Meet the MD: Gillian Godsell, Exterion Media

Gillian Godsell

Meet the MD: Gillian Godsell, Exterion Media

Leading the Scottish team at advertising company Exterion Media, it’s no surprise that communication is right at the top of Gillian Godsell’s leadership list…

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

My role as a country director is to lead Exterion Media’s Scottish sales and marketing strategy, to strengthen relationships with franchise partners, build a talent pipeline and act as an ambassador for Exterion Media in Scotland. Having recently been appointed the official media partner for Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), my focus will be on working with the franchise partners to drive innovation through the estate, modernising the Glasgow Subway and improving the customer experience and environment.

What is it the company does?

Exterion Media is the largest privately held out-of-home advertising company in the UK and the market leader in outdoor advertising on transport networks throughout Scotland. We are responsible for media opportunities across all four metro systems in the UK: Newcastle, Liverpool, London and Glasgow.

We provide opportunities for advertisers to reach and engage with the UK’s urban audiences through our world-class media estate. This includes bus, underground, rail and retail advertising.

With operations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, the Netherlands and Spain, Exterion Media works with a global portfolio of partners to engage and deliver audiences on a local and multi-country scale.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

On leaving school I went to work for Touche Ross and a company, which is now Deloitte, where I worked in the tax department. From there I moved to NWS Bank, which is part of the Bank of Scotland Group, selling financial services for two years.  I then moved to the Scotsman Publications as an account manager (for the Evening News, Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday), where I progressed to group head of the Evening News team. I joined Exterion Media, which at the time was called TDI Advertising, in 1998.

What do you believe makes a great leader?

I believe good leaders are great communicators who set a vision with a strong sense of purpose, clear direction, and with the right destination. The ability to lead effectively is based on a number of key skills of which I believe the following are crucial: transparency, passion, patience, accountability and integrity.

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Recently I worked on Exterion’s bid for the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport contract. Every year SPT operations oversee 33 million journeys across Glasgow and the deal signals an exciting new period of growth for Glasgow transport systems and reaffirms our investment in Scotland. We’re incredibly excited for the contract to commence!

One of my most rewarding challenges has been to ensure we have the best talent in our team. Once we have great talent in the business, we ensure that we give them the support, development and positive working environment they need to flourish.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I alleviate stress by prioritising my responsibilities so I have a clear idea of what needs to be done, which helps me effectively manage the pressure of the job. I try wherever possible to react to situations rather than to stress; that way the situation is handled evenly, and doesn't become too stressful.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a pilot.

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?  

It’s a simple matter of using your common sense and behaving in a manner that shows courtesy and respect for others. Wherever possible we ensure a positive upbeat environment where negativity isn’t welcome.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

Outdoor advertising is no longer just about static posters. We are moving to a place where automated systems are creating more efficiency and flexibility that will allow advertisers to create more contextual and relevant campaigns for consumers. According to the latest figures from PwC, 42% of the global out of home ad spend will be digital by 2020. I have no doubt the Exterion Media’s offering will be even more digital and data-driven five years down the road.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

1.       Continually challenge yourself

2.       Have a vision

3.       Build a great team

4.       Know your goals

5.       Know your consumer