Glanvill says MindShare doesn't need fixing

Does Jed Glanvill have the dynamism to steer the £700 million-billing agency in the right direction?

Jed Glanvill. It's the sort of name you'd expect to find attached to a worthy, honest-to-God toiler in a DH Lawrence or George Eliot novel.

But Glanvill, who has just landed the UK chief executive job at MindShare, has a more exotic background - having been born in Libya, the result of having a father who travelled around for his work.

A planner by background, Glanvill's task now is arguably quite grinding.

MindShare has been riding the crest of a wave for some time - it has been Campaign's Media Agency of the Year for the past two years and has won bucketloads of new business and awards.

Kelly Clark, who will move from the chief executive role at the end of the year to take a new role running MindShare's Group M media holding group across Europe, will be a tough act to follow. How can Glanvill possibly live up to what has gone before?

On the other hand, though, you could argue that everything is set fair for him. The agency has a strong management team. In addition, the MindShare network and WPP generally provide a good flow of international new business to bolster UK revenues at an agency that already boasts billings in excess of £700 million.

Despite the creation of a stronger Group M management structure, with MediaCom's Stephen Allan taking the role of UK chief executive, Glanvill will continue to report to MindShare management - its worldwide chief executive, Dominic Proctor, and the chief executive in Europe, Giulio Malegori.

So what does Glanvill, 36, see as his challenge? "It is the best job in London but the challenge for me is to keep MindShare moving in the same direction it has been for the past two years. It's not an organisation that needs fixing."

He does say, however, that there is a commitment to a greater integration of digital, direct and retail media into the rest of the agency's activity, enhancing its "house of media" offering. This is something Glanvill is personally fired up by, having joined MindShare in 2000 from the then BBJ to head its activity in the futures and digital area.

Glanvill says: "I don't want what we do to be seen as a fluffy mist - we need to be a professional media agency in the way we treat people and deliver for clients."

MindShare's decision to promote Glanvill is part of a considered succession plan, Proctor says. He says Clark was always going to do three years in the job before moving on and that Glanvill's elevation will bring continuity.

"Jed is passionate about the company, he completely understands and sees our vision and clients and gets the global strength of MindShare, which is our key asset," Proctor concludes.

Glanvill is liked and respected within the agency but not everyone in the industry is fired up by his promotion. Critics suggest that he's rather underwhelming when put in front of new contacts and potential clients, coming across as merely a nice bloke, rather than a dynamic, incisive leader.

However, his supporters say that Glanvill's charm and likeable demeanour shouldn't count against him. Chris Boothby, the worldwide investment director at Vizeum, says: "He's very bright but very human and not aloof. He's disarming with clients and people around him but has always been very business-focused and ambitious. I think in the early days he had to work to channel that properly, but he's done it correctly with the gravitas of being older."

Glanvill says that landing the chief executive role wasn't a formality.

He was told a fortnight ago by Proctor that he'd won the promotion, but has he always had his eye on this sort of prize? "No. I've got quite short horizons - I don't tend to look at things further than a couple of years ahead," he says. "I took a job here to run a business unit and hoped I'd do it well, but I'm philosophical enough to know things change quickly."

Outside work, Glanvill has evolved into a family man. Married to Trista Grant, the former managing director and chairman of Vizeum, he spends weekends in Somerset with his wife and young son. Weekdays, he stays in London, where he doesn't have much time for interests outside work. He's not averse to the occasional night out on the town, though, once MindShare business is concluded.

One issue that Glanvill is likely to face is the preservation and evolution of the MindShare culture. The global nature of many of its new-business wins, and the growing willingness within WPP for greater co-operation between its media networks, could pose a threat as well as an opportunity. However, Glanvill is at pains to point out that he's aware of the issue. He says: "It's a balance between getting the best in class from a global network and a strong local market."

Proctor, unsurprisingly, is also keen for MindShare to build a distinct presence. "Part of Jed's challenge is to maintain this strong culture," he says.

If Glanvill can hold his senior team together, he should be able to achieve this. But it will be interesting to see whether his passion for the business can help MindShare make the leap from a slick business to an agency that can take on all-comers - much as its WPP sister agency MediaCom achieved earlier in the decade.

THE LOWDOWN Age: 36 Lives: Somerset/London Family: Wife, son George, two Most treasured possession: Rugby World Cup 2003 final ticket Describe yourself in three words: Stubborn, impatient, bad-tempered Greatest extravagance: My gym membership Favourite ad: Boddingtons press work Motto: Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today