Managing the London and Australian offices is a juggling act for Dean Wilson, UK managing director and vice-president, international at global barter company Active International.
First off I drop my three children, Esme (11), Grace (six)
and Sam (four) to school and nursery, mediating any fights
en route. Then it’s to the office for a meeting with my PA,
Heather. We run over the upcoming week’s diary and she
nags me about missing receipts.
Since last September I’ve handled Active’s Australian office,
as well as the UK, which poses a new challenge - working
to two time-zones. I skip lunch and work at my desk until my
regular 4pm call with my boss, Frederick Fuest, who runs
the other global offices from Dusseldorf. It’s a round-robin
call - I update him on my regions and he gives me the group
point of view. After a fairly relaxed day, I’m home by 7pm. My
partner Kate organises a sado-masochistic boxing fitness
session. I head to bed early with only minor injuries.
Up at 5.30am to call our Australian office where the new
managing director, Tony Harradine, joined in December. I’ve
been in his shoes and it’s daunting. The Australian barter
industry is growing, with competitors rumoured to be
entering the market, so we’re doubling our team. Lunch is
with the director of a media buying agency, who is interested
in what we can offer. I spend much of my time demystifying
the barter industry for agencies and clients.
Head back to the office to meet our commercial director Matt
Shreeve, who joined from Channel 4, to discuss upcoming
client business. Back home I catch up with the HBO series
Pacific – I’m a bit of a military history buff!
It’s the first management meeting of the new year. As a small
team, everyone shares ideas and it’s easy to act on issues.
After reviewing our half-year results to Christmas (up 35%
year on year) we discuss the nuts and bolts of the business.
That afternoon I join our head of marketing to meet Bear,
our creative agency. It’s an opportunity to discuss upcoming
We’ll use Bear in Australia, leveraging on marketing collateral
created here. We spent a lot on our website, but elements
such as the voiceover will need adjusting. Back home in
Wandsworth Kate and I head to a favourite gastropub, The
Earl of Spencer, to celebrate Kate’s birthday.
It’s another ‘Australia Day’ so I’m up at 5.30am (somewhat
regretting last night’s extra pint) to phone Tony. We plan my
upcoming trip in March, during which I’ll cram in as many
agency meetings as possible. The Aussie ad industry is
much smaller than here. There’s less aggression, and
senior people are far more accessible; they don’t play
the ‘title game’. It’s a vibrant scene - if I was in my
early 20s, I’d be tempted to relocate, but leaving my
kids would be too much of a wrench. As it is, with
four trips a year, I have the best of both worlds.
fter lunch with our director of account management Lionel
Becker (a cheap and cheerful affair at Savoir Faire), it’s time
for a two-hour call to our New York head office. We’re
offering more global solutions than ever, so it’s important to
keep regular contact. The 11 managing directors meet
annually and relations are good, so any inter-office politics is
Head to town for a 9.30am catch-up with our PR agency,
Eulogy. All our marketing collateral is in place, so now it’s a
case of promoting both the barter industry and our position
Our US operations director Dave Gallagher is over, so it’s a
liquid lunch at All Bar One, New Oxford Street, where he’s
treated to the delights of lukewarm British beer. By 3pm back
at the office, it feels like double physics on a Friday
afternoon. I speak to our New York IT department, discussing
how to leverage our IT spend in the UK. Next, it’s a call with
our US legal department to resolve an ongoing issue. The
legal attorney is the owner’s daughter, so that’s interesting!
I head off at 5pm sharp to collect the kids and entice them to
meet the newest addition to the family, an Xbox 360 Kinetic
(purchased just for them, obviously).
Walking on Wimbledon Common and, as an avid Blackpool
fan, I sneak a look at the footie results on my BlackBerry. We
lose to West Brom, and I get an abusive text from [Brom fan]
Rob Atkinson at Clear Channel. It might be karma - when
The Tangerines last beat them, I couriered a bag of the fruit
to his desk.