Inspirational Woman: Fiona Gordon | CEO, Ogilvy UK

Fiona GordonI’m the CEO of Ogilvy UK based at SeaContainers on the Southbank – and yes I do have the most amazing river views!

I’ve been with Ogilvy for 30 years – joining as a graduate, and have worked and lived around the world leading big teams – like the WPP UK Team Lead for Walgreens Boots Alliance – and offices in the network like Ogilvy Singapore before a couple of months ago becoming CEO here in the UK.

Helping me in my role is my approach to life I am a born optimist – and love bringing people together to work on big client challenges to come up with creative solutions that grow their business and brand. Combine this with the fact I am also an action orientated Scot – and I think you are beginning to get the picture of me.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I did and I didn’t. Ogilvy is known as the University of Advertising so having read English at Edinburgh I knew I wanted to do something creative.  And when I arrived at Ogilvy (in my lovely new red suit) I felt at home and inspired.

I think one of the things that has helped me shape and plan my career since I joined Ogilvy has been my mentors.  I have been so lucky to have been mentored by some amazing women – Shelly Lazarus, a previous Ogilvy CEO and now Lindsay Pattison, the Chief Client Officer of WPP.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

All careers have moments when you think am I being valued, am I learning enough, am I progressing enough – I’ve been lucky (and maybe tenacious) that when I have put my hand up for opportunities at Ogilvy and WPP we’ve all worked to make them happen.

And then this last 18 months has put a lot in perspective in terms of true challenges people can face.   I took the route of getting a dog like many others – I love her (Poppy) unconditionally and more than I ever thought I would – but she brings her own special qualities – bouncing, crafty rug chewing, and wanting to join in on a few zoom calls.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I think becoming the CEO of Ogilvy London has to be right up there. It’s the largest single office in our network, and it’s a jewel in the crown creatively – we were the most awarded office in WPP at Cannes this year. But in the end it’s all about the impact you have on the people, both our staff and clients.  Probably my most personal moment is a thank you letter I once received from one of my team’s mum on how much she felt her daughter had grown as a person during the time on my team – that was pretty special.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I think I’m determined. I never give up. If me or the team get knocked back then we go again. With a smile.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I love mentoring  – and earlier I mentioned how important this has been to shaping my career. Right now, I am mentoring several young women who are at the start of their careers both in Ogilvy and in other WPP agencies, but I am also being reverse mentored – by one of our young rising stars – and I find that brilliant – its taught me so much already – and I’ve only had 2 sessions!

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

There’s lots of aspects to this but you just want one – I think as senior women we can help women shape their leadership style and get men to appreciate it. She’s not bossy, she’s bold.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Have fun – it’s going to be brilliant, interesting, and unexpected

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Well having only been in the job a matter of weeks I think getting Ogilvy UK winning more great clients and producing brilliant ideas is my focus. I have a fantastic team helping me run the business and it feels like the next stage of a really exciting journey.  As we return more to the office in person as part of our hybrid working I think we can achieve even more together – already it’s been so exciting to spark off people in real life. 

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