Role and company:
CEO of Audit Bureau of Circulations
The most recent audited figures (to 31/3/12) are £5.7m.
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:
Independence, integrity and expertise; we verify the measurement of media brands and platforms, such as newspapers, websites, events, tablets, magazines to standards agreed by the industry. Our role as a not-for-profit company is to help create these standards and then audit and report data and processes that are compliant with them
What’s the big vision for your business?
ABC’s vision is to offer a measurement and compliance service for all platforms and channels in which the advertising industry wants to trade, whether print, digital, face-to-face.
Current level of international business, and future aspirations:
We operate as part of the 35-strong International Federation of ABCs, who are each responsible for their own markets.
We have worked hard to future-proof the organisation, because, as the industry changes, ABC changes to keep pace with industry demand. As the global market progresses and the importance of digital media continues to grow, we need to strengthen our relations with global players, such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:
In my days as a marketing manager in the nineties, I led a team that launched a major new household cleaning brand, at a cost of many millions of pounds. This was based on some market research evidence that looked very positive, though some of it seemed to fly in the face of my judgement and experience. Once on the shelves, the product died a quick, painful and expensive death. From this I resolved to rely on my own common sense rather than grand theories and artificially-generated numbers when making big decisions!
What makes you mad in business today?
Businesses with no sense of any obligation to the society in which they operate and whose management feathers their own nests at the expense of shareholders, employees and customers.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?
It’s impossible answer this, as the current pace and scale of change in digital media is mind-blowing and unrelenting. Certainly the arrival of tablets has transformed the way people read and research things, which has had a huge impact on the media industry; this will be the age of mobile, for sure.
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?
In the advertising and media world, startups are relatively easy to get going, particularly in the digital age. I don’t think finance is a block but, of course, an uplift in the economy and advertising spends would be a great help.
How would others describe your leadership style?
Rather for them to say, but I aim to set a clear overall direction for the business, communicate it clearly and then let the individual teams build their plans on how to achieve the corporate goals
Your biggest personal extravagance?
Probably my wine cellar, though that is rivalled by my annual boys’ skiing trip to Verbier.
You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:
Stop creating endless additional regulations across every aspect of business activities. The promised reduction in existing red tape has been dwarfed by the constant creation of new rules, schemes and requirements; if you are a large multi-national, you have the people to cope, but small businesses simply don’t.
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