With an interesting background spanning particle physics, games design and marketing, Ian LeBruce talks to BQ about work-life balance, mentors and his heroes.
What is it the company does?
We’re a digitally-led branding and creative agency working across a variety of sectors including food and drink, tourism and hospitality, property, oil and gas, insurance, healthcare and education. Our primary focus is to help companies position themselves with strategic branding and inspire them to grow to their full potential through engaging communications and creative content.
Based in Edinburgh, we work with clients from across Scotland, the wider UK and overseas.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
Direction of the business. My approach is to first assess all the options available to us and weigh up the pros and cons of each, before setting the course of direction and executing. I’m focused on the growth of the business both in terms of our team (including external partners) plus the sectors we’re operating in. My job is to also make sure Ignite is a fun and inspiring place to work. I want to always ensure everybody is clear on why we do what we do through building relationships across the team and with our clients.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
Before launching my own business, Cappuccino Ads in 2013, I did a Masters degree in particle physics and spent time working at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva. A keen gamer, I was fortunate to land a job with 4J Studios working on the console editions of Minecraft and with Rockstar Games on Grand Theft Auto V. While running Cappuccino Ads, I was appointed as marketing director with Adopt an Intern, Scotland’s top graduate recruitment organisation and as CMO of BuilderStorm, a software company in the construction industry, both on one-year contracts. These gave me the opportunity to use my skills in sectors that I was unfamiliar with, and ultimately set me up well to run Ignite.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Someone who inspires and allows for an inclusive working environment where everyone feels valued and empowered. Elon Musk is a great example, I see him as a highly individual person who always stays true to his values and has a willingness to try things without a fear of failure. Coming from a gaming background has probably pushed me in this way – keep trying until you get the result you are after!
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Having come in as marketing director before moving over to managing director, it’s been challenging to balance both roles while finding someone to come in and help with the marketing. We are one of the longest established and well-respected creative agencies in Scotland, recently marking our 20-year anniversary. Naturally, the business has evolved over time, particularly with the continued rise of digital, so providing a wide-ranging number of services and client support to reflect this change means asking a lot more questions to determine the best approach and deliver the best results.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I go to the gym and have a personal trainer. I’m constantly working towards my personal fitness goals across several disciplines. This includes yoga for focus and relaxation. If everything gets too much, I’ll escape to my favourite café and play Pokemon.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A Formula 1 driver. I’ve always been attracted to speed and the engineering of the cars. My mum was always a fan and got me doing driving at places like Knockhill which I thoroughly enjoyed. David Coulthard was my childhood hero and role model and it was actually him that made me realise that a kid from Scotland could do something on the world stage.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
An environment where employees feel stifled and restricted. I’m a strong believer in having an open environment where anyone can share their ideas at any time. That way we can throw it open across the team and pull value from it.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
With the continued rise and impact of digital, we’re firmly focused on expanding our digital division with further plans underway for offering more specialised creative support to clients over the next five years. Content for social media, particularly video, is a growth area so we’re always looking at new creative ideas to help our clients to leverage their brand and messaging online.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Get a strong team of mentors in place. By this, I mean a mentor who knows you really well as a person as well as somebody who knows the business and sector inside out. Learn from their experience and mistakes. This will speed up the business growth process and also have an impartial and vital third-party perspective.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Be sure you make time in your diary to enjoy life. To some people that could sound indulgent. But from my experience, this allows me to work at max capacity and operate more efficiently because I feel fully refreshed and empowered.
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