Sharing The Wisdom – featuring Jo Penn

The purpose of article series ‘Sharing The Wisdom’ is to feature, showcase and share knowledge, expert views and wisdom. Local. Authentic. Insightful.

Here, Jo Penn, Managing Director of Armadillo shares their take.

Theo @ ADLIB: Could you please introduce yourself as well as your background?

Jo: I’m Jo Penn, Managing Director at Armadillo CRM.

I’ve worked for Digital Advertising and CRM agencies for the last 15 years in London and Bristol, running global accounts like Nike, Absolute Company, Unilever and McDonald’s.

I tried not working in an agency once but found that the high energy agency culture suits me the most. I like the flat structure – everyone at our agency has lunches with the directors and CEO, or can regularly just grab them in the office. Plus, the agencies I’ve worked in always seem to have the best coffee machines and snacks, so what’s not to love?

I’m very excited to have gone full circle in my career. Having started in CRM and first party data, I’m now back there working with some of the world’s biggest brands –McDonald’s, Disney and Carnival.

Theo @ ADLIB: In an attempt to capture some of the Wisdom you’ve gained as a professional so far, what are 5 “stand-out things” you’ve learned that you’d like to pass on to your peers as well as the future generation of talent within your sector?

Jo: Agencies are a great place to learn and to progress quickly. You’re given a lot of autonomy to make from it what you want, so if you’re hungry to do well in the right way, agencies are a great place to thrive.

If I could go back to the start, I would tell myself the following:

  1. Always go to your peers or line manager with a solution not a problem. That is not to say that your solution is the correct one, but if you’ve spent the time to think of a solution then you are most likely to get the support you want or need.  
  2. Be a nice person. We’ve had lots of people join our agency because of how fast we’re growing. The number one thing we hear from those people is that everyone at our agency is so helpful and, even if busy, will always help. This attitude comes all the way from the top – we pride ourselves on hiring people who want to succeed, but in the right way, not at the cost of anyone else.
  1. Work with brands you love. It makes all the difference if you have a passion for what you’re advertising. I don’t necessarily wear Nike trainers, eat Marmite, watch Disney films or eat a McDonald’s every day, but I do love these brands and the work they do, and that has made my work all that more enjoyable.
  1. Never be afraid to give your opinion. Similarly, never be afraid of listening to other people’s opinions. The greatest work is made with input from all over a business.
  1. Don’t forget to have fun! We spend a lot of our lives at work, so it shouldn’t be boring. I always look for agencies like Armadillo that encourage and organise events like boat trips, lunches, darts or bowling.  

Theo @ ADLIB: What is your take on the importance of role models?

Jo: I’ve always had people I’ve worked with that I have wanted to learn from. I guess in my eyes they were and are role models. I think we should have people that we can learn things from at all stages in our careers, though we should always be aiming to grow rather than imitate. Humans are all unique – that’s what give us all the ability to grow in our own way and add our own essence to what we learn.

I think diversity in companies and providing more diverse role models or mentors at all levels, for all people, can only be a good thing.

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