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What I’ve Learnt: Alex Uprichard, Managing Director, IMA-HOME

Alex IMA-HOME

Alex Uprichard is managing director at IMA-HOME and IPA city head for Leeds, Yorkshire and Humberside.

Her 24 years of industry experience spans media planning and buying, media owner sales, running and selling her own digital business and running a large-scale, full-service ad agency. ​ 

She is passionate about the power of regional agencies, the pursuit of better inclusion and diversity in ad land and developing a truly integrated agency model for full-service capability. 

From her luckiest break to her best failure, she shares all the lessons she’s learnt across her life and career.

Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

Starting the day with at least two cups of the strongest Yorkshire Tea it is possible to make.

What’s been your luckiest break?

I am a firm believer that you make your own luck, but being offered the role at IMA back in 2019 was a break I am so grateful for. It was at a time when I thought the agency world was no longer open to me, which I struggled with as I always felt like an agency person at my core.

It has brought so many amazing people into my life, and I am really proud of what we’ve all achieved together. Obviously being appointed MD after three years at the agency was the icing on the cake.

What’s your best failure?

Dropping out of university. I pushed myself hard at school, but chose the wrong uni course and really didn’t enjoy it, leaving in my first year. I planned to change my course and re-apply the following year. In the meantime, I applied for a job I saw in the Manchester Evening News for a ‘trainee TV buyer’- largely because it had the word TV in it!

I turned up at McCann Manchester and instantly loved the industry. Needless to say, I ditched the idea of full-time uni. But I did do things the tough way by working full time whilst doing my degree at evening classes – I was very conscious of being the only non-graduate in media. The industry has moved on a lot since then and we are working hard to make IMA-HOME as accessible as possible, which I am really pleased about.

What is the best investment you’ve ever made, either financial or time?

Mums in the Know – an online/social community I formed with my best friend Dawn when our children were young. It was an amazing journey; we spent all day coming up with ideas whilst the children played together and eventually turned it into a really successful business which we went on to sell. By investing our time, we created jobs for ourselves when flexible working was not really an option offered by agencies. We genuinely made something that worked for us from nothing.

Which podcast or book would you recommend others to read and why?

I am a bit of a true crime fan and I like to make the tenuous link that this is because in our roles with clients it is really important that we are curious minded. Two of my favourites over recent years have been The Teacher’s Pet and Shandee’s Story by the amazing Hadley Thomas. They resulted in positive action on cases which had been swept under the carpet. I also like a listen to the Daily Jay on the Calm app for a dose of mindfulness when I can.

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

You’re going to have an amazing 25 years coming up, so chin up, calm down and enjoy it!

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

I don’t think I could boil this down to one thing as so many developments have happened across my career. When I started, salehouses used fax machines to send us our TV schedules, we were just starting to use email, we didn’t have Google! The advances are incredible, with Teams revolutionising how connected we all are and the amazing benefits we’re realising through AI.

I have two amazing mentors in my Chief Exec Partners, Nickii and James, who are massive influences on me. I would also say my husband has really taught me not to sweat the small stuff – he is my calming rock and enables me to fly around all over the place doing what I do!

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I used to be an extra in Hollyoaks.

If there was one thing you could change about your career, what would it be and why?

I truly believe I have ended up where I was meant to be, so I wouldn’t change anything other than the fact that I always hankered for some time working in New York. Given we have an office over there, I think it could still happen for me though…

What does success look like to you?

Happy healthy family, engaging exciting work and a great memory making holiday every year. If I lie back on that sun lounger feeling I’ve done my best and deserve my break, I’m content.

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