My Mentor: Paul Simons on Dominic Cadbury

'He listened to my idea, agreed and simply asked me to make it happen'

Lady luck, played a considerable role in my fledgling marketing career, but I owe even more to Dominic Cadbury, the scion of the chocolate dynasty. I started in brand management at Cadbury-Schweppes some 18 months after completing an MBA course at Lancaster University. I was in my early 20s and it was the '70s - a brave new world of tremendous creativity and boldness at Cadbury as a great deal of talented people set out on their careers. We were breaking from the traditional old-school mode of marketing - like Google, PlayStation and eBay are doing today.

As a young manager I was lucky enough to get 'face time' with Dominic, who had joined as Marketing Director shortly after I started. His approach, intellect, good humour and professionalism has left an indelible mark on me.

Dominic's biggest influence was the personal support he gave for a big idea I'd cooked up. I'd worked out if I could bundle together certain products we could achieve substantial incremental distribution leading to a massive increase in sales.

Aged only 23, I was asked to go to his office on my own to explain my idea, quietly terrified I was going to make an idiot out of myself. To my great relief he patiently listened, agreed and simply asked me to make it happen ...

Some months later, a national TV campaign broke, the sales force achieved almost perfect distribution and the company added millions of incremental sales.

Dominic went on to become CEO of the company and was later awarded a knighthood. I became client services director at the advertising agency Gold Greenlees Trott (GGT), which we turned into one of the largest independent agencies in the UK. I am happy to say we became Cadbury's lead agency for a great stretch of time, for which I have to thank a mixture of luck, open-mindedness and sound judgement.

Paul Simons is head of the Cagney media agency

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