My Way: 'Was I conning the world and getting away with it?'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

David Kershaw is a founding director of the international advertising agency M&C Saatchi. He sits on the board of Creative & Cultural Skills, the Sector Skills Council for the creative industries.

What did you want to be as a child?

I wanted to play for Arsenal.

What did you realistically think you'd end up doing?

At secondary school, I was going to become a clarinettist, but again I didn't have enough talent. So I studied politics at Durham University.

Was it worth it?

It really improved my brain. I went to the careers office and said I'd like to go into business, but nothing that was too serious. The adviser said: "Ah, that would be advertising, then." So I applied to all the graduate schemes and got a position with Wasey Campbell-Ewald.

What was the best and worst part about it?

The best was being involved in new business pitches; the worst was preparing for a pitch at 5am.

You did an MBA at London Business School; why?

Three years into the job, I wasn't learning to use my head well enough. In the late Seventies, training meant you were just thrown at a photocopier. I really enjoyed the MBA and learnt about business. In the second year I went to New York and was headhunted by Saatchi & Saatchi.

Why you?

I had a reasonable reputation. Advertising is a small world; if you get good work out for clients and have their trust, people get to know you.

Do you consider yourself successful?

Yeah, I guess so, within the advertising world. It's an achievement just to have survived to my ripe old age.

When did you first realise you were a success?

The day I was made managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi London. But I was afraid of being found out. In my late twenties, I told my father I was worried I was conning the world. He said: "Well, everyone's doing that."

What's the best decision you've made?

To leave Saatchi & Saatchi and set up M&C Saatchi. I had to give up the comfortable corporate life, and I thought long and hard about it.

What are your interview tips?

I'm impressed by people who do their homework, who are bright and engaging. I'm also swayed by how I feel after spending five minutes in a room with them. Creative people can have three heads and it doesn't matter, but with people on the business side you have to think: would I like this person in my office?

And your CV tips?

It should be bullet-pointed, simple, with a lot of spaces.

What motivates you?

Fear of failure. It's a dominant motivation among a lot of my business friends. It's sad, really.

Who are your heroes?

Arsène Wenger.

How do I get to be where you are?

On the business side you need to be a graduate, although you don't need to have specialised in media or advertising.

What's the best perk of your job?

Being paid to lunch with really interesting people. How good is that?

Comments