meet the MD
What it's like to be managing partner at Goodstuff: "I try and constructively challenge and probe"
Genevieve Tompkins enjoys the ability to fix problems and find or create solutions, as well as pitch for new business
27 October 2022
Genevieve Tompkins joined Goodstuff as a member of its partner board (it doesn't have anyone in the MD position) in 2019, having started her career at John Ayling & Associates where she became a staunch independent agency advocate, having also worked at The Kite Factory (formerly MC&C).
She has worked extensively with travel and charity brands, (achievements including leading the team responsible for scaling one of the largest and most successful charity DRTV programmes in the UK for Save the Children, and helping grow Macmillan's World's Biggest Coffee Morning event to £25 million income), and has specialist performance media expertise.
Alongside client commitments, she is responsible for Goodstuff's DTC proposition for scale ups. Before Covid, Genevieve gave her time to support Soccer Aid for Unicef in her capacity as voluntary committee member, helping with the organisation of its annual Gala fundraising event.
We talked to Genevieve about her role, how Goodstuff has evolved since its acquisition last year by Stagwell and her advice for people joining the industry.
How did you get into media?
Ha! Not a classic “I fell into it” response for me… After I left university, I continued to work in the healthcare assistant role that I had secured for three years to support my way through university. After a reluctant realisation that this was never going to satisfy the entrepreneurial side of my character, I decided to look for a way into advertising. My father was in the creative side for most of his career, so I was already familiar with the industry. However, he had retired by that point and the media world had moved on. In all honesty, I really did not know where to start… an afternoon spent on Google later and I arranged to meet with Hamblyn Selection. After some direct and helpful guidance from Steve Hyde, I agreed I was better suited to the media side and soon enough I landed a role at the first media independent, John Ayling & Associates in Soho Square. This is where my passion for independent agencies grew and where I learned my craft, which I have to say, was the best training around.
What does your current role entail?
Being a partner means I have responsibilities not just to clients but also to the running and shaping of the agency. I play a “Partner in Charge” role across several clients, meaning I have overall responsibility for the servicing and quality of the work - thankfully made easy by the exceptional teams at Goodstuff who consistently deliver. I try and constructively challenge and probe, pushing us to think bigger, deeper or from different perspectives. Pitching is a core part of my remit, and whilst pitching has undoubtedly worsened over the years from a process and expectation perspective, it still adds the element of freshness that I crave.
What do you enjoy most about your current role?
With seniority comes the ability to fix problems and find or create solutions. This is something that I get a great satisfaction from – whether it be challenges with clients, people or our products. Being able to take a step back and have a horizontal view of the agency is great, allowing for more objective assessments of where we are great and where we can improve. I also love working with growing client businesses. Being a partner and agent in their success story is personally really motivating.
... and what would you like to change?
To create more time! Time to invest in wider industry initiatives and be more active in progressing things that I am passionate about; supporting working parents navigate their world of balancing home and work priorities, amongst others. I really enjoy the strategy of business, researching and thinking about how we need to evolve to futureproof, what alternative agency models could look like… There’s a long list. But fundamentally, I will always love delivering great work for clients and the buzz of seeing our campaigns out there in the world.
What's the difference in working for an owner/founder business than a corporate?
Well, I’ve always worked for founder-run businesses, however I did work within a PE-owned environment for a short while in my role prior to Goodstuff, and now part of Stagwell following our acquisition in Jan ‘22.
The impact of the acquisition, whilst early days, has been nothing but positive from my experience. They are a supportive partner who are there to help us grow, whilst providing opportunity to enhance our offering to clients, both within new products and geographical reach. That’s the great thing about being within a challenger group; there’s no sense of brand or agency compromise, which was so important to us during the search for a partner.
What's the best thing about working for Goodstuff?
Ahh it’s so hard to pick just one thing. Goodstuff has a proper challenger spirit, and I love that. The people are ambitious, creative and collaborative. They truly live our values. And the strength of the brand that Andrew and Ben have built gives us license to be bold in an industry that lacks differentiation. Our dedication to the lifeblood of the agency, our Goodstuffers, is something that has to be mentioned here. I have a hunch that we are one of the most people-focused agencies around, and we do really listen to feedback and adapt.
How has your job changed since the sale to Stagwell?
To date, not significantly. But the journey is bringing exciting change and opportunity. As an SLT, we are collaborating around the core focus of how we bring new opportunities to clients now. It’s been a really interesting period for me, lifting the lid on what Stagwell have to offer and we are busy behind the scenes integrating more data, digital and tech capabilities into the agency that we will be launching very soon! Working alongside our sister agency, Assembly, has been a joy, and I can’t wait to see how things develop both personally and collectively over the coming year(s).
What advice would you have for people joining the industry?
That’s a tough one, particularly as the media landscape and industry culture has changed so much since I joined. If I had to pick a few things… getting under the skin of your client’s audience should always be the priority, and getting comfortable with asking challenging questions. Don’t worry about being perfect and ticking every box; lean into the things you are good at and find an agency that supports you to flourish in the things that give you energy. Good ideas will always win, even if they are braver and more difficult to convince clients on. Have fun – our industry has the power to move people, to help and reward people. Don’t forget that. And build meaningful relationships wherever you go; with clients, with colleagues, media owners, other agencies. It makes the job more enjoyable (plus great for new business…!)
Where would you like your career to go next?
I want to keep learning, regardless of what I am doing. I love the power of knowledge and the depth of understanding that comes with discovering new tools, new ways to look at data or unearth inventive thinking, or new perspectives on audiences. I don’t think I will every stray far from advertising, it’s in my blood!