Member Spotlight: Rob Pierre
CEO Rob Pierre – awarded Business Person of the Year at the Gatwick Diamond Business Awards 2018 – is a highly motivated and inspiring leader who co-founded Jellyfish, a global digital marketing agency that originally launched in Reigate in 2005. As an RGS parent he is a member of our Reigatian community and the RGS Professionals Group. We asked him some questions about his business experience and what’s next for Jellyfish.
What is your background/education?
I did my A-Levels at St. Bede’s in Redhill. During this period, I applied for a sponsored computer studies degree with IBM – a prestigious paid-for course that offered a guaranteed job with IBM upon completion. After an intense two days of assessments, aptitude tests, interviews and group sessions conducted by senior members of the IBM team, I was delighted to receive an offer from IBM pending my A-Level results. Unfortunately, my Physics A-Level didn’t go as expected and I missed out on attending the IBM graduate scheme by just two points. Subsequently, I landed a role at Sunglass Hut in Gatwick Airport – little did I know at the time that this was to be the exciting kickstart to a successful career.
Business experience that led you to your role as CEO of Jellyfish
During my seven-year tenure at Sunglass Hut, I discovered a true passion and talent for business and was appointed Sales and Marketing Director of Sunglass Hut Europe. As a US heritage company with an international presence, the Sunglass Hut provided me with first class training and they were great at investing in their management team.
After leaving the Sunglass Hut, I went on to work for Southampton based entrepreneur, Martin Mansbridge, where I learnt the sharp end of business. There I had more accountability for all business aspects and this, combined with the corporate knowledge I had gained from Sunglass Hut, gave me the skills to take a leap – leaving a permanent job with a regular income to co-launch Jellyfish in 2005. I felt the risk would be worthwhile and am pleased to say I was right.
Starting with a team of 15 based in Reigate, my primary focus for Jellyfish was on paid search marketing for the publishing sector. From these humble beginnings, Jellyfish has grown to a 450 strong agency with an annualised GP in excess of £45m , with ten offices across three continents. Jellyfish now offers clients a full spectrum of digital marketing services, including paid and organic search, social media, display advertising, web design and build, video production, analytics and training.
What are your goals for the future (Jellyfish and personal)?
My goal is to continue to grow Jellyfish and build a new category of agency that will sit above the smaller performance-based agencies but, naturally, not be as large as the six big digital networks. So in theory, a large full-service digital agency that provides a boutique style offering to clients. My short to medium business goals are to reach a headcount of 1,000 and generate £100m revenue by the year 2020.
On a personal level, being well versed and recognised within the industry has helped me make some well-informed investments whilst also keeping me afoot of technology advancements, as and when they happen. With the incredible expansion of Jellyfish from 2005, I plan to build relationships with startups, to help them achieve similar growth and build a portfolio of investments and achievements.
As a keen golfer, I aim to get to a stage where I can play more at my home club, The Wisley, and get down to a scratch handicap!
What are your top tips as a leader in bringing out the best in your team?
I have a great passion for digital marketing and take every opportunity to share my vision through a monthly update with the global business. My belief is that the business needs a strategy that everyone is behind and working towards, rather than one person creating what they think is the perfect strategy – but doesn’t have buy-in from all.
I am a true believer that good judgement comes from experience, but experience comes from bad judgement. This is one of the many core values that I regularly share with the Jellyfish global recruitment teams and senior management. As a member of the Surrey Skills and Employment Board, it’s becoming increasingly important that we gear the next generation up for the opportunity within digital, being such fast growing and fast moving industry. Therefore, my team and I launched the Jellyfish Academy in 2013 – a three-month global programme that teaches its students the fundamental principles of a specific area within digital marketing – with a guaranteed job at Jellyfish upon completion.
What would your advice to other business leaders be on how best to manage digital within their organisations?
My key advice would be to ensure that there is a base knowledge and digital literacy within the organisation. People need to understand what is possible, and they can get this through training and education.
They don’t need to understand how to facilitate the possibilities in granular detail – that’s where organisations like Jellyfish step in. But once they understand what’s possible and measure the correct data, they’ll be getting the best from their results.