In the practical old world of job hunting, there is one thing that everyone has in common, a glimmer. Some people have a big glimmer, some people have a teeny weenie glimmer, others have a glimmer that lives deep in the bottom of their pocket never to see the light of day.
These glimmers are ideals of something we want to do or someone we want to be. It may be something utterly unreachable, impractical or unbelievable. It may be something pay-the-bills-practical, complete with pension plan and people carrier. It may simply be a dream to run off with the circus.
Nevertheless, these glimmers are what shape us and ultimately can transform the 9-5 into something far more exciting and fulfilling.
The glimmer chasers
In this series of interviews, we speak to inspirational individuals from different industries who have reached the top of their profession. Despite following completely different career paths these people all have two things in common; they all had to start at the bottom, and they all took their glimmers and ran with them.
Trevor Beattie, founder of advertising agency, Beattie McGuinness Bungay is responsible for numerous successful, high profile advertising campaigns including FCUK, Wonderbra, PlayStation and The Labour Party to name but a few.
He was the producer of BAFTA winning movie Moon in 2009, and he is also the originator of most of the bonkers yet brilliant ideas that you wish you had come up with yourself.
We asked Trevor the following questions:
What made you decide to follow this career path?
I was fascinated by the TV ads as a child. Never imagined it could become a career.
What qualifications did you take that were relevant to this position and did you find that they helped set you above the other candidates for this role?
I’m strictly unqualified for a job in advertising, other than via my love of it. I did A Levels in Art, Design and English. And a Degree in Graphic Design. At a place called a Polytechnic. In Wolverhampton.
I’m not sure those qualifications set me above anyone else.
What is the most important character trait/skill for this role?
Most important trait for a role in advertising is three-fold: enthusiasm/an inexhaustable supply of ideas and boundless optimism.
How did you get your foot in the door?
The door was squeezed ajar by my college lecturer/mentor (and friend to this day), Mr John Lowe. He believed in me. He still does. That’s pretty much all the support I needed. Can’t say I kicked the door in, but they were going to have to amputate my toes to ever shut that door again.
How did you set yourself apart from the competition?
I was on a “Creative Scholarship” Grad-training of sorts. And I like to think I’m still on it. I set myself apart by recognising and celebrating the fact that I was very much a stranger in a strange land: A working class lad from Birmingham with a chip on both shoulders and a burning impatience, in a cool, slow, middle-class profession. I wallowed in my Otherness. Still do, to a degree.
How long from first being hired in the industry did it take to climb up to the position you are now in?
It hasn’t been a “climb” at all. I’ve spent 2 decades having a whole heap of fun. And I have no idea what position I’m now in. Maybe contentedly prone.
What does an average day in your current position entail?
No 2 days are the same. The general background of unpredictable bonkersness is permanent. The subject matter shifts according to which clients require attention.
What is the best thing about your job?
Advertising has made me a potted expert on a huge range of different subjects. Each client schools me in the importance and relevence of their brand. I can talk for hours on anything from ant powder and bra manufacturing to Yorkshire Tea and zoo maintenance.
Do you regularly work weekends/late nights?
I’ve never ever put a dividing line between work and other life. It’s all just stuff that I do. This used to be a deeply unfashionable, un-pc stance. It has recently become the way of the world. There is no OFF. For me, there never was.
What was the highlight of your career?
Probably a dead-heat between 17 very different things and experiences…
Meeting and working with Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Buzz Aldrin, Prince and David Bowie. (Simply wouldn’t have happened had I chosen a career in plumbing.)
Playing a part in the Election of New Labour.
Watching the impact of transforming a quiet, unassuming fashion brand into FCUK. (You can still see the ripples if you look closely.)
The glorious fun and excitement of working at TBWA.
The wild ride of setting up BMB, and having to pitch for our dinner every day.
The lovely people I’ve met and still meet on the way.
The superhuman enthusiasm of everyone.
The fact that advertising has been a vehicle which will ultimately fly me to Space. The only thing I’ve ever really honestly wanted to do.
What was your career low point? How did you bounce back from it?
My low point was being made redundant. It broke my heart. I was ordered in no uncertain terms to bounce back by my former school mates in Birmingham. They told me I’d been the source of all their drinking stories and that I had to go back and create some more. So I did. With gusto.
Have you sacrificed anything to reach this position and was it worth it?
I’ve sacrificed nothing.
Looking back, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I never look back.
What 3 pieces of advice would you give to anyone setting out in this industry?
1. Find out who you are as fast as possible.
2. Express that person through everything that you do. You are You. It’s the one thing that no-one else can be.
3. Never give up.
4. Don’t be told how many pieces of advice you’re allowed to give.