My Media Week: Chris Whitelaw

This week, Chris Whitelaw, CEO, iProspect UK, keeps clients up to date with Google's latest algorithm changes and takes his rapidly-growing team to Polo in the Park, all while battling baby-induced sleep deprivation

Chris Whitelaw: chief executive of iProspect UK
Chris Whitelaw: chief executive of iProspect UK


It's 9am on a rainy June Monday as I arrive in the office. This is the time for planning for the week ahead, meeting the management team to discuss current clients' needs, upcoming pitches, training, and overall performance. These meetings help me keep on top of developments across the company.

First up, it's a meeting with our operations director to discuss recruitment needs over the next three months. As we continue to grow, the management team is devoting a lot of time to ensuring we're recruiting – and retaining – the best and brightest. Recruitment is particularly relevant now, as we've recently secured exciting new business, so we discuss the expansion of some of our teams. Next, I grab a bite to eat and I sit down with the FD to track agency performance and financial KPIs.

An afternoon of emails and calls, then home to a sleepless night with my baby son. Having been through sleep deprivation with my first child, you'd think I'd be used to it, but it turns out that bouncing out of bed every hour doesn't get much easier second time around.


First thing today I meet with the training company Decoded to discuss the recent 'Learn to Code in a Day' workshop. As it went so well, we plan to repeat the event in future.

Around 12pm, Ben Wood and I discuss several pan-European client campaigns. Ben was previously managing director of iProspect UK, before he became president of iProspect Global this May. As we work with many international clients, coordination between different national offices is a vital part of our operations.

Later in the afternoon I attend the regular 'Issues and Improvements' meeting with our agency operations leaders. This is a way of keeping everyone up to date on issues that affect the different channels, and pooling our thoughts on how best to address them. The day wraps up with a meeting to discuss a new product proposition with one of our channel heads.


Most of the morning is spent on client calls. Regular communication is the foundation of successful client relationships, but this is particularly important at the moment, with the recent launch of Google's algorithm update Penguin 2.0. Again it's a quick lunch on the move.

In my role as chairman of the Institute of Practitioners of Advertising Search Group, I meet with the IPA's Nigel Gwiliam to finalise details of the upcoming Ad School for Search programme. The programme is a great opportunity for grads to get hands-on work experience at search agencies.

I leave work at 7pm and head home for dinner with my family. With the weather getting brighter, it's nice to get out when it's not already dark. My son again decides that sleeping is off the agenda, so my "day" keeps going until the early hours.


The day kicks off with a meeting with one of our long-term clients to discuss digital strategy for the remainder of 2013 and 2014. We discuss the brand's aims, and our roadmap to achieve them. As we're going into detail, this takes up most of the morning.

Today – miraculously – the sun is shining, so the area around Great Portland Street is busy with office workers looking for a place to sit and enjoy a quick lunch outside.

Back at iProspect, and the first Thursday of the month is one of our regular agency-wide meetings attended by all 250 staff. This is an opportunity to share recent client wins, reward people who have been visibly living our values, and celebrate examples of brilliant work done by the team. As we're growing so quickly, it's also a great opportunity to welcome new starters to the company.


I'm in a breakfast meeting with Google UK's agency leader Dominic Allon to discuss upcoming projects and client events. In a taxi, I catch up on the latest about the NSA surveillance story unfolding in the States, and wonder how far it might affect people's attitude towards their online activity.

I have client calls the remainder of the morning, then the week ends on a high with a team event. This time it's Polo in the Park, so blazers and summer dresses are the order of the day.

Whether or not we follow all the intricacies of the sport, everyone gets into the spirit, helping with the divot stomping and using the word 'chukka' at every available opportunity. A drink in the sun finishes an otherwise typically busy week.

Age: 37
Favourite media: I'm addicted to my iPad – it’s perfect for keeping up to speed with the latest sector and general news when travelling between meetings.
Dream job: For me, upcoming developments in digital (everything from improved attribution modelling and a richer understanding of the consumer journey, to the impact of continued Google updates for SEO, to the constantly changing possibilities for using Facebook and Twitter as ad platforms) are too exciting to want to be anywhere else.
Not a lot of people know this about me... I know how to fly a plane, although what with holidays and travelling for work nowadays, I fly a lot more frequently as a passenger than a pilot.


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