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A Week In My Life: Nicky Unsworth, CEO of BJL


In the latest in our regular new feature, Nicky Unsworth, CEO of BJL, runs through a week in her working life. To suggest a senior media or creative figure for A Week In My Life, email

Sunday 25th September

This week sees me heading to San Francisco for a meeting with my Tribe Global colleagues – a group of independent advertising and marketing agencies.

I head stateside via Dublin and arrive a day early. To beat the jetlag and make the most of some rare free time, I hire a bike and cycle round the city; heading through the parks over the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito, before taking the ferry back.

Looking up at the clear blue skies and city skyline – and the shimmering ocean backdrop – I can’t think of a more inspiring place to be.

The conference starts tonight with a board dinner.

A Week In My Life: Rob Shaw, CEO UK & Australia, JaywingMonday 26th September

Today has been a rewarding one, spent catching up with friends from Tribe Global agencies. They’ve arrived from Tel Aviv, Minneapolis, Toronto, Montréal, Strasburg, New York, Portland, Luxembourg, Dubai, Florida, California, Milan, Turin, Dusseldorf, São Paulo, Amsterdam, Shanghai and others.

We spend the day sharing experiences and campaigns; stepping outside our own markets to learn from others.

Tuesday 27th September

I’m still not entirely over my jetlag and wake early. I head to a 6am yoga session in downtown San Francisco – a lovely start to the day.

At 9am I join the rest of the group to hear a presentation from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce before a series of workshops looking at issues such as collaborative working and new Agency Models. Dinner is at McCormicks & Kuletos overlooking the water

Wednesday 28th September

We spend the day visiting and learning from businesses in and around the Bay Area and Silicon Valley including Airbnb, Mozilla and Bloom Energy.

I first came to Airbnb five years ago when they were relatively small. At that time the senior team were still trying to work out where the brand could take them. Since then they have enjoyed meteoric growth, trebling in size in the last two years alone.

It was great to see the evolution. It feels like in the few years since my last visit, they have moved from being market disruptors to establishment figures.

Viewers watch paint dry for nearly 10,000 hours – thanks to BJL’s “disruptive” Ronseal ad for Channel 4Thursday 29th September

Another early yoga session and snatched breakfast before the day begins with a meeting with Tim Williams from Ignition. He helps agencies improve profitability and client relationships and the session prompts some lively debate. I’ve learnt lots and I’m looking forward to sharing with the BJL team when I get back!

Lunchtime is spent hopping onto the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport) to get across the water to Berkeley for a visit to Skydeck. Formed as a partnership between the Haas School of Business, the College of Engineering, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, SkyDeck incubates start-up businesses and provides expert advice.

It’s great to see these embryonic businesses being built. David Reimer – a former President of JWT who now specializes in storytelling – tells us how he helps them broadcast their brand aims through storytelling.

The day ends with another amazing dinner on a boat at Alameda Docks.

Friday 30th September

After a productive and fun trip, the week ends with final workshops, reflections on everything we have learnt and some looking ahead to the next year.

Having come this far, I intend to take a holiday and explore more of California, so evening sees me joining what feels like half of San Francisco to drive south towards Los Angeles.

A fitting end to a busy but genuinely inspiring week.

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