How Rob Richardson got ahead

I like telling stories, I always have done. Initially I wanted to get into film but its a long road from lowly runner to being able to influence the final product and I didnt have the patience for that! Once I started designing websites, I quickly realised that working with brands was all about telling stories.

Name: Rob Richardson
Company: enotions
Job title: Managing director

What made you want to get into brands/advertising/media/marketing?
I like telling stories, I always have done. Initially I wanted to get into film but it’s a long road from lowly runner to being able to influence the final product and I didn’t have the patience for that! Once I started designing websites, I quickly realised that working with brands was all about telling stories.

How did you get into the industry?
Contacts! I did a BA Honours Media and Design course at Portsmouth that fed IBM with the most talented students for their multimedia departments. I was not one of the talented few, but friends of mine were and they put in a good word for me. I drifted around for 6 months after graduating with dreams of becoming a filmmaker, doing a number of pretty awful runner jobs before joining IBM Multimedia Solutions as a copywriter. As soon as I started working with the web everything fell into place and I never looked back.

What was good and bad about your first job?
I think this first job set me up for my career to date in terms of my approach to work and my knowledge of the web. IBM Multimedia Solutions was only a small team so there was no way you could just be a designer or just a copywriter. You had to learn and take on a number of skills across the web spectrum. So very quickly, I went from being a copywriter to being a designer and a developer and learning the range of skills to become a producer. This grounding set me up for life. The only bad thing about the job was it was my first introduction to the world of unnecessary corporate red tape and rules. Mind you, nothing is a waste of time and I was able to see the inefficiency of the system and ensure my own company never made the same mistakes.

List your jobs to date:
Runner – various film and television companies
Copywriter – IBM Multimedia Solutions
Producer – Interactive Media Centre IBM
Senior producer – IBM eBusiness
Creative consultant – Netsite Integra
Managing director – enotions

What were the best and worst, and why?
Well, barring my role as MD of enotions (as that is by far the best), I think being a producer at the Interactive Media Centre IBM was the best job. It was 1996, the web was still in its infancy, and we had the resources of IBM behind us but without the restraints that came when IBM created the management-centric eBusiness centres.
The worst was probably the creative consultant role. It was a case of a bit too much too soon. Whilst I was able to handle the work, I don’t think I was mature enough to handle the responsibility that came with it. I was 28, I was heading up the consultancy team for a European media player and I lost sight of what is important in life. I got out when I realised where I was headed. It was a painful experience but one I have learnt from.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?
One of the consultants at IBM, Leo Patrick. When everyone was still trying to grasp what the web could mean for business, Leo was actually in getting businesses to put plans for the web into action. He had an uncanny knack of being able to walk into any business and within twenty minutes explain to them how they could transform their business process and efficiency via the web.

Who in the industry do you most admire?
Jakob Nielsen. An unpopular choice with most designers but the usability stuff he has been harking on about since year dot of the web is now part and parcel of the web experience.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
Winning the work to development the whole family of PepsiCo juice brands online: Tropicana, Copella, PJ Smoothies and Tropicana Go!

On what do you base your success so far?
First and foremost, hard work. Shortly before starting enotions, PJ Smoothies’ founder, Harry Cragoe, said to me, “If you love what you do enough to work 18 hours a day, every day for three years, then set up a business doing it.” That’s been pretty spot on in terms of the time it’s needed. You get lucky breaks, being in the right place at the right time definitely helps. But I think our approach to work and clients has been a huge advantage. We’re very down-to-earth and personable. Clients and their needs come first and cash comes second.

What are your ambitions?
To move sideways! It would be fantastic to continue to bring more prestigious talent through the enotions’ ranks so I can stop boring everyone and they can start running the show.

Change one thing about your job
A desk phone with a longer battery life. At a push I can get one hour out of my phone (if I keep returning it to its cradle) before it dies on me. It’s a killer on those conference calls when I start beeping and then vanish from the conversation.

Change one thing in your industry
The web tends to be one of the first things the client thinks about when planning a campaign but one of the last things to be considered regarding deadlines.

What is your favourite brand?
Apple. Currently everything they touch turns to gold and even when they trip over their own feet they do it with such aplomb they receive a rapturous response, as with the recent iPhone launch.

What is the next big brand in your view?
Joost. Online TV is going to shake the foundations of the entertainment industry. Broadcasters take note.

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