#1 Chris, you joined saintnicks over 4 years ago. How have things changed in the agency since you came on board?
The two areas that I think have evolved the most in the last four years are structure and culture. We’re now in a position where we can selectively partner with the most ambitious clients, the budgets are bigger and our talent is greater. The result? Better work. When you have fewer clients of higher calibre, you’re able to focus on the work more – and I believe we now have the right people in the right seats, with the strongest team in play since I joined.
Our culture has also become more open. ‘Culture’ for me isn’t about an office dog or bean bags or a slide – it’s about bringing together ambitious talent that strives to create great work. It’s important for us to be transparent about all matters, which keeps everyone engaged and feeling part of the mission of the agency.
#2 From Head of Finance to Finance Director – how is your role changing and what does this move mean for saintnicks?
With year-on-year growth, it’s natural that needs have changed in the business. My role has become more outward looking and commercially focused, which means we can make better decisions around future opportunities. My job is to look at how, operationally, we can get there.
#3 What aspirations do you have for saintnicks? What are some areas you expect us to really grow into?
We are 10 years young this year, and for me it’s about building on the footprint we have created regionally – inspiring the next creative generation along the way and having more of our work being recognised through awards.
Major areas of growth for us will be in strategy, employer branding and ESG, as clients navigate the next 3 years.
#4 saintnicks is moving towards B-Corp status, which you have led on. How can (and why should) businesses incorporate ESG targets into their day-to-day?
It’s simple: companies with higher ESG performance are likely to have better financial performance, talent retention and long-term value creation. The starting point for any company wanting to embrace ESG targets is to review all areas of corporate governance using a tool such as the B Corp assessment. It’s a great model which will help create actions and targets that can be reviewed, before being reported annually alongside the published stat accounts. If this topic isn’t on the agenda, it should be!
#5 Do you have any particular highlights from the last 4 years you want to share?
Momentum has been key and I continue to enjoy working with great people who challenge and inspire the agency. I’m particularly proud of how we responded to the pandemic as an agency. The team was always priority here and it hit home how important it is having a ‘purpose’ – it’s about knowing what you are doing when the sh*t hits the fan.
We started paying it forward, continued doing work for clients while budgets were on hold and this helped us forge even stronger relationships in a very tricky time. We didn’t panic, and we’ve come back bigger, better, and stronger.
#6 What piece of saintnicks work are you most proud of?
I love the ‘Strong Made Stronger’ campaign we developed for Help for Heroes. Through sharing veteran stories of strength, the campaign shifted the audience’s perception of strength and demonstrated the invaluable role Help for Heroes plays in the recovery journey. “While it takes strength to serve in the Armed Forces, it takes a different kind of strength to live life beyond injury.” I thought it was brilliant.
#7 Running a business is not an easy task at the moment. How do you see the cost-of-living crisis affecting our line of work?
History shows us that those brands that do not continue to invest in themselves, viewing marketing as a discretionary cost and reducing spend, will suffer in the medium to long term.
I think we are entering into an interesting 3 to 5 years for the industry. It’s a huge opportunity for strong agencies to get a foothold, helping to guide clients through changing market conditions. Clients will need to partner with agile, experienced agencies to navigate what’s next.
#8 Our client base has become more widespread across the globe – why do you think that is and do you see it continuing?
It’s testament to the agency. We have made key hires in the right areas and talent attracts talent which then produces great work, and this makes progressive clients trust us in their direction of travel as they continue to gain organic market share globally. Onwards!
#9 What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?
We’re currently running an R&D project around genetic algorithms. It’s designed to optimise web interactions and discover the optimum CTA button placement on a website. It may sound like small fry, but Amazon made an extra $300m in one year after moving one of their buttons. We’re hoping to gather enough data to determine the perfect size, shape, colour and placement of a button and maximise interaction. Once we’ve cracked the code, this will become an invaluable tool for our clients to optimise their sites.
I’m also in the process of finalising our B Corp accreditation. For us, achieving B Corp status isn’t a destination – instead, it symbolises our ongoing work to improve the company’s footprint for people and planet. That means volunteering days, internal changes, an internship programme and more! Stay tuned.
#10 Finally, give us a glimpse inside your brain – what have you been enjoying lately?
I’m a big podcast junkie – I’ve currently got Jon Evan’s Uncensored CMO, My New Football Club, Monocle and The CFO Playbook on shuffle.
I’m also reading Matthew McConaughey’s memoir Greenlights at the moment, which looks at stories and insights from his life. On TV, I’m enjoying Succession, (next up from Mad Men), and All or Nothing, a sports docuseries. I love the parallels between sports and business.
Finally, I try to visit 3 new places a year, we’re planning on going to Tasmania, Scotland NC500 and maybe the Rugby World Cup in France next year.