Cressida Holmes-Smith

Meet the MD

What it's like to be MD of Lucky Generals: "We're all Generals; there isn't a hierarchy"

Having studied art in Paris, Cressida Holmes-Smith now combines her creative skills with people management, finance and pitching

By creative salon

Cressida Holmes-Smith, a former member of Ogilvy’s Fellowship graduate scheme, joined Lucky Generals in April 2018. She quickly rose from business director to client director before becoming joint head of account management in July 2020.

In January 2021 she was promoted to managing director with responsibility for overseeing the development of its UK staff as well as diversity initiatives and much more. We caught up with her to find out more about her career to date, her current role and her ambitions for the future.

How did you get into advertising?

I started out doing work experience at JWT Paris. I had been at art school in Paris and was desperate to get back there, but not desperate enough that I'd live on the streets as an unpaid artist. So, advertising seemed like a good compromise.

What does your current role entail?

It's mainly people management, with some finance, plenty of client work and a bit of pitching. Plus, a lot of trusting myself and having fun, so that others can do the same.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

I enjoy problem solving and helping people to be able to do their best work.

And what would you like to change?

The Prime Minister. We're currently working with the Labour Party so that would be a pretty great achievement. But in my role... I know I need to share and delegate more given I am surrounded by such brilliant people.

What does having founders hands on in the business mean for you?

I get to learn first-hand every day from the very best in the industry, but I'm also learning to challenge them more as I grow, and the business grows - which they very much want and encourage.

What's the best thing about working for Lucky Generals?

That we're all Generals; there isn't the same hierarchy as there is in the more traditional or bigger agencies, and we don't like to take ourselves too seriously.

What are you personally most proud of at work?

I'm most proud of our creative output; that's what it's all about at the end of the day. In particular, work that is creating social impact. But that doesn’t mean it has to be worthy - as shown in our recent work for Virgin Atlantic, The Gym Group and Symprove. I’m also proud of our progressive policies, such as our menopause and miscarriage policies.

What advice would you have for people joining the industry?

Look for an agency where you can truly be yourself and whose values match yours. There are so many out there, each very different in terms of culture and output. At Lucky Generals, we’re keen for growth both personally and as a business, but even as we look forward to our 10th year, we’ll never be keen on growing up.

Where would you like your career to go next?

It will be the Lucky General's 10th Anniversary next year, so I'd like to think about the next ten lucky years and how the next generation of Generals can all be empowered to shape the agency together.

How do you unwind?

I read books. Sometimes even written by our own Generals - which is where I shoehorn in a nice plug for our FD, James B. Mylet's 'The Homes', and Andy Nairn's 'Go Luck Yourself'.


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