Leaders

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Al Young on loving the ordinary

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There may not be a secret formula to great leadership, but if there were, we'd say that chief creative officer Al Young is on the right path to finding it.

Having joined St Luke's as a junior writer all the way back in 1992, Al has "grown into" his position and is still driven by the same commitment as nearly 30 years ago.

Today we are Getting to Know one of our Top 100 Influencers of 2020, a leader who loves the ordinary and believes in the power of cheerleading whenever there's a project everyone in his team feels in love with.

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Tell us about your current role!

I am Al Young, CCO at St Luke’s. My job is to look over the agency’s creative work and to look after the creative department.

How did you get to your current position? What was the biggest challenge?

I grew into my position. I joined St Luke’s as a junior writer in 1992. My interviewers told me they wanted it to be a “job for life” - I considered that preposterous at the time but have been here ever since.

The biggest challenge is not getting spread too thinly. We have great CDs at St Luke’s with exec powers covering different key accounts. Every client is looked after properly.

What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?

I went to a tough comprehensive school in overspill town. It’s taught me to love ordinary working-class people in a way a lot of industry people don’t. And it makes me better at recognising the right idea for a mass market audience.

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I think I would want to write for the screen.

What’s your secret to keeping the team inspired and motivated?

Always tell them they are onto something because, no matter how small it is, they always are. Cheerlead like hell when there’s an idea we all love.

How has COVID-19 affected you as a leader?

Though I really miss seeing the guys face to face, C19 showed me our culture is stronger than I imagined. We competitively pitched and won three large, new accounts only ever meeting the clients on zoom.

What is your one advice to aspiring creatives looking to be successful?

Keep turning up, keep pumping your contacts. On placement, when you get your stuff rejected 3, 4, 5 times, keep come back with better stuff. Just keep going.

How do you recharge away from the office?

Natural solitude. I’m born again as a country boy.

What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?

Get us ever-closer to supporting our client’s long term goals.

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