Why a magic catherine wheel is responsible for our ongoing success

Alastair Turner, Global CEO

In lockdown my kids had to do a news item on Icarus. Twin boys. Two separate reports filmed with the help of their sister and edited by me (never again). It led to interesting discussions about pride, modesty and humbleness.

Our lockdown lesson concluded with us all realising we had a lot of phrases for Icarus’s predicament.

We all know that Icarus…got a bit carried away…became pleased with himself and that…pride comes before the fall.

How many CEOs of major companies haven’t learned that lesson? One minute they are profiled in glossy magazines, resplendent in lycra pounding the streets or hitting the gym, espousing a daily schedule which starts off with getting up before they’ve gone to bed and then gets properly busy from there. Then shortly afterwards they end up with…well…egg on their face?

Perhaps it’s a peculiarly British trait to not want to talk the talk but rather let our actions speak for us. It’s definitely those actions that should instil pride, not some apprentice-style boastfulness built on weak foundations. At Aspectus we have always been proud of three interconnected things: our people, the work they do and the culture they nurture.

Those are the things that we have concentrated on year after year. And since we entered the PR week Top 150 in 2012 at 118, that’s what we have kept our head down doing. Of course, over the years our people, clients, culture and mantra has evolved…today we talk about bringing a combination of intelligent insight, global expertise and excellent execution together to deliver client success, all of which is underpinned by considered creativity and delivered by empowered talent.

And I think that is the key. Our philosophy has always been about empowering our talent. How? By aiming to create a virtuous circle between our people, our purpose and our commercial success. Each element reliant on the next. Each one acting as a catalyst for the others.

That magic, ever accelerating, Catherine wheel has, 10 years on, led us into the PR Week Top 50 and put us in pole position as the UK’s largest B2B agency. We are incredibly proud of that achievement but also modest and humble about it. We are excited to be in an industry that is constantly evolving and realise that there are many brilliant agencies doing amazing, innovative things. We also know that that sustained growth, while great fun, is really hard work.

However, the wonderful thing about the culture our people own is that it’s a proper team effort, ‘as flat as an IKEA flat pack’, and that as individuals and as a business, while we want to soar, we don’t ever get too close to the sun. But we will keep repeating our mantra, keep working on that special equation and see what it adds up to. We now do that with quiet confidence and real resolve…while we have always walked the walk, we can now quietly talk the talk.

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