Q&A: Phil Rumbol

The former marketing director at Cadbury is now founding partner at agency 101, here he talks about his experience of a company restructure.

Phil Rumbol

Marketing Week (MW): How did you decide what to do on leaving Cadbury following its takeover by Kraft?

Phil Rumbol (PR): I knew what I didn’t want to do, which was another big corporate marketing role. The restructure meant I could take some time out and work out what I did want to do. So I thought about what I would find enjoyable and fulfilling.

Restructures are a fact of corporate life, particularly when you get to marketing director level. It can be disconcerting when it happens to you, but it gives you the chance to pause and reflect on your career and what you want from it. I’d decided that I didn’t want to stay at Kraft after the takeover and that decision was more about the type of role than it was about the organisation.

MW: How did you manage the announcement of you leaving Cadbury?

PR: Restructures play out quite publicly and that can be somewhat disconcerting. I was keen that there was a press release about it and that I was able to input into that, so it was positioned in a way that was what I wanted as well as what the company wanted. Then in terms of what you do next, rather than sitting and waiting for the world to come to you, go out there and meet people.

I didn’t want to do another big corporate role. I wanted to do something a bit more entrepreneurial and the chance to start my own business with my partners seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.

MW: How did you know that setting up agency 101 was the right thing to do?

PR: I asked Cadbury to pay for a career coach, someone who could help me work out what I want. From our first conversation, he said it was clear to him what I wanted to do. When I talked about the different options, I betrayed an energy for starting up an agency.

MW: How are you finding agency life having spent most of your career working for big companies?

PR: It is very different but I would be disappointed had it not been. In my old world I would get in the car, drive to an office and enjoy the trappings of the corporate world. I had a team of 100 and would spend all day in meetings and wading through PowerPoint presentations.

Now I’m much more in control of my own time and much more focused on marketing, content and working with a much more diverse group of people. That is really energising.

When I talked about my career options at the end of my time at Cadbury, I realised I got the biggest buzz from the marketing side of things. I was finding the more senior I got, the less marketing I was doing and this change of direction has allowed me to change from spending about 20% of my time on marketing stuff to spending 95% of my time on it.

MW: How does it feel spending your own money at the agency?

PR: It is much smaller numbers but it feels more live. The buzz you get when you win some new business is very difficult to compare with anything that I experienced in the corporate world.

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