My Media Week: Dean Wilson, Active International

Managing the London and Australian offices is a juggling act for Dean Wilson, UK managing director and vice-president, international at global barter company Active International

Dean Wilson, vice-president, international, Active UK and Australia
Dean Wilson, vice-president, international, Active UK and Australia

Monday

First off I drop my three children, Esme (11), Grace (six) and Sam (four) to school and nursery, mediating any fights en route. Then it’s to the office for a meeting with my PA, Heather. We run over the upcoming week’s diary and she nags me about missing receipts.

Since last September I’ve handled Active’s Australian office, as well as the UK, which poses a new challenge - working to two time-zones. I skip lunch and work at my desk until my regular 4pm call with my boss, Frederick Fuest, who runs the other global offices from Dusseldorf. It’s a round-robin call - I update him on my regions and he gives me the group point of view. After a fairly relaxed day, I’m home by 7pm. My partner Kate organises a sado-masochistic boxing fitness session. I head to bed early with only minor injuries.

Tuesday

Up at 5.30am to call our Australian office where the new managing director, Tony Harradine, joined in December. I’ve been in his shoes and it’s daunting. The Australian barter industry is growing, with competitors rumoured to be entering the market, so we’re doubling our team. Lunch is with the director of a media buying agency, who is interested in what we can offer. I spend much of my time demystifying the barter industry for agencies and clients.

Head back to the office to meet our commercial director Matt Shreeve, who joined from Channel 4, to discuss upcoming client business. Back home I catch up with the HBO series Pacific – I’m a bit of a military history buff!

Wednesday

It’s the first management meeting of the new year. As a small team, everyone shares ideas and it’s easy to act on issues. After reviewing our half-year results to Christmas (up 35% year on year) we discuss the nuts and bolts of the business. That afternoon I join our head of marketing to meet Bear, our creative agency. It’s an opportunity to discuss upcoming work.

We’ll use Bear in Australia, leveraging on marketing collateral created here. We spent a lot on our website, but elements such as the voiceover will need adjusting. Back home in Wandsworth Kate and I head to a favourite gastropub, The Earl of Spencer, to celebrate Kate’s birthday.

Thursday

It’s another ‘Australia Day’ so I’m up at 5.30am (somewhat regretting last night’s extra pint) to phone Tony. We plan my upcoming trip in March, during which I’ll cram in as many agency meetings as possible. The Aussie ad industry is much smaller than here. There’s less aggression, and senior people are far more accessible; they don’t play the ‘title game’. It’s a vibrant scene - if I was in my early 20s, I’d be tempted to relocate, but leaving my kids would be too much of a wrench. As it is, with four trips a year, I have the best of both worlds.

After lunch with our director of account management Lionel Becker (a cheap and cheerful affair at Savoir Faire), it’s time for a two-hour call to our New York head office. We’re offering more global solutions than ever, so it’s important to keep regular contact. The 11 managing directors meet annually and relations are good, so any inter-office politics is easily resolved.

Friday

Head to town for a 9.30am catch-up with our PR agency, Eulogy. All our marketing collateral is in place, so now it’s a case of promoting both the barter industry and our position within it.

Our US operations director Dave Gallagher is over, so it’s a liquid lunch at All Bar One, New Oxford Street, where he’s treated to the delights of lukewarm British beer. By 3pm back at the office, it feels like double physics on a Friday afternoon. I speak to our New York IT department, discussing how to leverage our IT spend in the UK. Next, it’s a call with our US legal department to resolve an ongoing issue. The legal attorney is the owner’s daughter, so that’s interesting!

I head off at 5pm sharp to collect the kids and entice them to meet the newest addition to the family, an Xbox 360 Kinetic (purchased just for them, obviously).

Weekend

Walking on Wimbledon Common and, as an avid Blackpool fan, I sneak a look at the footie results on my BlackBerry. We lose to West Brom, and I get an abusive text from [Brom fan] Rob Atkinson at Clear Channel. It might be karma - when The Tangerines last beat them, I couriered a bag of the fruit to his desk.

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