Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m a former journalist and previously worked in magazine publishing across leisure titles and then for a business portfolio. I went freelance in 2009 and picked up a great assignment working for Red Bull which then led on to many more varied and broader projects which eventually required me to build a team to deliver globally.
Alongside this I began integrating design services and strategy work for SMEs across the marcomms spectrum and Method evolved from this.
Tell me about your agency.
Method is a brand communications agency based in Cambridge. We’ve stayed small, with a team of 12 and our ethos is to focus on longstanding relationships rather than aggressively chase new business – we have extremely high client retention and still work with our very first few clients almost a decade later.
I didn’t plan to start a business, but rather wanted the freedom of working for myself and it happened organically as I discovered my skills were broader than writing. I am a very motivated person and have strong conviction, so I wasn’t great at working in environments that lacked opportunity or entrepreneurial thinking.
What do you think the are most important issues for developing your company culture?
It’s a fine line between empowering people and letting standards slip – our business is built on excellent client service and proactive thinking so embedding those behaviours has been key. When it’s your business it’s hard to let go and that’s been a long journey… but the team is flourishing and recruitment is sometimes challenging as we put fit before all else. Our team is very close and we are all very respectful of each other, something that I think is essential in a great team dynamic. We talk things through and have a very open culture – fully transparent and nowhere to hide! Not everyone wants to work in an environment like this and so I am quite particular about bringing in new people.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a women in business?
I haven’t really found too many challenges that I think can be attributed to gender – possibly I am less aggressive than some of our male-led competitors when it comes to new business and growth, but that works for me and our team. We want to love what we do and feel good about coming to work!
The Wow Company’s recent survey of 471 agency owners across the UK has the figures as Female 27% – Male 73%. Can you share you thoughts on this?
I’m not surprised that there are so few women leading agencies in the UK. It requires some sacrifices and to be credible in such a competitive sector you really have to be able to hold your own. Historically the ad agency world was run by men and there is definitely still much of this culture visible – but as the work/life balance agenda grows there are more opportunities for women to have a life and a successful business.
Do you have a mentor, or are you a member of an agency owner community?
I have worked with a mentor for the past four years and it has been invaluable in working out what I want from running a business and how to develop a strong team. I’m not massively into the agency networks for the moment but can see their value if you’re looking to grow awareness and reputation for new business purposes.
What other female founders inspire you?
I am a big fan of women in publishing – my role model when I first went into journalism was Vogue’s recently departed editor Alexandra Schulman. In the agency world, there are so few around but some very strong creative leads.
What do you think makes a great agency?
Great people, uninhibited thinking and absolute awareness that we are being paid to do great work – so never get complacent! I’m all about entrepreneurial thinking and really value that in people. We like to get shit done… and with a big smile ☺
What would be your one piece of advice to future female leaders?
Don’t underestimate what it takes to build a business and be prepared to give yourself to it entirely to get it moving. Don’t let your fears stop you and remember to enjoy it… I believe when you love what you do and the people you do it with, good things happen by themselves.