January 01, 2019
An Interview with Gemma Atkinson, Chief Operating Officer, International Division
Gemma Atkinson joined Active International in 2011 as Head of Business Development, where she developed and implemented sales strategies for advertisers and media agencies. Since June 2018, Atkinson has been International COO and is responsible for helping to set strategy and develop long-term partnerships.
With 35 years of experience, Active International (activeinternational.com) is a global financial solutions company that drives performance and improves business outcomes for leading brands. A data-driven company, with media as a core competency, Active operates a full-service omnichannel media agency. In addition to media, Active brings to bear a broad portfolio of competencies such as Asset Disposition/Merchandise Sales, Real Estate, Retail Marketing, Travel and Hospitality, Freight & Logistics, and Lighting. Through the application of its core business model, Active is able to create financial benefits to serve its clients. Active International is based in New York and has offices in 15 countries.
Will you discuss your focus as International COO for Active?
As COO, I spend 50 percent of my time working on the U.K. operation and the other 50 percent focused on developing our international network, which reaches across Europe, Australia, Canada and Mexico.
Our International ambition is to be the corporate trade company of choice, both for our expertise and the way we work. Across International we are committed to investing in our people and developing a culture that celebrates creativity and collaboration.
Our expertise is located across many sectors and we do not fit neatly into one box. This means our breadth and depth of experience enables us to flex, adapt and lead in a changing landscape.
How do you see Active’s future?
The future is full of both possibility and opportunity. After 35 years of global success, we are looking forward to continuing to deliver commercial innovation for our partners.
In the immediate term across International, we are excited to be working on the development of a three-year plan which focuses on our key operating framework. To achieve more and amplify positive business outcomes for our partners, we need to ruthlessly prioritize. Our focus is on building and maintaining meaningful relationships with partners of today and of tomorrow. We will listen to understand and then act. We are borne of entrepreneurs and we want to build a company that continues to think and act in that way every day with every opportunity.
Is there still an education process in international markets when it comes to understanding Active’s services and solutions?
The education process will always be important to Active, and we want people to work with us because they fully understand our offering. When we meet with clients around the table, with representatives across functions from marketing, procurement, financial and sales, understanding is the key ingredient to a great relationship.
We want people to challenge us and bring us into their business opportunities and challenges.
We have spent a significant amount of time over the past two years in the U.K. going out to our agencies, clients and media partners to ascertain how Corporate Trade can help accelerate their businesses. The more we understand their business, the more we can deliver material and meaningful solutions.
We have spent time across the countries refining our internal values and understanding how these can galvanize people to think about what is possible.
One of the values that resonates with me, and that demonstrates how Active continues to transform, is creativity. The team at Active has the creativity to wrestle with ideas, to stimulate different ways of thinking about challenges and opportunities and to arrive at solutions that add value through insight.
Simon Sinek has a quote that I think sums up our approach to our leadership, to our talent, to our culture and to our business practice: “Leadership is not about being in charge, leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”