of bouquets and brickbats. Fortunately, the former outweigh the latter.

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

I’m fortunate to have great support at home as well as a fantastic team in the office so between the two I’m able to accomplish a significant workload and still have a full social life: culture, particularly the theatre, is my passion, so I’ll always ensure I have time to indulge, even if it does sometimes mean reaching my seat at curtain up.

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

Actually a bit of both – I can work in controlled chaos myself but insist that the Agency is run impeccably.

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

I do love a list!