A Week in My Life: Stuart Lunn, Managing Director, Havas Media Manchester

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

Stuart Lunn leads the team at Havas Media Manchester - having joined the agency in the role of MD last September.

Lunn has experience working at Manchester Airports Group, Google, Facebook and more, and has helped Havas strengthen its regional offering, creating impressive campaigns including for BBC's Dracula series.

Here's a typical week in his working life...

 

Monday

It’s 4am, and I’m awake and ready for another busy week. No, I’m not Gordon Gekko (apologies if you’re too young to know the name), I’ve been woken by our two-year-old daughter, Beatrice, who is yet to find the joy in sleep. I also lied about being ready; it’s 4am, of course I’m not ready.

During lockdown I’ve tended to work from home on a Monday. I’ve found it helps me get everything in place for the week. I catch up with the rest of the Havas Media Group leadership (SLT) team, with the obligatory chats around football, facemasks and further lockdowns. We also talk about work, of course, and review what has been a very busy week across two of our larger clients.

I’m extremely lucky to have an assistant, Tonya, who manages my diary, and basically keeps me on top of a fairly wide range of commitments; from client calls and staff development, through to making sure I’ve got time for the school run twice a week as well. So Monday is also the day where I’ll check in with her to make sure I’m up to speed on any changes I might have missed.

I spend the afternoon working through a variety of client requests, mainly for a point of view on the recent Digital Services Tax news. I finish the day with a creative review session, in what was a fairly typical start to my week.

Tuesday

Tuesday is my busiest day in terms of Zoom and Teams calls. We have the Havas group level SLT meeting, followed by the media SLT, and then client calls for the rest of the day. For the avoidance of doubt, the day begins just like Monday - thanks, Beatrice.

These types of meetings could, on the face of it, risk being repetitive or inefficient. However, I rarely find that the case here; we discuss our ongoing commitment to equality and diversity - as well as covering off a range of pitch commitments.

While the market isn’t as buoyant as it was before the pandemic, we're seeing a slow return of brands reviewing their agency requirements. We are leading a couple of the opportunities from Manchester, so I spend the time between calls ensuring our pitch process is on-track. I’m lucky to have such a talented team to work with and, of course, it’s not only on track but looks great.

I get home to be greeted by the demands of my other two daughters, aged four and six, around the acquisition of conkers. I don’t know if "an elephant never forgets", but I can say with certainty that kids remember everything you say you’ll do with them. We get just over 100 and, no, I will never reveal the rarely visited location!

Wednesday

Big day today. We have a new CEO, Paddy Affleck, who joined a few weeks ago. Today I take him through the performance of the agency since I joined. It’s a year to the day, and it’s seen us deliver some incredible work; successfully defending the BBC account, winning four new clients, and picking up a series of industry awards - particularly for work around Peaky Blinders and Dracula.

I believe we have the platform to really push the business forward and, thankfully, he agrees. It’s always difficult pulling together a business plan, so to have delivered on this one feels pretty good.

It also means I can take the rest of our SLT through the strategy, and I’m excited to see their reaction to our continued commitment to grow in the region.

Thursday

Completely focused on pitch work today. I love the process of challenging a brief; uncovering insights or a way of thinking that might have been missed. Our strategy team comes into its own on tasks like these.

I still believe in the craft of strategic planning and, when combined with data, it creates really compelling work. It’s a shame I can’t be more expansive about the particulars (for obvious reasons!) but it’s a day that reinforces my view on this.

I do think there’s an argument that some client/agency relationships have become too focused on outputs, rather than outcomes. The work we did today is rooted in our approach, driven by outcomes instead, and the final piece is brilliant. It’s thought-provoking, it’s clever, and above all else, it can deliver the end state the client wants. 

Friday

I have some regular client calls today - covering off some new ways of working. I’ve found COVID-19 fascinating in the way it has challenged some companies to think about this. For me, I’ve always embraced remote working - and we have a flexible culture, where we want people to feel they’re balancing home requirements too.

I don’t think complete remote working will hit our industry just yet, as there’s so much to be gained in terms of people development and ideation in the office environment. However, I do think we’ll see the office used more specifically for those reasons than a lot of the ‘business as usual’ tasks.

I just about manage to clear my ‘to do’ list before an email drops in about a new pitch. By the time the weekend comes around I’m a mixture of things; happy with the past year’s efforts, excited for the future, knackered in the now (mainly Beatrice, again).

I have a brief chat with various team members, just to check everything is OK before the weekend. Then it’s great to have some time with my wife, Alex - and our girls.