For anyone unfamiliar with WPP it may come as a surprise that the world’s largest advertising firm started off as Wire and Plastics Products plc, a British company selling wire shopping baskets. Looking for a corporate “shell” in which to grow the business, Martin, formerly finance director at Saatchi & Saatchi, bought a 30% stake in the company in 1985.
He surprised both the communications and business world with a string of major acquisitions, taking over some of the oldest and most prolific advertising companies in the world. By 2013, WPP was employing 162,000 people worldwide and had revenues in excess of £7.5 billion. Martin himself is now thought to have a net worth of £115 million and is the longest-standing FTSE 100 CEO.
“My dad said “find a job you enjoy doing” and I think that’s a critical component. It’s a terrible phrase but “a bad decision on Monday is better than a good decision on Friday”, meaning you should just get on with it and I think that’s really important. It means if someone phones you, phone them back, if someone writes you a note, answer them as quick as you can because they have taken the trouble to write it, don’t ignore them. Those are the sort of things that I think are important”.