A Week in My Life: Pip Hulbert, CEO at Wunderman Thompson UK

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Pip Hulbert,  CEO at Wunderman Thompson UK, shares what a week in her working life is all about...

Monday

My alarm goes off. I hit snooze. It goes off again. I hit snooze. It goes off again. I hit snooze. This continues for the next 30 minutes. I am not a morning person.

I lie in bed and decide the priorities for the week; family, school, home, work and make a mega list. I can’t function without a list, which everyone always thinks is a sign of a super-efficient person. Not necessarily, it can be the sign of a forgetful one. I write everything I need to do on my phone for easy reference, so I don’t forget.

I travel into work listening to different radio stations. Monday can be a Vanessa Feltz kind of day; by Friday it’s usually switched to dance music.

From the moment I arrive in the agency there is a buzz and a pace that is super exciting. On Mondays, I like to have a regular routine of set meetings to connect with the Exec team, seniors and the new business team. I like data and review a series of dashboards to track both client and employee satisfaction and act accordingly. Importantly I also like to see the work we’re producing for our clients and help identify and shape opportunities to push boundaries and connect creative, data and technology to develop great work.

I have some set rules that I always follow:

  • I make sure to speak to at least one client either on the phone or face-to-face daily
  • Attend a dept/team meeting once a week to connect to the wider agency
  • Say thank you and acknowledge the work that people are contributing every day
  • Ensure we are inspiring our clients and each other
  • Make it fun

This week the client I’m most in contact with is BT Sport as we have our ‘Red Lioness’ campaign running. Building on the success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup BT Sport has teamed up with Greene King who has pledged to show an equal number of women’s and men’s games in their 750 pubs from now on. This is a big step forward for the sport and it’s created a lot of buzz in the agency.

Every Monday evening our family all do yoga together (yes, you’d be surprised if you know us). But it’s a good way to have a shared activity, be energised, stay bendy and remain focused for the rest of the week.

Tuesday

This morning starts like every other with my daughter serenading me with her last-minute guitar practice in the bathroom while I get ready for work. It’s a regular feature that we have officially named “The Bathroom Concert Series”. I wrote to her guitar teacher and requested some contemporary hits, so Twinkle Twinkle is thankfully long gone.

Every Tuesday, Wunderman Thompson’s leadership team meet to discuss our internal initiatives. We are focused on three priorities; our clients, product and culture. This week we’re discussing our diversity and inclusion agenda. We launched a new initiative in partnership with LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall earlier in the year and with their support we’re running an employee engagement survey to help us offer a truly inclusive working environment.

This week we’re also bringing our newly recruited D&I Manager up to speed on our wider curriculum of support programmes. We are proud to have a large range of initiatives that help support our talent, ranging from helping to get women into leadership roles to improving sustainability efforts in the agency.

It’s important to me that we have initiatives that are relevant to us as a business together with ones that help support the local community. We actively look to work with suppliers in the Camden area as well as making an effort to support female-run businesses. This stems from a recent campaign we created called Fund Female to help promote and build a community for these small businesses. For example, rather than working with one of the national catering companies our café is run by a lovely Brazilian family who own a local Camden restaurant. Alongside our Grolsch tap, we also stock Brewgooder who donate 100% of profits to clean water supplies.

In the evening I attend a WACL dinner with our Centrica and Ribena clients. It’s never been more important to inspire and support the next generation of senior female agency leaders. It may be a big-ticket event, but the quality of speakers and connections you can build there make it truly unmissable. 

Wednesday

We have a Wunderman Thompson Immersion session today, a monthly half-day event for new starters. It’s designed to inspire and provide an overview of our broad range of capabilities.

I am always there to welcome everyone and introduce the session. It’s a brilliant way of getting to know people; I love to keep as close as I can to everyone in the business and offer support and encouragement.

Our numbers are growing fast at Greater London House this year so we’re having to reimagine our space so that it fosters collaboration and creativity. That means there are a lot of refurbishment projects on the go. We’re building a new Learning Lab, and every week we meet to discuss progress. I love to roll up my sleeves and get involved in the detail as much as the big picture.

The broader context is that we’re looking to design spaces within our building to help us evolve how we work so that we can deliver what clients are looking for now and into the future. We know our industry is changing fast and we want to provide an environment that meets future needs. To aid this we’re collecting data to understand how employees and clients use the office. The insights will help us create the best possible space and resources to encourage and support collaboration, which I firmly believe is the best way to keep people happy and productive. It also helps teams to think differently and deliver truly surprising and exciting work.

We are currently trialling different techniques of sharing and presenting work to clients. It’s now not unusual for us to present creative without a single powerpoint slide. I’m meeting with our Shell clients and we stand up and look at creative concepts and move ideas and thoughts around and scribble notes up on the walls.

Thursday

Thursday is the day my daughter’s homework is due. I usually find a discarded assignment at the bottom of her school bag. Last week, I had to help out by composing a poem about an insect in two minutes flat. I hope the teacher didn’t notice my handwriting.

We have a new pitch in so we get together and assess the opportunity and best understand who to cast and how we start tackling their business challenges. We use a unified way of working called Collision which brings diverse minds together to tackle a brief differently.

Towards the end of the day, the whole agency gets together for our regular weekly meeting. I aim to be informative, honest and transparent as to what’s going on in the business, so everyone feels involved. Once a month we have a gameshow style event where we spin the “Wheel of Wunder” to find out who’ll be recognised for going above and beyond and living our Wunderman Thompson behaviours.

Everyone has the opportunity to vote for a colleague and albeit it can take some time I read out all the submissions and invite the individuals with the most nominations to come on down and spin the Wheel. The funny thing is that the wheel is pretty old now and its cogs aren’t quite what they used to be. So, when you spin, it mostly lands on the top prize of £1,000 cash – not a bad prize to be going home with!

This month our Marketing Director won £500 worth of travel vouchers and took a weekend trip to Chicago for a hen do she’d otherwise have turned down.

Because my day is mainly spent in meetings, I have to do most of my learning in the evening. I’ll use my phone to take pictures of things that inspire me, articles I want to read or brainstorm ideas scribbled on paper. I’ll scroll through what is essentially my catalogue of thoughts and remind myself of things that have caught my attention. This usually inspires further thoughts and actions for me to add to the list. I think it’s always important to read about what’s going on in the world and help ensure our business is constructed to support future growth.

Friday

Friday starts on the South Bank with a meeting at the pretty spectacular Sea Containers. I meet with the wider WPP network each month to ensure we’re connected and offering our clients connected capabilities and access to talent. 

Heading up north to Greater London House I meet with our Learning and Development Director to discuss the strategy for 2020. We invest a lot in training and this year evolved our Lunchtime Lessons programme. These are 30-minute sessions we hold each week in the Black Cat Café welcoming partners such as Kantar, Karma, Phrasee. They also showcase our work such as the NCDV The Not so Beautiful Game that won a Gold Cannes Lion. We have one today with Movable Ink who have invented the ability to change the content of an email at the moment the email is opened. There’s a particularly good turnout this week- the pizza probably helped! 

After lunch and a slice of pepperoni, I meet with the Duracell team following the launch of our new Power On campaign. It was a significant piece of work for the agency, our first campaign to launch after winning the client earlier this year. It’s important we get together to discuss what lessons learnt and to recognise and celebrate where we’ve done well. 

I round off the week by looking at the list I wrote on Monday. The end result looks dramatically different, but I like to end the week reviewing what went well, what could have gone better and think about our people and clients. The new list is starting to form even before the weekend starts!