The 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 Â£300 million in business. The agency benefits from being part of an enormous network, employing 9,000 people worldwide.
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 Agencyâ€™s financial and creative fortunes. He has day-to-day responsibility for the Agencyâ€™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.