Numero P

Working at global brand design agency JKR changed my life. It was the perfect end to my agency career, and I owe a lot to two great people; Ian Ritchie and Guy Lambert.

Ian Ritchie had such a profound effect on my career that I often find myself quoting him when I’m talking to the creatives in my department. He has a great outlook on life, in particular problem solving. He always starts by removing the unnecessary layers of complexity that people, in particular marketeers, so often feel the need to add.

“The world is complicated enough. We don’t need to make it any harder”.

“What are you trying to say and what is the point you are trying to make? Say that then”.

“There is no such thing as a difficult conversation in business”.

“Let the work do the talking”.

“Average work is never good enough”.

“Good is here, great is there”.

“To do great work you’ve got to focus on doing the thing you really love doing. When you do it, the work will speak for itself”.

“Can we just stop just doing reams and reams of ‘stuff’ that adds no value whatsoever and start with the idea”.

What separates Ian from all the other great Creatives I have been fortunate to work with, is he’s as much a businessman as he is a designer. He set out to make a living but was fortunate to do this by doing the thing he always loved, design.

Guy Lambert on the other hand, was different. He came from an advertising background, not a branding or design background. Kind of chalk and cheese in some respects, but what he brought with him from the advertising world was a professionalism that at the time the whole design industry needed.

I’ll never forget meeting Guy when he first interviewed me as not only was he the poshest chap I think I’ve ever met, but he nearly broke my hand when he introduced himself! Guy is a great leader. Despite being Global CEO, at the time I was lucky to report into him. He was a great mentor too. Guy is probably the only boss I’ve had who truly understood me. He knew I could be a nightmare to work with at times, but he also knew if he asked me to do something, I would think of as many different ways as possible to do it differently, just to push the boundaries.

Guy taught me a lot about the importance of looking after the people who work for you. He was a huge advocate of investing time, money and effort into nurturing talent, regardless of their position within the company. He cared a lot – which is why the agency has gone on to be so successful.

I always had a passion and burning desire to succeed. I shared a collective vision at JKR for us to win as many, if not more design awards than the big advertising agencies were winning. In my mind the only thing stopping us doing that was ourselves. We had the work, but not the belief.

When I joined the agency back in 2014 they had won a number of credible design industry awards over 23 years, mainly for great packaging design. When I left the agency in 2017, we had won well over 150 awards, often playing in other advertising agencies back yards and beating them at their own game. God only knows how many awards JKR has gone on to win since – they have only got better as their work is simply brilliant.

Impossible is nothing. You can achieve anything you put your mind to if you are prepared to work hard, believe in the work and believe in the people you work with. You will always be accountable for your actions but never be afraid to try something different, push the boundaries or get things wrong. Have no fear, because there is no shame in failing. Failing just means It didn’t work out on this occasion.

Copyright © Matthew Parkes 2020

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