Subscribe to the daily newsletter.

What I’ve Learnt: Phil Cookson, Director, Creative Resource


Phil Cookson has worked at creative and marketing recruitment agency Creative Resource for 18 years.

The company is at the forefront of recruiting for the creative and marketing sector, working with agencies, brands and organisations to source talent.

Cookson is a Director at Creative Resource, but he is also a proud co-founder of the Leeds programme School of Thought as well as a public speaker on mental health.

We found out what lessons he’s learnt.


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

Taking the dog for a walk. My dog Oscar, who is a five-year-old Cockapoo, is a big part of my life and getting out every day on a walk really clears my mind and helps to keep me relaxed.

What’s been your luckiest break?

Getting my break into recruitment for the creative and marketing sector 18 years ago. I was lucky to find a sector and people I’m passionate about working with and make every day so interesting and varied. It’s such a satisfying career, making a difference to people’s lives every day.

What’s your best failure?

I’m not sure I can pick one moment of failure out but with School of Thought it has been a constant learning process. Each time we run a programme in Manchester or Leeds there are things that go well and things that could be improved. I’m constantly evaluating how to make the programme better and better for the participants, such as utilising Zoom for the Monday evening sessions, cutting down on participants travel by 50 percent.

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

I did a university exchange in my 2nd year to the US, I studied at a medium sized college just outside Boston where I studied History with a specialism in American History. It was a real eye-opener, it helped me to grow up hugely and I came back for my final year focused and determined, my grades improved, and I entered the world of work after graduating with so much more confidence. I’d recommend anyone with the opportunity to go and work or study abroad, grab it with both hands.

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

The book I’ve read most recently that impacted on me was Grief Interrupted by Simon Thomas, a moving account of how his future disappeared in an instant, and how he had to find a way to carry on.

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

Don’t work too hard, life isn’t all about professional success, it’s much more important to enjoy life and experience personal success.

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

The founder of Creative Resource, Steve Ollerton. He gave me an opportunity 18 years ago and invested a huge amount of time in my development. He was always supportive and helpful, and gave me lots of confidence and I still base my working style around the things he taught me, and often think when faced with a challenging work situation, ‘what would Steve do?’ I’ll forever be grateful.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I’m a widower and a vocal, public speaker on grief and men’s mental health. This led me to take on a challenge in February in memory of my wife and to raise funds for a local cancer support charity. Myself and Oscar walked the length of Hadrians Wall – 91 miles in 5 days in some truly awful weather, it really tested my resilience to keep going, but its something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?

I think its accelerated hybrid working by years, I think it would have taken us several decades to get to this level of flexibility offered now by the majority of employers. The flexibility and hybrid working now offered are allowing people to achieve a better work/life balance which is hugely positive. Also, it is helping to retain talent that needed more flexibility than was offered pre-Covid.

What does success look like to you?

Making people happy, both internally and externally, is my definition of success and if I reach a Friday evening feeling I’ve done that then I’m happy.

Related News

Related Jobs

Client Manager


PR Executive

Rhodes Media

Communications Lead