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Why can't there be a female Martin Sorrell?: Lindsay Pattison CEO Maxus Worldwide

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Why can't there be a female Martin Sorrell?: Lindsay Pattison CEO Maxus Worldwide

“It’s brilliant, it’s amazing. I am really honoured” says Lindsay Pattison on being the sole global female leader at Maxus and the source of ‘diversity’ at global executive committee meetings in her own words.

Pattison is launching various initiatives to further foster and nurture women leadership at Maxus, like Walk the Talk’, a firm believer in being ambitious and leading from the front. Pattison believes that Maxus India is self-sustained; not only in terms of size, but it scores quite high in terms of qualitative skills, and is a star rated agency that has outplayed other markets in terms of qualitative skills.

Excerpts from a chat with Lindsay Pattison – CEO Maxus Worldwide on getting Maxus into the global top ten agency list in two years, raising successors, being ambitious while being  collaborative and more………………..   

In an interview in April 2014, you said you wanted your next job as Global CEO of Maxus. In October 2014, you got the role you wanted. Whats next for you from here?

I said it without realizing how ambitious that sounded. Though I think there is nothing wrong in being ambitious. I think being ambitious is good and any leader should be ambitious. I am really enjoying the role. It is almost a year and a half, so there is still lots to do. Maxus has been very successful for the last six years as a global network but there is still more to do. We could be better known. We need to grow and produce good work to the standards that we do in India, all across the world. I still require to- do a lot as Global CEO of Maxus. Ultimately, you look upto your boss's boss, and your boss's boss's boss.

So why can’t there be a female Martin Sorrel in the future?

What is your target goal for Maxus?

We still are outside the top 10 globally according to figures. I would like us to be in the top 10 and I hope we would get there in two years. That is a very distinct goal and I do think our business would have changed enormously in 2 to 3 years as we move more to a programmatic world and the way we structure and hire talents which will be quite different and an exciting journey but it will be hard to say precisely what Maxus will look like, we continually evolve and will continue to do so.

You said why can’t there be a female Martin Sorrell, so what are you doing to get there?

I am listening and learning. I lean hard into GroupM and WPP and try to understand the breadth of work, the business of ‘now’ versus the business of ‘future.’ And there are many other fantastic female role models in WPP. Also I think understanding; to know how to be a nice person and being humble and say, “Help me out” or “Can I ask your point of view. These are very personal and human skills that lead us today and make us much more human as leaders who focus more on collaboration, counsel, mediation, seeking feedback, giving feedback, just being really open and honest. More importantly collaborating doesn’t mean compromise, it just means getting better solutions. And I think understanding and working hard within WPP is a huge opportunity.

You have spoken in the past about how important, it is for current leaders to identify and train their successors. Have you been able to do that?

Well, there are two types of leaders. There are leaders that work with people who are less better than they are, which makes them look impressive and they keep their jobs. Then there are others who keep absolutely brilliant people around them. On my global executive committee there are 11 of us, I would say at least 4 of them could do my job. May be not as well as me though (laughs).

What is the kind of growth you are looking at for your goal for Maxus to be counted among top ten agencies globally ?

We are looking at minimum 20 per cent growth in two years to get us up. We should be a top 10 agency in two years.

How does a Global CEO like you strike a work- life balance?

I think it’s very hard to separate a blue hat when you go to the office and a red hat when you come home and that’s quite challenging. So, you have to show your full self at work in order to be the best person you possibly can. It can be hard to turn off. Now that I am global, there is someone always awake and active in the world therefore I have to figure out when I feel I can comfortably relax and switch off.  The trick to that is, knowing that you have got brilliant colleagues who you can trust that they will work together without you, when you are unavailable. No one person can control everything.

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