Nick Melvin – Under the arches

Nick Melvin – Chief Executive Officer

The secret lives of the people behind the Delineo brand.

As part of our series of interviews with staff members, Nick Melvin, Chief Executive Officer, takes to the couch and tells us about his career and life both inside and outside of Delineo.

Nick, what is your background before Delineo?

I was in roles that we service now. From graduating, I went in to a marketing management career pathway in the corporate world of IT, telecoms and construction. I worked through the ranks from Marketing Executive to Marketing Director. This was for twelve years up to the point that I bought the agency.

 So, what attracted you to buying Delineo?

I wanted to work for an agency when I graduated. I did a one year sandwich placement as part of my degree and wrote to 70 agencies with virtually no replies. And this was in the days of handwritten letters! My degree was more client-side and that never really went away. For twelve years I worked with agencies and I thought they looked like really great places to work. This just fuelled my desire to work in one! BT and Siemens were culturally very different and the closer I got to agencies, the more I wanted to be there. It was proving increasingly difficult to make the leap from corporate client-side to agency. The only way, as I saw it, was to buy an agency and the agency I bought was my preferred supplier of graphic design services at the time. Two of the existing people, Carl and Dave, are still here with us today!

Can you describe a typical week?

I noticed that many of the people you have interviewed have already spoken of variety, and my role, I feel, is as similarly varied as others in the business. I am increasingly focused on three key priorities.

  1. Helping our clients to succeed.  Whilst all our clients are different, they are unified by the need to achieve success in their career and for their organisations. If they have access to specialist skills and talent their chances of success are dramatically improved.
  2. Creating an environment that appeals to talented people with specialist skills.  As our people are the very essence of the agency, we have to work hard to be a place that they want to work and stay. So, I’m constantly thinking about providing a place in which my colleagues will be inspired to work.
  3. Attracting investment.  For many years, we have invested in the agency to build something with the potential to last beyond the working lifetime of any individual. To protect this ambition over the long-term, we have to remain attractive to investing shareholders to ensure we have the resources to keep building the agency.

Pretty much everything I do in a typical working week comes back to these three priority areas.

Looking back to 1998, is Delineo now, how you imagined it would be?

No! [laughs] I was quite anti-establishment. There are over four and a half thousand agencies in the UK. As a new entrant I didn’t want us to simply re-create something that already existed. My proposition was very much around being unlike other agencies. From our proposition back then, we have grown, matured and become a significant part of the agency landscape.  These days we have a lot in common with big agencies – not least because we realise that the model works! I have huge respect for small agencies, we were one, but I have no ambition to be like one again.

How would you describe Delineo’s culture? 

What I like most of all is that you don’t have to tell people to do the job. There is a desire to be here. It’s hard to put in to words, but it’s a universal thing. Everyone here does well in this environment. It doesn’t feel like a group of workers and bosses, it’s more a collection of people wanting to do a great job. And they do.

How has the industry changed in your experience?

The biggest factor has been the timeframes in which people are required to work. It is so much faster. Results are expected quicker, everything has been condensed. This is partly due to computerisation, partly the internet, partly the 24 hour society, partly because we are in the information age and partly because we are a more globally aware society. The entire world turns faster and this has put huge pressure on marketing professionals. However, what works and what doesn’t has remained the same in so many ways. A good proposition for the target audience, communicated in an engaging way is still at the core of everything we do.

When you’re not under the arches, how do you spend your time?

I love being outdoors, it makes me come alive. For me, this is usually walking the dog in the countryside or playing golf. The thing I love about golf is the competitive nature, it is fully immersive and takes my mind off everything else. The golf course is the place where I feel most at home in the world. It gives me a sense of belonging; having played since I was eight years old, which is probably why a golf course is the place I feel most at home.  Conversely, the array of technology gadgets I have at home provide a fantastic way of diverting attention away from the pressures of agency life as getting everything to work together is like solving a puzzle.

I also really enjoy the unwritten rules of community. With age, I have grown to value the importance of being part of a community with shared experiences.  There’s something very comforting and reassuring about being surrounded by schools, shops, woods, parks, restaurants, pubs, events and the like that everyone around you (including family, friends, neighbours and community) gains a shared experience.

In the picture you have used, I was just eighteen. Wearing a golf jumper. When I look at that picture at fifty, I fundamentally feel the same now as I did then! You never really properly grow up…

Nick has recently been joined on the board by Simon Callan, Leigh Sheridan, Sam Rowlands and Stephen Frater who now collectively form the Exec team at the helm of Delineo.