Ogilvy: Julian Ribeiro

Ogilvy: Julian Ribeiro


What were your goals when you took up the position of MD at Ogilvy Johannesburg in 2006?

Initially my goal was to listen and try to understand what it is that has made Ogilvy the company it is today, so that we could bring added focus to that. What emerged is that Ogilvy is about more than just advertising; it’s about liberating brands to make a real impact on a company’s bottom line. Coupled with that is the fact that the company liberates talent in its people. All of this existed before I arrived, but my goal has been to institutionalise the liberation of brand and talent so that it’s central to the way we think about our culture here.

What are you most proud of having achieved?

Seeing the fruits of this institutionalisation, and watching both brands and Ogilvy people grow, develop and achieve success.
I’m also very proud of one campaign in particular that the company worked on for Channel O, called “Young, Gifted and Black”. It won a Grand Prix at the Loeries but what was more gratifying was seeing the way it captured the spirit of young people in South Africa and Africa. And it was incredibly rewarding to see the young, black and gifted talent from Ogilvy going up there to collect the award.

What is one of the more difficult experiences you’ve had in your career?

Working in the UK as worldwide account director for Sony PlayStation and being confronted with some nasty politics. It reinforced my belief that politics is awful and destructive, but also reminded me about the importance of continuing to believe in yourself.

What do you think is the mark of a good leader?

Humility and valuing the importance of building a great team. Energy and passion is also incredibly important – you have to be a believer in what you’re doing in order to lead other people.

What do you admire most about entrepreneurs?

Everything! They epitomise some of the things I admire most in great leaders, namely their unwavering belief in what they are doing and the path they are walking. I admire their bravery and incredible staying power in the face of adversity. And then of course, their hard work – they have to get involved in every single facet of the business.

2009 was a tough year for many. How is 2010 panning out?

It was a tough year but it was also a great year – we ended up winning the Adfocus Agency of the Year and were both lucky and successful in signing on great new business. Now that we’re into 2010, I feel incredibly upbeat about the year ahead, particularly about the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the work we are doing both on the World Cup, and for other clients who are gearing up for the event and the visitors it is going to bring to the country. However, I’m aware that this is no time to rest on our laurels. Hard work lies ahead!

What’s your personal motto or mantra?

Stay hungry, stay humble, stay focused.

Juliet Pitman
Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.