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Interview with Chris Hirst, Managing Director, Grey London

Research ProjectThe next interview for my research project on Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries was with Chris Hirst, Managing Director of Grey London advertising agency. Grey London is a top-10 advertising agency with 200 staff and over £300 million in business. The agency benefits from being part of an enormous network, employing 9,000 people worldwide.
Chris Hirst

Chris read Engineering Science at Oxford before beginning his career at SP Lintas. Hired as a Planner, he quickly switched to Account Management, then to BBH where he worked on a range of domestic and global brands including TAG Heuer, Audi, Olivio and Remy Martin.

In 1999 he joined Fallon London where he helped pitch and win the award-winning Skoda account and a place on the BBC roster which he ran until he left, being responsible for Radio 1, Radio 1xtra, BBC3 and BBC Music Live. He was also responsible for the Sony Europe and Citibank Europe business. As Client Services Director Chris restructured and ran the Account Management Department, ultimately helping build one of the strongest departments in London.

Chris joined Grey London in 2003 as Managing Director. In his three years at Grey Chris has overseen a major turn-round in the Agency’s financial and creative fortunes. He has day-to-day responsibility for the Agency’s Client relationships, the implementation of its Business Plan, its people and its processes.

He is an average tennis player, a below average golfer and a fatalistic Newcastle fan. He is married with two small, but very noisy, boys.

In the interview Chris describes ‘managing relationships’ as a key skill in advertising, and talks about the challenge of motivating and co-ordinating staff, including dealing with inevitable conflict. He takes a pragmatic approach to people management, breaking it down into the specific behaviours that have a positive impact on performance and development.

Click the ‘AUDIO MP3’ icon below to hear the interview.

Table of contents for Research: Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries

  1. Take Part in My Research – ‘Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries’
  2. Research Project: Definition of ‘Coaching’ for this Project
  3. Research Project: Definition of ‘Creative Industries’
  4. Questionnaire for Managers in the UK Creative Industries
  5. Questionnaire for Employees in the UK Creative Industries
  6. Online questions for UK Creative Industry Staff
  7. Interview with Mick Rigby, Managing Director, Monkey Communications
  8. Research Project Featured on ‘Better Business Blogging’
  9. Interview with Ruth Kenley-Letts, Film Producer
  10. Interview with Chris Arnold, Executive Creative Director, BLAC
  11. Interview with Russell Davies, Advertising Planning Maestro
  12. Interview with Chris Hirst, Managing Director, Grey London
  13. Interview with David Roberts, Senior Project Manager, Creative Launchpad
  14. Interview with Neil Youngson, Technical Director, Cabinet UK Ltd
  15. Interview with Greg Orme, Chief Executive, Centre for Creative Business
  16. Interview with Chris Grant, Consultant, 14A Conversations
  17. Interview with Antonio Gould, Consultant, and Sara Harris, Screen Media Lab
  18. Interview with Richard Scott, Surface Architects
  19. Interview with Ben Demiri, Brand Manager, SIX Showroom
  20. Interview with Sian Prime, NESTA Creative Pioneer Programme
  21. Interview with Jill Fear, CPD Manager, The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising
  22. Interview with Terry Childs, Creative Director, Silver Chair
  23. Interview with Matt Taylor, Director, Fat Beehive
  24. Interview with Mark Earls, Advertising Contrarian
  25. Interview with David Amor, Creative Director, Relentless Software


  1. I think this is a very interesting and much needed study. I work in health care settings promoting the creative arts. Doctors are now beginning to realsie that more is needed for recovery than just medication. Medication is vital of course. Any thinking person can be creative in whatever sphere of life but we are often not presented with the challenge of thinking beyond our routine tasks.
    Creativity enhances living and gives a purpose to daily routine. It helps individuals to view their work in a new light and to value themselves and others that they work with.

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comment Wendy. Yes creativity has many dimensions and applications outside of the ‘creative industries’, it’s good to know my study is of interest in other contexts.