Meet the Leaders – Joe Sheppard

Following the announcement of our global expansion plans, we’ve been inviting members of Elevate’s leadership team to answer five questions about themselves and the industry to help our clients get to know them.

Joe Sheppard, Managing Director of Elevate UK, joined the business at the beginning of this year and is playing a crucial role in growing our leading brand portfolio. He is also supporting existing clients with the safe return of their experiential and brand activations.

How will Elevate’s global expansion plans benefit clients on a local level?

Elevate’s global structure is what attracted me to the business in the first place. I’ve worked in the industry for years and know that many of our competitors talk about the ability to staff in Europe and further afield. However, the reality is that they find a partner to whom they can outsource the work, and their control level is erratic. Of course, the more reliable agencies will do what they can to keep things under control, but it’s not on the same level as one global agency with identical ethics and systems.

At Elevate, we regularly communicate between markets, sharing our expertise and building successful ways of working. I can work with clients who want to carry out multi-market campaigns because Elevate’s processes are so closely knitted together. Our level of control is unique, so our delivery is much better.

What do you think are the essential components of a successful activation/brand experience? 

Having a genuine relationship with our people is fundamental to our success. There’s a lot of excitement around some of the tech products we’re launching, but ultimately we’re a people-led business. My background is very much about relationships and the people management side of our business. Regardless of what amazing tech we build in, if we don’t have those genuine relationships in place, then everything else falls down. For example, a brand may invest a large share of its marketing budget into a one-day activation. If you place the wrong team on that project and they deliver it poorly, that could end in disaster.

We pride ourselves on being ‘people people’, and the pandemic has taught us many things around lack of contact and engagement. There’s been an enormous industry impact. We’re seeing many job positions being advertised, which is probably the opposite of what people thought would happen due to the furlough scheme and redundancies. As people weren’t offered opportunities to work in events over the last 18 months, they had to find another source of income. Therefore, the industry has lost some of its very best talent, and the challenge now is for us to create new relationships and reconnect with people as normal life returns.

What do you think needs to change in the industry right now? 

A lot is happening around diversity and inclusion at the moment. When you look at the UK as a whole, there’s lots of noise being made around this subject, but I don’t think we’ve seen much change yet. Our line of work is a little different as it’s a lot more reflective of the UK in terms of diversity, race, gender, sexuality etc. We offer work that’s personality led, and we can help our clients make fundamental changes in this area.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

When I was young, I worked at a butchers with a man we called ‘Big Ron’, and he told me: “never apologise”. Of course, it doesn’t feel right to say that, but it’s the one piece of advice that always sticks in my mind.

We’re essentially a supplier to our clients, and although we have stringent measures, tools, and training in place, people make mistakes from time to time. If you don’t have a strong relationship with your client, you’ll always spend your time apologising when in reality, you should be finding answers and solutions for them instead.

How do you like to prepare for the day ahead? 

I usually get woken up before six due to my children, and they have thousands of demands for me while I’m also trying to check Slack. I’ve come into the business at an incredibly busy time, but it’s always important to make time for family. If I didn’t, it would be damaging to my mental health. I have promised myself to never become the 24/7 email obsessive.

NEWS AND VIEWS

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