Meet ZenithOptimedia’s Gerry Boyle

Earlier this year, ZenithOptimedia moved worldwide managing partner and chairman for ZenithOptimedia UK to lead its APAC operations as chairman. An old hand with the agency after 14 years, Boyle moved to the role in August this year.

Marketing catches up with Boyle to find out more about the man.

Describe your management style?

Open and collaborative but ultimately decisive. It’s been described as a democratic autocracy. It’s so important to take different perspectives but then to make a call. I also think it’s important to lead from the front and be involved in the work every day. It’s not acceptable to ask people to do things which you’re not prepared to do yourself.

Career path?

I joined Leo Burnett as a media assistant and experienced the spectrum of buying, planning and lots and lots of administrative work. Then I joined Michaelides & Bednash as a media strategist and learned from the master George Michaelides for three years. I have been with ZenithOptimedia since 1999 and have had many experiences working with brilliant people every day for 14 years. I have been lucky in that my boss, Steve King, has given me so many different opportunities. I have led the planning function and was then trusted to help run the agency as managing director. I then went to London Business School before becoming the UK CEO. After six great years in that role, I became global managing partner, responsible for business development and then was given this fantastic role in Asia.

Your first job?

I was invited for a 3-week placement at Leo Burnett straight from University, following which they offered me a job as a media assistant. I feel lucky to have spent my formative years in a full service agency environment, and at Leo Burnett. The culture of Burnett is so strong I still have a book of 100 Leo quotes on my desk today. The value of client service, focus on brand and consumer and the appreciation of creativity is something we need to ensure lives on in the various agencies we all work in today.

Who was the mentor who most influenced you and why? 

I have been lucky enough to have too many to name, and too much respect for them all to choose. I have also been influenced by and have learned something from literally everyone I have worked with so far.

Proudest moment in your career

Watching people learn, grow, develop and succeed.

Your biggest blunder in your career

Not learning enough from my many mistakes and maybe not coming to Asia the first time I was asked.

When you’re not working, what will you be doing, aside from spending time with the family?

I love to walk my dog on Sentosa Beach. She’s great company, a good listener and she almost always agrees with me.

Harshest thing said to you in your career

“Not good enough.”

When you were a newbie in the industry, did you dream you would be CEO one day? What kind of CEO did you want to be and how closely have you stuck to it?

I have always simply tried to work hard and to do my very best in any of the roles that I have had so far, and have been ‘new’ in so many of them across the years. It is important to make any role your own, rather than corresponding to a particular type. That is what makes our business so interesting – so many people from so many backgrounds doing things their own way.

Craziest thing your staff has told you

“If I’d known you were going to review that piece of work I’d have tried much harder.”

One thing you would say to a newbie in the industry


What’s the toughest thing about your job?

Not being able to be in two places at once.

One thing you hate most about the industry

That the economic value we create for our clients’ businesses is rarely recognized or rewarded to the extent that it should be.

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