Tencil Talks: Nik Gill

Nik Gill is a Global Business Director at Mindshare.

Mindshare is a global media and marketing services company created in 1997. As one of the world’s largest media agencies, Mindshare is responsible for a large majority of GroupM/WPP’s global marketing billings and campaigns.

Nik has 12+ years of media experience, servicing major brands such as IHG, Wimbledon, Diageo & Portakabin; providing media investment solutions tailored towards delivering on key client business objectives.

Today we caught up with him on all things digital…

Q. Talk us through your career success to date?

NG: I actually started my career back in 2007 with a gap year designed to travel the world and on occasion, carry out internships in marketing and advertising.  Prior to traveling through India and parts of South America, my best experience was a temp role at JWT World.  One day I was given £2,000 in a brown envelope to procure the most random items for a global pitch the next day.  Sad to say this was way before Amazon Prime, so it ended up in a crazy taxi ride across the most remote parts of London!  I got the job done though with around £350 to spare.  It was definitely the largest taxi bill I have ever racked up but have always been a fan of funding local business! That’s where it started, thinking on my feet.  Media is very much the same. 

On arriving back into the country, I worked a couple of years at Billetts in their digital marketing consultancy.  This is where I built a solid foundation in best practice in all aspects of digital marketing, which I am thankful for, though I always wanted ultimately to join a media agency.  Some of the friends I met there, I will know for the rest of my life.  There’s something about starting a career together that will do that.  Then in 2010, I joined Mindshare and didn’t look back. 

At Mindshare I have had the privilege of working with some of the largest companies in the world.  I have actually worked with IHG as a client since 2011, in an industry where it is rare to work with the same brand or in fact at the same agency for a prolonged period of time.  I have risen from the junior levels to now a much more senior role which I think is important so that other new entrants joining the agency can see there is a legitimate path to success by being committed to what they are doing.  Each year seems to go quicker than the last though and am proud to say that I started out in digital media but am now knowledgeable across all.  This is key to my role as a Global Business Director where we are in the business of finding the right solution for the client, whichever the media channel maybe.

I should probably have moved agency side slightly earlier.  My advice to anyone is that if you know what you want to do, make the move as quick as you can and get on the right path.  You will spend most of your life working, so make sure it’s something you bounce out of bed wanting to do. 

Q. How did your time at Warwick University prepare you for your career?

NG: I studied Physics with Business at the Warwick Business School and was lucky enough to meet some great people that have gone on to have tremendous success in their lives, all across the world.  One of them has even started a hotel chain in India, a massive achievement from someone that originally hails from Newcastle and is not in fact Indian.  I digress…

I think the combination of Physics and Business, requiring a strong mathematical mind but also a creative one for areas such as marketing placed me in a good position to succeed as media itself is a very “all round” business.  It requires creativity, analytics and a great deal of common sense.  During my time at Warwick my friends created a magazine that I helped advertise and sell out its inaugural issue.  That was probably the first time I thought this was an industry I wanted to work in longer term.  Media itself though was not discussed at university as it isn’t for some reason as highly visible as traditional marketing / advertising.  However, having experienced both worlds, media for me has been far more rewarding. You are essentially involved in all aspects of your clients’ marketing and far more involved and invested in their business outcomes.

Q. You are an experienced media man, what still excites you about digital marketing?

NG: As a sports captain, I will use a sports analogy here.  The best thing about sport is that it is dynamic and a match you experience one day will never the same next time around.  Other channels, and I say this as fully integrated multimedia planner, require less involvement and are far more predictable; hence much more straight forward to work in. 

I remember my first digital campaign going live and checking every hour to see the results.  I see the same excitement with the account executives / managers in my team today.  It’s so tangible you want to know that all the planning that you have put into the campaign has worked; and I don’t think that ever changes.  We’re here to drive business outcomes for our clients and are lucky enough to work with some great brands that work on exciting projects.  The AELTC as a client particular excites me at the moment. 

Q. What would you like to see change in digital marketing?

NG: Regulation.   Digital is an industry-driven by major companies that have historically got away with what they wanted because no one was in a position to question what they were doing.  We as an industry have a responsibility to consumers and social media is one of the channels where the impacts to society can be harmful if not actively monitored by a regulatory body.  I would advise anyone getting into the industry to read about the effects of dopamine hits on human beings.  Marketing itself is an ethically neutral business, however it is the people like us that can ensure it is seen as a positive practice rather than a negative one.

Q. Do you think enough material exists to educate young adults about digital marketing?

NG: In the case of educating people that digital marketing exists, I don’t think that enough exists vs. the more traditional advertising/marketing outlets.  However, if you mean in terms of education once in the industry, when I started out there was very little even on accredited marketing courses that I went on– where digital was often covered in a single afternoon. 

It has since moved on much more I would say.  I think Circus Street in particular has really brought things on.  Although it is designed for beginners, I took the whole course two years ago to see how in-depth it was for my team, and it would be a solid foundation for anyone starting out.  Digital marketing, with so many tools and platforms, is a subject you really need to “learn as you go though” in my experience.  Generally, you want to make sure that the team you work in is set up with the right people to coach you to where you need to go in your career.

Q. (Funny) What is your favourite lunchtime spot and why?

NG: For me, if I could find the time and my friends were free, we’d hit Aqua Rooftop, overlooking central London. It’s a great spot to catch up with friends in the sun and then head back to the office … if not one of our early Friday Summer afternoon finishes that is!   Though I have bumped into will.i.am and Liam Gallagher at Nobu once, unforgettable but can really hit your bank balance if you attend too often.  That failing, we at Mindshare are lucky to have an 8th-floor roof terrace with a stunning, yet often unappreciated view… as ten years in the same office will do that.  We’re very lucky in that respect.

Finally, we would like to thank Nik for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with us today.

If you are interested in hearing about opportunities that exist in Digital Marketing, feel free to email Joel.Williams@tencil.co.uk

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