Luke D’Arcy, European Head of marketing firm Momentum, sat downto discuss the company, the industry and the challenges faced by modern day employment.
You’re now the head of the European Branch of Momentum, you joined in 2003, by 2014 you were the Chief Marketing Officer, and now you’re the head of the European branch altogether? That’s an impressive climb. You said that when you were in university you wanted to be a journalist. To those who are now at university and are looking at your career path and thinking that they can’t achieve the same, what would you say to them?
“I would honestly say nothing is impossible and I think also in this day and age, perhaps compared to when I started out, things can happen much faster. Even in my business now I’ve just made a guy the global lead on our Microsoft business and he’s in his early thirties. I think if you’re good enough you’re old enough. Yes, you have to learn the ropes, but I think that your career trajectory can be accelerated in a way that has never been possible before.”
Obviously, we are both white males, do you think it is harder for minority groups and women or disadvantaged groups? Do you think companies are tackling this now and making the workplace more accessible?
“Yes, diversity and inclusion are two of the biggest buzzwords certainly in our industry and across businesses as a whole. Momentum is part of InterPublic group, which is a publicly traded company and it has shareholders who hold us accountable. They expect not just our shareholders, but also our clients to have very clear diversity and inclusion initiatives going on. The advertising and marketing industry have woken up to the fact that it has been very white, male, middle-class dominated industry.
“Maybe that’s due to that demographic being attracted to that industry, but it’s certainly true that we make strenuous effort to, one: appeal to people from different corners and sections of society but also things as simple as the interview process. You’d be amazed at the number of people who hire people who are like-minded and who seem very similar, which is why we also do things like blind CV selection as well. You take the names off, take the sexes off and then see how good people are and then there’s nothing that’s giving you a predisposition in any way shape or form. But we absolutely have a massive responsibility to address it, and it’s something that can only make the business and creative industry better.”
BMW, MINI and KRAFT are just three of your clients, but they are huge names, do you think convincing them to choose and work with you requires the same skillset as when you are at a much smaller marketing firm trying to attract smaller businesses?
“Yes, I think there are very few people who will just start working on huge international blue-chip brands, and all of the skills you learn all through the different levels of your career will set you on a path to having a richer, more informed career later on in life. So no, I didn’t start out working on large multinational corporation brands. I think when you’re working at a smaller agency or the university communication is key. Whether you’re talking to the CMO of Lamborghini, BMW or something like that, or whether you’re talking to somebody who runs and manages a bar, it’s about communication skills. So, the biggest thing I think is to learn, not only how to communicate, but to learn how to question, learn how to listen, and actually those skills are invaluable, and they will put you on the right path. If you’re inquisitive and ask the right questions, that will give you a great range of transferable skills for whatever level of an organisation you are.”
One last question which obviously we couldn’t resist asking you in this Nouse interview, you worked at a student newspaper when you were a student: did student newspaper and student media help you do you think?
“Yes; unequivocally yes. Make sure that you get involved in your university in any way shape or form you can. For me, my passion was sports and journalism, so obviously for me it made sense to go in and try and edit the sports section of the newspaper. It also meant that when you move onto another firm, they are able to tell for sure that your written communication skills as well as your verbal communication skills are excellent – hopefully. Throw yourself wholeheartedly into a university like York. It will be useful for the outside world.”
With special thanks to the University of York careers fair which made this interview possible