David Watson, European brand convergence manager at Shell
International, has always taken hard business decisions. As a graduate
trainee in the strike-happy early 80s, he told tanker drivers it was
’ridiculous’ to threaten action over the canteen salads.
But last week he undoubtedly faced his toughest test - informing Ogilvy
and Mather that its services would no longer be required in Europe after
more than 40 years. The decision means that, after less than a year in
his current job, Watson has overseen a total facelift for Shell’s
European advertising. J. Walter Thompson now runs the pounds 60 million
creative account and CIA Medianetwork is in charge of Shell’s first
attempt at centralised media (Campaign, last week).
Watson insists: ’The European management team just decided it was time
to move to one agency, as we are doing in other parts of the world.’ Yet
it’s clear he is marked out at corporate level to deliver such decisions
At just 35, after 14 years at Shell, Watson admits he never meant to
stay longer than two years but kept being offered challenging jobs - a
fact borne out by his action-packed CV that proves just how keen Shell’s
bosses have been to keep him.
After that first depot-based sales and marketing job, Watson became an
international rep selling aviation fuel before becoming an oil trader in
the futures markets - passing up an MBA on the way. After a stint as one
of four regional UK industrial sales managers, he became credit card
marketing manager at Shell UK before being promoted to brand marketing
communications manager, a position he held from1991 to 1993. He has
since turned his focus internationally, with roles including that of
worldwide commercial recruitment manager across all non-technical
Watson is hard to pin down on ambitions but admits he would like to
spend more time on sport and languages. He would not rule out the
prospect of being a ’Shell lifer’ - a possibility that will, no doubt,
please his bosses.