Account director

Matt Smith

Matt’s our Account Director, and one of three Matthews here in the studio. Well groomed, organised and deceptively charming, he brings a touch of class to our already pretty presentable client services team…

What’s your story? What brought you to AHOY and where were you before?

I was in recruitment for the creative industry for three years, two of those at my own company—before that I was in branding. While working in recruitment, I realised it wasn’t my passion. I wanted to get back into the world of marketing, but I wasn’t sure how or where I was going to fit in. Branding was my preference, but there aren’t loads of good quality branding agencies out there.

I knew Mark before I came here—he was a familiar face in the industry, so when we spoke about this opportunity, everything just came together: great company, branding, Manchester, just round the corner from my house…which is great!

I joined the business because I could see myself making a difference. That’s always what spurs me on: I like to be able to make an impression quite quickly.

What does a typical day / week at AHOY look like for you?

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a typical day or week, but that’s a good thing. The recruitment industry is regimented, scheduled, almost military. It’s process-led, and I do like that—it appeals to the organisational side of me—and I’ve brought those skills with me. What’s refreshing is coming to an industry where you don’t know what to expect each week. You can plan to an extent, but then a new enquiry comes in, or we have to be reactive or proactive at looking at new business stuff…you often think you’re going to have a quiet day and then something comes out of nowhere and throws everything up in the air. It keeps you moving.

Does that need for agility excite you?

We’re in a phase where there’s room for a lot more order and processes, but that needs to be implemented in a way that won’t stifle anyone’s creativity. The prospect of designing and implementing those processes excites me—it’ll improve the efficiency of the business. The processes are there to better facilitate the fun stuff.

Building on that, what does good account direction look like to you?

It’s about building rapport in relationships, helping us to become a trusted agency, which will give us more creative freedom. I want to be the person who listens to businesses, and their problems and ideas, and advises openly rather than trying to put people in a box right away.

Being an account director is about nurturing a relationship and giving everyone at the agency the tools and time they need to create the kind of work we want to. It’s also about asking difficult questions, pushing back when you need to, and ensuring the company delivers on time and is profitable.

Describe yourself at work in three words

Focused, relaxed and pragmatic.

Describe yourself at home in three words

Probably the complete opposite! Unfocused, fidgety, and a procrastinator!

If someone’s wondering whether AHOY’s going to be the right agency for them, what would you say?

It depends what they want to achieve. They need to have the right vision: creative freedom, openness in terms of what we can bring to the table, trust in our design and strategic expertise. And if they don’t want a rush job or a cheap job, and they’re actually proud of what they’re trying to deliver, then we’re going to be able to do good work. Anything short of that is a compromise, but it’s doable.

Who would you say we’re not a good fit for?

Anyone that’s unreasonably time precious, expects something for nothing, isn’t clear about their business objectives, or isn’t happy to go through the process of understanding that with us, and anyone who’s not proud of the product or services they deliver.

What’s the best bit of your job?

I like taking that consultant role: being able to cast new eyes on a project, bringing an outside perspective, wrestling with a client’s business needs and offering solutions to their problems. Having the value of being a solution is a nice feeling, but being able to speak and think in quite a lot of depth in terms of business, branding and design never gets old: it’s such a rich, constantly evolving field. It’s incredibly interesting to keep having these conversations. Having run my own business for a while, having these conversations with loads of entrepreneurs, it’s fascinating to see their problems and their visions and try to shape those into something I can see would be a solution.

Where can you be found when you’re not here at AHOY?

Looking after my two little cats at home: Phoebe and Annabelle. Otherwise, just the usual: going out with friends, playing squash, watching football when it’s on—that’s it, really!

Tell us something about yourself people might be surprised by.

My middle names: Matthew Smith is pretty bland but my middle names are Frewen and Bosanko. Bosanko is my mum’s maiden name, and Frewen is passed down on my dad’s side. I do have a bit of a weird phobia but I’m not keen on talking about it…it’s anything to do with belly buttons: touching them, anything in them, anything to do with them. I have a strong dislike for them; they really upset me!

Any final words?

Write something nice about me. Photoshop my words, effectively, and don’t talk about anything that’ll make me look bad. I’d better shut up now.