Shaper: Rob Pierre

Show aired on 13th January 2018


Rob Pierre
Chief Executive Officer, Jellyfish

Rob Pierre is the co-founder and CEO of Jellyfish, a fast-growing digital agency whose clients include Nestlé, Experian, Toyota and Samsung.

Since its inception in 2005, Rob has grown the agency to over 400 staff working across seven offices in Europe, the U.S. and South Africa. In the last year alone, Jellyfish came 42nd in The Sunday Times International Track 200, were awarded Performance Agency of the Year at the Drum Search Awards and won SEM Agency of the Year at the Search Engine Land Awards, among other accolades. Last year also marked the launch of the agency’s new headquarters in London’s iconic The Shard.

Featured in the BIMA 100 2017, Rob’s passion for digital is infectious. He actively shares his thinking with his colleagues and the wider industry. As well as being a regular contributor to the trade and business press, Rob is also an experienced awards judge, having served as a juror for the Brand Republic Digital Awards and The Drum Search Awards, amongst others.

Rob has created an environment where people are encouraged to challenge process and innovate. This culture has cultivated a highly motivated team with an open approach where anyone can share their thoughts and ideas freely.

Follow Rob on Twitter @robapierre.

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Paul Walsh and I decided on a stag do that I would quit my job, join him and start a marketing agency. I drew on his passion for having his destiny in his own hands, of being able to make a difference and to be autonomous.

When you’re sort restructuring anything it’s often best to do it in one go, then you sort of build it from the ground up with the right foundations. It’s a bit like when you’re in a buying frenzy: once you’ve bought one thing you just end up buying more. When I made one big decision I just made them all.

I look for the core traits and attributes in people. Our industry moves so quickly that if you’ve got the right aptitude, the right attitude, if you’re passionate then often you will find the right way to overcome problems. We don’t have veterans in the digital world.

We had this great idea that for every ten years they spend in our business we will our people a Rolex because in the digital world it’s like dog years – one year is like seven. Now, nine years in we’re trying to see if we can save ourselves a Rolex, but it doesn’t seem to be working.

Our vision is to be the biggest boutique agency in the world, not to lose all the traits and the nice family atmosphere that you get in a boutique agency at the expense of scale. I do a lot of things to try and stay close – I still induct every single person that starts at Jellyfish.

Our values are to be passionate, to be the solution, to be positive and that’s a little bit around how I think people would describe me.

There was a time when we were about eighty people that we lost three clients and 60% of our gross profit revenue in the space of six months -there were mitigating circumstances beyond our control. So things are great, but it hasn’t always been that way.

It seems like lots of things are happening in silo, but we’re taught that to remember something you should turn it into a story and then all the pieces come together and you remember it. I see running a business in the same way.

I’m going to be okay – that is not what motivates me right now. My focus is on everybody within the organisation – to make sure everybody has career progression, that there’s opportunity, that they’re in a safe place where they can provide for their families and that we have a sustainable business that gives people the platform to get the best out of themselves and their career. It 100% is not about the money.

Life is very random and it does throw you challenges, but you can positively affect the outcome.