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11am, Tuesday 26th January 2021

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BAPTISM OF FIRE: What I Learned from Taking the Reins During a Global Pandemic

  • What’s it like to TAKE OVER as leader of an agency?
  • How can you turn-around an agency’s culture?
  • What are some ways to simplify your structure and squeeze more out of your agency’s operations?

When the pandemic hit in March, Jake Third was one of four directors at Hallam, who had equally shared responsibilities. Now, he’s their managing director.

“We had a collaborative leadership model in place” says Jake. “That works well until you get into a crisis situation. We decided one person needed to take the reins.”

Jake got to work immediately. He cut costs, spoke with clients and formulated a plan for remote working. Within a month, he was appointed as MD.

“For the first two or three months, it was a very intense experience. I was running on adrenaline.

Turning around a culture

From the beginning, Jake was adamant he wanted to concentrate on team wellbeing and motivation, especially due to remote working.

“I did a number of things which demonstrated we are people-first. We tried to minimise job losses, and we went out of our way to set up wellbeing initiatives,” he explains.

“We needed to take a culture that was probably negative, and in a relatively short period of time win people over and get them focused.”

Jake launched a program called Thrive – taking elements of human flourishing (learning, meaning, innovation) and embedding them into the agency’s operational processes.

“Now that the team are so engaged, they’re willing to go the extra mile,” he says.

Fewer, bigger clients

Jake also moved to a ‘fewer, bigger clients’ model.

“We were wondering why our profit margins weren’t that high. It was the sheer level of inefficiency in the system from managing so many component parts,” he explains.

“We reengineered our client base, selecting clients based on values and profitability. From a financial efficiency, but also team wellbeing point of view, has been critical.”

In this session, Jake will talk about changing leadership styles, reenergising and refocusing his team, and changing his agency’s approach to benefit both financial and wellbeing efficiency – all in the middle a global health crisis.