MEDIA HEADLINER: founder leaps into pure commerce with Carlton - Rupert Miles had to bare his soul before his latest move, Ashley Davies hears

Rupert Miles, the new managing director of Carlton Interactive Media, sometimes talks like a man who has had therapy to help deal with a premature mid-life crisis.

Rupert Miles, the new managing director of Carlton Interactive

Media, sometimes talks like a man who has had therapy to help deal with

a premature mid-life crisis.

One could argue that he’s had the professional equivalent, having spent

six weeks last year at the Wharton business school - the Harvard rival -

where the course included a session with a psychiatrist who asked him to

reveal his Jungian shadow. One of the messages Miles came out clutching

was that ’reward is in the journey’.

’I see a lot of people choosing a lot of goals and by the time they get

there they find it’s not quite what they thought it would be. I haven’t

defined the end goal but I enjoy the journey,’ he says. ’In your forties

(he’s still reasonably fresh-faced, he’s only two years into this age

group) you go through a deep process of re-assessment, and I have

learned to get a clearer sense of my own priorities and to be more

sensitive about other people.’

Just when you think he’s about to turn into Sting and start talking

about tantric sex, he adds that this reassessment has helped him

establish a healthier balance between a demanding professional life and

a personal life, hinting that the 80-hour weeks have nearly pushed that

balance out of kilter.

Whatever magic they taught him at Wharton, he’s going to need it. Not

only does he have a massive task ahead of him when he joins Carlton

Interactive Media, but he still has a stack of work to do before he

leaves, which he set up three years ago. is the

lovechild of the BBC and ICL, although ICL funded the whole venture.

ICL’s contract is up for review at the end of the year, so before

dashing off to the world of pure commercialism he has to renegotiate the

IT giant’s terms of engagement.

While admitting there is never a good time to leave a job because there

are so many critical things going on, Miles says he has become ’a bit of

an adrenaline junkie’ and found Carlton’s offer difficult to resist.

The job will give him more power. He gets a seat on the Carlton Media

Board, and he will take responsibility for Carlton Online, overseeing a

host of launches under its brand. He says he is particularly looking

forward to being in charge of DHE, Carlton’s internet fulfilment


’This element is critical,’ he enthuses. ’In the future of this medium

one of the many revenue streams will be selling online.’

One of his aims - apart from getting the business to make a profit - is

to drive closer integration of all the interactive elements of Carlton,

including the digital channels, the online services and fulfilment. As

the open plan, touchy-feely atmosphere of testifies, he’s a big

fan of a less conventionally structured working culture - a climate

which ’doesn’t frown on idiosyncratic ideas’.

’The best ideas don’t come from hierarchical decision-making,’ he


’The inherent problem with most media is that people in the target

audience - those who possibly should be making the creative decisions -

are typically at the bottom of the pyramid. We have to encourage a

culture that gets people to speak out.’

Miles developed a reputation for being a bit brainy ten years ago as

part of the launch team for the short-lived Sunday Correspondent, where

he also learned what it was like to launch from an empty-desk phase.

One agency head observes: ’Since then he’s epitomised the stereotype of

the ad guy: smart-looking and smart-talking, but his smoothness makes me

think that what he’s best at is acting smart.’

One also gets the impression he is relishing leaving an organisation

obsessed by funding. It must get pretty boring defending your

professional actions against accusations of over-commercialism. Miles

had his fair share of that last month when the corporation announced the

launch of freebeeb, a free internet service provider.

Others suggest that Carlton’s lure must surely have included some longer

term financial incentives - the kind of thing commercially minded folk

just won’t get a sniff of at the BBC. Unless, of course, the corporation

does opt for a partial sell-off of BBC Worldwide, as recommended by the

Davies Committee. Until then, isn’t the BBC going to lose its brightest

new-media sparks to rivals?

Miles’ response is diplomatic: ’In the commercial world it is possible

for people to gain a share of the value they create for the companies

they work for. As a manager, that’s a very useful tool. It must be of

some concern to the BBC.’



Cambridge Evening News, ad sales director


The Guardian, ad sales executive becoming ad manager


Sunday Correspondent, ad director


Elle, publisher


IPC Weeklies, group ad director


Radio Times, publishing director


BBC Online, director


Carlton Interactive Media, managing director