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2020 has been an education for all of us. So as we approach the end of a year like no other, we’re asking media and marketing luminaries to share with us their biggest work lessons of the last 12 months. Here, Quiet Storm’s Rania Robinson talks about holding her nerve as a leader. 

The first lesson I learned this year was to keep it lean.

At the end of 2019, we reappraised our business model and restructured. Now we’re operating a far leaner model.

Inspired by our production heritage, we retain a core group of people and then bring in specific talent based on the task. This means we’re not carrying unnecessary fixed overhead, enabling us to be nimble, agile and adaptable. That set us in good stead for the uncertainty of 2020.

In a market that was already so changeable, we took out unnecessary layers of management, giving people room to step up, take ownership and grow. At the same time we have been allowing senior management to be more hands-on – so getting to do more of what they love and giving our clients highly experienced individuals working directly on their business.

Another learning from 2020 is that you need to stick to your values.

Considering what’s gone on this year, it would’ve been really tempting to keep our heads down, cut down investments and just focus on getting by, with no extra-curricular or pro-bono work.

But we’ve always supported things we care about and with the murder of George Floyd and the continuing inequalities and lack of diversity in this industry, it felt like the right time to revive our ’Create Not Hate’ initiative.

While we didn’t relaunch it with a view to new business, it has led to a number of opportunities that we couldn’t have anticipated. So staying true to your values pays off. Invest in your brand, your people and good things, because it will pay back. Particularly during challenging times when it’s even more important to stand out.

Similarly, doing highly impactful creative work that connects on an emotional level and challenges the status quo has never been more important. When budgets are limited or stretched, having work that delivers exponentially against media spend is critical.

My final takeaway is to hold your nerve as a business leader.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I think it’s fair to say that adland was expecting Armageddon. The uncertainty meant that in the earlier Covid months we were having to warn staff about cuts, but we didn’t make any rash decisions.

Thankfully, we had a better year than expected. I know that’s not the case for everyone and it has a lot to do with factors outside of our control, but we could’ve made some hasty decisions early in the year. I’m really glad we didn’t. We held our nerve and haven’t had to lay anyone off or cut salaries.

So take your time and avoid making big decisions when emotionally charged in the heat of the moment.