A: We set up the business six years ago, myself and my husband and business partner Sammy. I came from a business background, and was a sales and marketing director for a global outsourcing operation, where I headed up the sales and marketing teams. My husband worked for Rapier London, and then we set up our own business together because we like to do things ourselves, and that’s really how we kicked off with AgencyUK.
C: That must have been quite a scary step to take, going it alone?
A: Yes, but also really liberating at the same time, because we had developed a lot of experience in our own individual industries – I’d obviously worked client side, and Sammy had worked agency side, and we had a very clear idea of what we wanted to do and wanted to get closer to our clients again. We felt that we had become quite distanced and separated from our clients in what we were previously doing, so wanted to get that connection back.
C: So do you think that was the biggest motivator to be self employed?
A: Yes, I think so – you’re able to make decisions, and to make those decisions quickly. You can inform change in your business without any layers and, if you’re already passionate about what you are doing and want to go in a particular direction, you can enforce that and create a culture you’re proud of – which we definitely are!
We are also hugely proud of the people who have come through and developed with The Agency – career development has been great, and we are able to offer opportunities to people which we wouldn’t have been able to do had we not been self employed.
C: Ah, so you’ve had quite a few people come through like that?
A: Certainly – we try and do as much as we can. We have a work experience programme, which I put together about five years ago (a year after we started), that is specifically aimed at undergraduates. We get a lot of people applying from local areas – The University of Bath, Bath Spa, Bristol and UWE, but also further afield like Bournemouth, Cardiff and Cheltenham, Newcastle and London.
We also offer internships as well – Alez, who is working with us at the moment as an intern junior account executive, he’s on a 3-month internship. We also have two apprentices through the Trading Skills Alliance and Knowledge Transfer Network.
We are really happy with the reach we get in this way, so will definitely be continuing with it.
We’ve also done the Santander Internship programme through The University of Bath, which really was testament to Becky (Gallagher) as I didn’t know anything about that at all until she told me about it a few months ago.
C: Could I ask why you were interested int he industry originally?
A: Honest answer? I was originally in sales actually, and then I went into tender writing as well, then through to marketing via that. So that’s my traditional route. Whereas Sammy did a business degree, and then went through and actually got an internship himself with Air Products in Hersham – he did a graduate scheme with them, and then went into partnership with a company called Dolphin Marketing which was really ahead of its time with digital marketing. He then moved up the ranks working for a local company called Rhythm, and then he got the opportunity to open the West Branch of Rapier.
C: Your decision to set up in Bath – was that influenced by the local industry, love of the city or something else?
A: It was very much to harness the creative and digital talent within the South West, we think it’s second to none outside of London. It wasn’t to do with the clients or a lifestyle – it was because we could really gain access to talent that would help us become better and better.
Bath is a great place to set up for this type of industry!
C: What are you favourite things about the job?
A: How dynamic it is, how we are able to create solutions for clients that we can then use that to help other clients too, being able to utilise amazing new digital technology and really getting results.
C: Any advice for students, graduates or those looking to go into the marketing industry?
A: What I would say is it’s never too early to start contacting companies – even from GCSE level, start getting an idea about what you want, the kind of things you could do and just pick up the phone and talk to people. Most people are really happy to help, so just start a dialogue with someone in the business – because you’d be surprised by how much people actually want to help and inform. Develop a network outside of your own student group as well: try to get involved with workgroups in your local area (like CreativeBath or Bristol Media) and start forming communities and groups – don’t think that just because you’re an undergraduate you can only mix with other students! People really respect those who get themselves out there and are proactive.