My Mentor: Rosie Arnold On John Hegarty

'He was really accommodating, but he has got a steely side to him too'

I was still an art student in the early 1980s when I heard that Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) had some freelance work. I'd heard John was this leading creative who had branched off from TBWA on his own, but I didn't know much about him.

All my work was up in a student exhibition so I spent all night redrawing my book. I was very nervous when I went to see him but he was so relaxed and friendly I remember thinking I would really love to work for someone like him. I worked the weekend and then worked in my holidays and he offered me a job. I was a few months off getting my degree and I said, "Would you mind if I carried on getting my degree?" and they said, "No." He was really accommodating, but he has got a steely side to him too which I think is what makes him so good.

There were about 11 people when I started at BBH and I've never been anywhere else. I remember doing one very simple ad which he loved, and it became clear that he liked the way I thought, and that I thought very like him. The thing that really put him up there for me were two Levi's films very early in my career. The first was the Russian Levi's film where a guy is trying to smuggle some Levi's and the second was Launderette. That film was revolutionary for Levi's and for advertising.

He's a hard taskmaster and he will constantly challenge you on every level. I've learnt from him how to push myself to get the best. Sometimes you accept your first thoughts on something but that's not always good enough, and you have to push yourself beyond that.

I've also learnt so much from him as a creative director. If you go into John's office with a load of ideas and he rejects every single one of them, he still makes you walk out of the office full of enthusiasm. He's enormously popular because he's such a fun, nice person and bright as a button. He's why BBH is so good.

Rosie Arnold is managing director of BBH

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