Interviews

Rania Robinson, CEO & Managing Partner, Quiet Storm

“I got very comfortable with feeling uncomfortable from a very young age.”

Izzy Ashton

Assistant Editor, BITE

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The child of immigrants from Egypt, Rania Robinson, who is now CEO and Managing Partner at Quiet Storm, started primary school not speaking a word of English: “I got very comfortable with feeling uncomfortable from a very young age.” This experience she believes set her up for her career because it made her unafraid to tackle new projects and to face new challenges.

She loved ads from a young age but never had the guidance to see that world as a viable job option. Despite dropping out of school at 16 - “when you’re directionless, it’s quite hard” - Robinson said she wasn’t short of female role models. Having a female head mistress at an all-girls school during the Thatcher-era meant she “never questioned” that she too could be a leader in her own right: “There was never anything as a woman you felt you couldn’t do.”

I got very comfortable with feeling uncomfortable from a very young age.

Rania Robinson

Aged 17, Robinson’s mum got a job in London, moving the family down from Salisbury. She says of that moment, “I was like this is where people like me are. They look like me, they think like me.” Robinson has always had a natural fascination with human behaviour and the melting pot of the city gave her an opportunity to observe and learn from those around her.

She said it “took me a while to find my feet” moving between the retail sector, secretarial college, music publishing, Virgin Vision and into a small agency called Billington Cartmel. As a rapidly expanding independent, Robinson worked alongside her day job to pick up extra hours. It was her first experience of account handling. As a result, she believes that everyone should gain the perspective from working within an indie: “There’s a different culture, different vibe, different energy.”

We can rewrite the rules as we see fit when they become less relevant.

Rania Robinson

Much of Robinson’s career has been spent between planning and strategy, working her way up as the years progressed: “I had quite a battle on my hands to be taken seriously and be considered beyond my position.” Once her children were born, she went freelance, recognising that the industry “wasn’t compatible” with the trajectory her life had taken: “I thought I’m going to have to sacrifice one or the other…[and] I didn’t want to make sacrifices.”

Now she works alongside her husband Trevor Robinson OBE who founded Quiet Storm 25 years ago. It was a move she says they swore they’d never do: “I just came in to help him on a pitch and never left.” The beauty of having a founder run business is, Robinson says, that the “entrepreneurial, self-starting, creatively led, family orientated” culture trickles down from the top. And, of course, “we can rewrite the rules as we see fit when they become less relevant.”

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Creativebrief: As CEO & Managing Partner at Quiet Storm, what is your primary focus?
Rania Robinson: Overall agency leadership with a particular focus on vision, growth and culture.
Creativebrief: What has been your agency's best work in the last year?
Rania Robinson: Vimto, ‘I See Vimto.’ It’s had a fundamental impact on their business and is being recognised for creative and strategic excellence on the awards circuit
Creativebrief: Industry wide, what work has excited you most this year?
Rania Robinson: Three ‘#phonesaregood’, Nike ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’, CALM ‘Project84’ and KFC’s Christmas Advert and ‘FCK’ social post.

Focus on doing the best possible work and the rest will follow.

Rania Robinson
Creativebrief: How do you see the advertising industry evolving over the next few years?
Rania Robinson: I’d like to see it get back to some of the fundamentals that made it so great in the past. Not in terms of the routes to the consumer but in terms of the originality and outstanding creativity that we saw more of in the past. Unfortunately, the obsession with measurability and minimising risk over transformational thinking and ideas is resulting in a lot of mediocre and functional communication.
Creativebrief: What are your ambitions for Quiet Storm over the next few years?
Rania Robinson: To do more outstanding work and continue to drive growth for our clients’ businesses.
Creativebrief: What piece of advice do you give to the junior members of your team?
Rania Robinson: Focus on doing the best possible work and the rest will follow.

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