Thought Leadership

Mr. President 5 learnings from 10 years

The agency shares learnings on resilience and reflects on new ways of working

Mizzy Lees, Mr. President

Managing Director

Share


Mr. President is ten years old this year. Turning ten has certainly made us reflect on what sort of a business we are. Needless to say, the last few years were a brutal experience, but we realised we are pretty resilient, we genuinely care about each other, and our fundamental values are really good ones. Post pandemic (and it is very much post pandemic now, we’ve moved on) we are not tirelessly working to make things ‘go back to normal’, our stance has always been to look up, listen to what is going on around us and not be afraid to embrace change. Here are five things we’ve done differently recently that are working well for us right now.

Leaning into hybrid working

We could have demanded the team get back to the office four days a week, that is what works for me. But it isn’t what work works best for everyone and ultimately this is a team game. We started out on two days a week and we’ve organically grown into 3-4 days a week. There are some fundamental elements of hybrid that we keep to – the office is open to everyone Monday to Thursday, we encourage people to be in Tuesday and Thursday for in person meetings but there are no mandatory rules, we don’t have fixed hours in the office, we trust our team to do their jobs where and how they wish (since we have always worked flexibly). Hybrid working works, our team feels connected but also in control of their own time.

Needless to say, the last few years were a brutal experience, but we realised we are pretty resilient, we genuinely care about each other, and our fundamental values are really good ones

Mizzy Lees, Managing Director at Mr. President

Keeping the team spirit alive

Working hybrid means that we don’t see each other as often as we used to, so getting our team together away from the office/screen has become far more important and has done wonders for our collective energy. We go out for an all-agency dinner about once a quarter, we regularly have drinks in our local pub on a Tuesday or Thursday after work, and this summer we took all the team to a festival in Lisbon for two nights. It was THE BEST. Not in a forced cheesy work away-day way, but in a very relaxed ‘on hols with your mates’ kind of way. There are real friendships in the group, not just colleagues. It makes a difference when things get hard on a project or under the pressure of a pitch.

Prioritising personal development

We have ripped up the old school annual review process and have prioritised personal development. We each have a personal progress diary that we manage ourselves, rather than a manager writing an end of term report. Having ownership of your own development is quite empowering. Of course, line managers are there to help provide guidance and carve out opportunities, but it’s not led by the manager, which helps. We also introduced all-agency feedback week - each employee (including the three partners) chose three people in the agency to provide feedback on them; what they are smashing right now and what they should concentrate on next. It was incredible, people were so generous with their comments, it wasn’t just ‘you’re great, well done us’. There were some really insightful observations in there that people took away and are working on. There’s something different about being asked for feedback personally, it makes you really think about what you say. It’s an exercise we’re going to repeat in the Autumn and continue to do twice a year. People feel like they have a path and that we are genuinely helping them to get there.

Trying new things

We are saying yes to unexpected ways of working, including collaborating with our old friends James Cooper and Flo Heiss. They’ve come together to form a super senior creative team known as Zooperheiss. Ensconced in Mr. President, they get to access our amazing strategic and production capabilities and we get to tap into their creativity. It’s turning out to be a wonderful working arrangement that’s opening up all sorts of unexpected opportunities. Together, we’re working on some incredible projects for the likes of Goldman Sachs and Verizon, and we are looking forward to sharing some of the beautiful work as and when it's ready.

Reflect and learn

When you go through a period of uncertainty it makes you look meticulously at everything you do, ensuring that you optimise every opportunity. As part of this process, we brought back washup sessions for important projects - the great and gnarly ones, and they’re working out really well. It is helpful to get together and reflect on what happened, not just to gather learnings but also for morale, to recognise that it was a shared experience and we cracked it together. We’re very aware that there is no perfect, no one gets it 100% right, but we’re always looking to learn something new that we can accommodate next time.

Guest Author

Mizzy Lees, Mr. President

Managing Director

About

Mizzy took a somewhat untraditional journey to become Managing Director at Mr. President: she began her career in Client Service at Digital Agency of the Decade, Dare, where she ran accounts for ITV, Barclays and Sony Ericsson. Using her ‘front line’ experience and understanding of what you need to do your job well (and enjoy it at the same time), she side-stepped into HR and Ops. In her role as People Director, she was appointed to Mr. President’s management team. Earlier this year she was promoted to Managing Director where she leads the 30 strong team: keeping an open dialogue, maintaining a healthy work/life balance for everyone, supporting personal growth and making sure everyone has a good time.

Agencies Featured