My Media Week: Charles Courtier

This week, Charles Courtier, worldwide chief executive for MEC, works on the agency's 10th anniversary celebrations, while also traveling to its Amsterdam office for a quarterly meeting and taking conference calls with both Colgate and AT&T.

Charles Courtier: worldwide chief executive for MEC
Charles Courtier: worldwide chief executive for MEC


I'm an early riser, so I'm up by 6am and ready to take one daughter to the bus stop, before heading into Waterloo from my home in Hampshire.

It’s the first time I've woken up on a Monday in my own house in almost three weeks. Travelling is part and parcel of the job. My family have got used to me being here irregularly, so it's always nice to be able to have breakfast with them before catching up on The Times and The New York Times news via my iPad.

This week is MEC's 10th anniversary, so when I reach the office, I catch up with our head of marketing, Nathalie Haxby to review the plans across the 84 countries we operate in.

There's also a global EXCO meeting to prepare for in Amsterdam, which will be a good chance to catch up with our global chief executives and senior directors from North America, Asia Pacific and Latin America and Europe.

After a sandwich lunch, I meet with our newest recruit, Michael Dick, recently joined from Coca Cola EMEA as head of strategy for Global Solutions, London. He's settling in well and we discuss the project we've been working on together for Mercedes.

This evening I take my wife out for dinner in our local pub, before returning to home to discover with horror, the television-viewing habits of my three children. 'Made in Chelsea'? What is this programme?


From 6am, my BlackBerry is exploding with 'Happy Anniversary' messages from our Asia Pacific offices. The Taiwanese office even has a MEC band, which has recorded an anniversary song and sent it over for our amusement.

When I reach the London office, I send out 5,000 anniversary greetings on email to global staff, informing them of an extra day's holiday and attaching a special anniversary video message from Sir Martin Sorrell.

By lunchtime, I'm on the plane to Amsterdam. Although I get my daily news from my iPad, I still love the physicality of magazines. I read Q for the album reviews and flick through The Economist and Wired.

I celebrate our 10-year anniversary with the global chief executives and directors in an Amsterdam restaurant in the old part of the city. It's the first time I've been back to this city in a while and I love how young it feels – it has that feeling of a university town in the UK.


This morning’s EXCO meeting deals with ideas to develop our people and products around the world and the development of strategic leadership on behalf of our clients.

These once-a-quarter meetings take place in the different regional offices, so this time we're at MEC Amsterdam. Chief executive Eric Kramer gives us a tour of the office, which consists of 100% hot-desks for around 75 people. The system allows staff to switch teams depending on the project. I like this way of working and think it could catch on in the UK.

The Dutch management team decide to take us for a cruise along the Amsterdam canal network, which is a fantastic way to see the city. The boat stops outside three different restaurants, so we get to enjoy each dinner course in a different place.

Back at the hotel, I watch a bit of Sky News and channel-hop to find a local news channel. As I travel so much I always try to get a local perspective on what's happening in each place I visit. Mostly that comes from talking with the people I meet, but I always try to tap into the local media as well.


The morning is spent back at the EXCO meeting, wrapping things up and deciding on a strategy moving forward.

After lunch, I have a conference call with Visa Europe. They're a big sponsor of the London Olympic Games, so we discuss the plans before I head to the airport.

I like to catch up on my favourite television programmes during flights. I don’t have the attention span to watch a whole movie, so instead, I download episodes of 'Modern Family' and 'Mad Men' on my iPad.

In my job, you have to learn how to sleep on planes as well, otherwise the jet lag will kill you.

I'm home in Hampshire just in time for dinner and to catch up with my 19-year-old daughter about her gap-year travels around Costa Rica. My 16-year-old daughter is doing her GCSEs, so we chat about how they're going. This week, my 12-year son is away on a geography field trip.


The end of the week is a big catch-up day for me whenever I'm in London. My PA is a genius with my calendar and we spend time working on my schedule.

I have conference calls with AT&T and Colgate, and plan for an Asia Pacific management meeting that is taking place in Australia in the next couple of weeks.

Over lunch, I have a chance to reflect and enjoy a real sense of pride on what this company has achieved over the past 10 years. As birthdays go, this one has been pretty special. 

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