Who is TBD?

Thank you for being here. My name is Bruce, and this is my story.

(4 minute read)

I’m Scottish. Well, a Scottish London Angeleno hybrid. That brings with it a strong work ethic, a love of noisy cities, culture and arts and all things creative, and most recently a new found love of sunshine, avocados and hot sauce.

I started my career over 30 years ago at Harrods, London, as a management trainee, quickly rising to the role of Head of HR for the company at 25 years old. I spent 20 years of my career in HR which might seem like a strange choice for a self-professed creative, but I have always thrived on opportunities to evolve, innovate or reinvent and HR at the time was (and mostly still is) in need of a new, more focused and commercial approach.

 I called this business TBD for that reason. To be developed, to be determined, to be decided – I have always gone into businesses and sought out the potential for growth, for evolution or change to elevate and unlock the potential within.

10 years into my career, I was approached to work for a relatively new business called Pret a Manger. I initially rejected the approach as the food sector was not known for being progressive in employment practices but after meeting with the new CEO, and the founders, and being given the opportunity to “throw out the old rule book on HR and reinvent it”, who could resist?

It was at Pret that I realized the power of a strong company culture and its role in driving business performance. Culture is an intricate, detailed force within a business, and it is woven into behaviors, and traditions, and how a business is designed. If well designed and maintained it is the immune system of a business and is a critical part of delivering on brand promise and company strategy.

Culture can help businesses to grow (Pret) but it can also help troubled businesses to transform (Levi’s). It can help create and foster the right conditions for creativity and innovation (ITV and ITV Studios) much as the wrong culture can destroy them.

The work we did at Pret won many awards and much recognition but most importantly it significantly improved the experience of the people who worked at Pret, and in turn improved and delivered the brand experience for Pret’s customers. After all, the right culture should motivate employees to deliver on your brand promise – otherwise you do not have the right culture. And in 2020 your brand and your culture are intertwined like never before. e

My time at ITV plc helped me to really understand the connection between culture and creativity. I have always been a creative person and I was thrilled to be approached to head up HR for ITV Studios globally. For me it was a chance to combine my love for creativity with everything I had learnt about company culture. There was a lot of work that went into changing many aspects of the culture to unlock and enhance the creative side of the business. Some of the work included changing the design of the business, changing the focus on the skills and training for key development roles, and bringing in a culture of inspiration and even a little science (I mean, there is a wealth of understanding in how creativity works in the brain yet so few companies use this to their advantage).

This work led to ITV plc allowing me to conduct deep and significant research into how other companies in other industries approached creativity and innovation. We spoke to companies ranging from Apple to 3M, to WPP, to Whirlpool, Disney, GE, Pfizer and more. The key aim was to supercharge the creative culture within the entire business of ITV plc and look for ways to help future proof the business through innovation of product and content. This then led to the creation and launch of ITV Imagine. An innovation unit (that I continued to “grandfather” after its launch) that combined the skills of account planning, insights and research, content development and ideation. This was a combination of skills that had never existed in one unit, in this way, before.

The unit was focused on transforming the creative culture of the business by creating a common language amongst the network buyers, the sales teams and the content development teams. It created a ripple effect of creativity and innovation across ITV by running multiple creative workshops using ideation models honed and perfected by FMCG companies like Unilever, Diageo, P&G and more to generate new and innovative content ideas as well as focused ideas for the entire business to break into new markets or reinvent existing products and models.

The success of ITV Imagine and the overall work completed in ITV helped to shift my career and led to a unique transition out of HR and into a senior creative executive role. In 2011, I made the move to LA to become EVP of Creative Strategy – running the entire content development team for ITV Studios America.  While the idea of an HR leader moving into a senior creative role was a shock to some (and initially for me), it was an opportunity to put my money where my mouth was and show that a focus on creative strategy, culture, insights, leadership, organization design, inspiration and innovation could help to transform creative teams and businesses – all businesses.

Did it work? Yes. Within 3 years ITV Studios America had grown its revenue by 300%. We significantly increased the number of networks we were in business with from 10 networks to 34 and greatly expanded the range of genres we produced in.

All in all, over the last 10 years I have overseen the development and sales of over 75 series, pilots, specials and presentations. Most recently by partnering with Ava DuVernay on a groundbreaking new series I created about the magic of filmmaking – “One Perfect Shot”– for HBO Max.

As I mentioned before, I have always thrived on opportunities to evolve, innovate or reinvent and I believe now is the right time to bring all of the things I’ve learnt and experienced together into TBD. To launch during the worst public health and economic crisis may seem odd but right now we need culture, creativity and innovation linked to strategy and business performance now more than ever.

Thank you for taking the time to read this introduction! (Seriously. Thank you).

Please do give me a call to talk through any way in which I may be able to help your business right now: +1 818 219 8784. Or email me at bruce@whoistbd.com

Thank you. Bruce