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Shaun Cole, Director of Born Agency

Shaun Cole is the Director of Born Agency, a UK-based creative design and marketing agency. He took some time-out to talk to The Industry Leaders about his love for his work and his wish for unpaid pitches to disappear!

How did you end up sitting where you are today?

To be honest, I have no idea!! I have been in the creative sector for over 30 years it's all I have ever known and all I have ever wanted to do, but I suppose hard work had something to do with it and a willingness to go the extra mile.

What kind of work does your role involve?

My day starts with a strong coffee or two, and I never really know what the day will bring as every day is different. I try to plan my day but usually by mid-morning unforeseen things hit my desk that need my attention or help.

My main focus is on client relationships and project management. But marketing the agency and collaboration with suppliers is also a vital part of my role.

What gets you excited about your industry?

Everything, I'm one of those annoying people who say "I love my job" but to be honest I do! Being creative and working with a really great team makes it a pleasure. Presenting great design to open-minded clients gives me a real buzz.

What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?

One of my old bosses once said to me on my first day at work for him, "if you can't take a joke you shouldn't have joined". Closely followed by "lead from the front and never ask anybody to do anything unless you're prepared to do it yourself".

I've always followed that advice, and it has paid off. The advice I give is don't take yourself too seriously and work to live not live to work.

What, or who inspires you?

I'm inspired by lots of things from music to art galleries, although I know that sounds a bit rubbish! But I think we are all inspired by everything around us every day.

I remember from being a small child that my Grandad loved work and what he did, and it's always stayed with me. It's been inspiring.

How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?

I take bits of information from all types of media, from trade magazines and websites to trade shows and events but I have a very close circle of friends and connections, and we all help each other and keep each other up to date with the sector and what's happening. Online trading is a great way to keep on top of things, too, there is so much available.

What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?

The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Rwanda. This project was one of the most challenging projects I have ever worked on for many reasons.

Firstly because of the amount of work that was created in a set timeframe. But also, the images and content were something I will never forget. The deadlines and logistics were a real challenge, and I even had the Rwanda Government give me special permissions to get the air freight through customs quicker, so we could hit the opening date when world leaders were to attend.

You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?

Yes, I would go to work, but I would definitely be late due to dropping in at the Aston Martin dealers.

How do you switch off after a day at work?

Listen to some great music in the car on the way home, followed by walking my two dogs and chilling out watching some rubbish tv. But I never really switch off.

If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?

Stop creative pitches. I don't know any other sector that is asked to do work for free using their time and skills. Try asking a chef to cook and serve a meal for free, and if you enjoy it you'll pay, and if you don't, you can walk away without paying.

How should people connect with you?

Just give me a call, and we can chat over a coffee.

Looking to level-up your leadership skills? Check out our article on the best self-help books for business leaders and entrepreneurs.


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