I had the great fortune of starting my career in the creative industries at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, one of the most iconic creative agencies of its generation. It was there that I learnt about great advertising, client-handling and how to build the perfect pitch, all of which has stayed with me over the years. BBH gave me great colleagues, mentors and friends – many of whom I still see today.
But it almost didn’t happen at all. The night before my interview, I travelled down from Leeds to stay at a friend’s house in North London. I was 20, still a student and didn’t know London very well. My friend lived about a mile from the Tube and, since I was wearing high heels and carrying an enormous case, I ordered a cab to the station. I closed the front door behind me, with no way of getting back in, and waited for the cab. So here I was, standing outside my friend’s house, dressed in a tasteful combo of green suit, purple shirt and high heels, waiting and waiting. But no car ever came. It seems almost another world to say this but, back then, I had no mobile to call someone, there was no Uber for me to order and there weren’t any payphones nearby.
I walked into the middle of the road just as a car was driving towards me
I’ve always been a tenacious person and if I set my mind to something, I find a way to make it happen. I was damn well going to make that interview. So I walked into the middle of the road just as a car was driving towards me and put out my hand. To my great relief, the car stopped and a little old lady wound down the window. I said: "I promise I’m not going to hurt you. I have an interview and need to get to the station." To her credit, she gave me a lift, I made it to the interview and the rest is history.
I wonder if something like that would happen today. For me, it’s a reminder that perseverance pays off and that sometimes even small moments can change a lifetime.
Nicola Mendelsohn was a student in 1992; now she is vice-president EMEA at Facebook