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What I’ve Learnt: Simon Andrews, Creative Director, ArmstrongB2B

Previously working at agencies such as gyro and Cheetham Bell, Simon Andrews joined ArmstrongB2B in 2019 as head of design.

In 2022, he was promoted to the role of creative director at the Chester-based B2B marketing agency.

Previously known as The Armstrong Partnership, the agency unveiled its new name in February alongside £5m in revenues.

Andrews shares all the lessons he’s learnt…

 

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

Walking our two rescue dogs. It gives me the space to think where there is calmness and stillness. My phone is full of notes from these walks; ideas and thought processes that have been born out of freedom from distraction. Ideas can come to mind anywhere, and mine is not always an ‘in work only’ kind of job. I like the randomness of these thoughts and then seeing where I can take them.

What’s been your luckiest break?

I couldn’t pinpoint one in particular, for me it’s the people I’ve worked with and been influenced by that have helped shape where I am today and how I approach my craft. Everywhere I’ve worked there have been characters that spout pearls of wisdom, as well as choice tales from the ‘good old days’ of advertising – some of which are very colourful! I try to find balance in my role, being both a mentor and a peer – someone that can help others see the opportunities in front of them and what’s needed to get them there. 

What’s your best failure?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I had a best failure, but I did have a close call at the d&ad awards many moons ago where I had been lucky enough to receive a nomination. It came to my category on the night in the big city, but there were no gongs given out in my section! You win some, you lose some! 

In the day-to-day there are a multitude of little failures, but I see them as things to get through in order  to get to the good stuff. There are always things that don’t work and ideas that peter out, but it’s the learnings from these which help you realise the solution.

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

Committing to screen-free time. Time away from screens is as much a key to this profession as being locked to them, in my opinion. I’m as guilty as anyone for getting the blinkers on trying to crack or craft an idea. Taking a break, even for five minutes, can give the perspective you need to see what is actually there in front of you. 

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

It shames me to admit it but I’m not much of a reader – pictures have always been my thing. Nick Hornby’s ‘High Fidelity’ has always stuck with me, his observations on life and his ability to balance between being witty and dealing with the more depressing side of life behind the façade made it such a compelling read. If you’re more of a visual person like me, you can’t go wrong with ‘A Smile in the Mind’ for design inspiration.

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

Don’t doubt yourself. Believe in your thought process and your ability. I tend to over analyse or overthink ideas, which can be a blessing but also a curse.

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

I would hate to pinpoint one person as there have been so many people who have acted as mentors throughout my career. My art teacher back in Northern Ireland encouraged the potential she saw, and my parents backed my choices rather than trying to steer me in a particular direction. In my professional career (as I’m getting on a bit!) there have been a series of creative directors who’ve pushed me on, challenged me and helped me immeasurably to get to where I am today. A constant is my wife who will always give me the confidence to believe in myself, something I‘ve struggled with over the years.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

My go to for this is that I’m a twin, my better half is a TV presenter in Northern Ireland for the BBC. A close second is that I once passed the ball to David Beckham in Manchester United training. I was spectating and he was training, but still…

How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?

Change will mean different things to different agencies, I hope it gives the industry the perspective to make changes for the better. At ArmstrongB2B, we made adjustments through Covid like everyone did; there was a solitary to it as we all adjusted to our work\life balance merging into one. The occasional ring of a Teams call in the office nowadays takes me right back there. The office environment, especially ours which has been created for us in the heart of Chester, gives a better connection amongst teams. It’s a space for collaboration and nurturing a collective community feel, which drifted away with the Teams call culture.

What does success look like to you?

It’s about producing great work that makes a meaningful difference for our clients and their end-users. I’d also like to think that as creative director, I can have a really positive impact and make a difference to those starting out or developing their careers.

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