Hires, Wins & Business in association withLBB Pro

Mr President Looks to the Future with Two Recent Promotions

Advertising Agency
London, UK
The newly promoted Mizzy Lees, managing director, and Lillie Price, head of account management, tell LBB how the company nurtured their leadership skills and what about their new roles excites them most

Promotions are always a cause for celebration. Mr President, an independent London-based creative agency, is celebrating twice, having recently promoted Mizzy Lees from people director to Mr President's first ever managing director, and Lillie Price from business director to head of account management. 

Mizzy’s career path to the role of MD is a non-traditional one. She started out in account management before working in HR and operations. She used the experience to really understand the needs of both clients and the people who fulfil those needs, learning how to balance the two. With a laser focus on making office life as positive as possible, Mizzy helped institute a fully flexible work-from-home policy months before the pandemic (and ensured that everyone knew that they were welcome to use it, not just the parents) which meant that the company was in a much better position than many when everyone went into lockdown. Looking ahead, Mizzy is already thinking about the best ways to support the team, emotionally and financially, amid soaring inflation, with a clear view that company culture is so much more than the motivation words on the wall - “It’s a feeling you have when you come into work, it’s the joy you get when making something brilliant together, and the support you feel when it gets hard.”

Lillie came to Mr P from the big agency world and found the autonomy and freedom she was always looking for. With guidance from Claire Hynes, CEO and founder, Lillie says she was “fully supported; that’s what gave me the confidence to grow in my role.” She attended the Marketing Academy in 2021, which gave her an arsenal of tools to step into a senior leadership role while teaching her how to ensure that she’s inspiring and nurturing a generation of leaders too. She’s incredibly excited to help her team and clients set the right goals first, before smashing them all. 

Below, Mizzy and Lillie tell LBB all about their journeys to the promotions, how Mr President supported them along the way, and how they plan on making the most in their new roles.

LBB> Mizzy, until recently your title was people director at Mr. President. You don’t come from a traditional HR background - what kind of approach did you take to your role? What kind of principles did you use to guide you?

Mizzy> I started my career in account management, worked my way up the ranks before sidestepping to HR and ops. My ‘front line’ experience meant I understood what it was like to be in the thick of client work, and what you really need to do your job well, and enjoy it at the same time. That has continued to be my guiding principle - how can I make this experience really positive for my team. Not just fun, but worthwhile, progressive and satisfying.

LBB> Mizzy, you’ve recently been promoted to MD, and Lillie you’ve recently been promoted from business director to head of account management. How has your role evolved and how does it now fit into the wider team?

Mizzy> Mr. President is a people-led business - the creative and strategic brains of our team are our product. In my previous role as people director my focus was to champion people at all times, and I'm carrying that through to this role too. But the remit goes wider now - to the way we operate, the way we behave and the decisions we make. I’m also 100% focussed on running our business, rather than being dragged into every new business pitch, which ensures that our ways of working, our culture, our effectiveness and our efficiency are all always given priority.

Lillie> I’m making the move from chief vibe-setter on my accounts, to chief vibe-setter for all the account handlers and business leads at Mr. President. Obviously, that’s not the official job description, but the move over to Head of Account Management means I’ll be able to set the direction and tone for how we handle all business coming through the doors here at Mr. P. 

LBB> How did Mr. President nurture and encourage your growth from one role to the new one?

Mizzy> A huge part of our culture is encouraging personal growth. Each of the team has their own development diary and is encouraged to review and update it regularly. For me personally, there were points in my career when I knew I was ready to do more – after having my second baby I made the decision to focus on HR, and then again when I was ready to work full time and pursue the MD role. I have a very open relationship with our CEO Claire and at both points we mapped out what each role meant and how they would benefit the business. She gave me the freedom, support and encouragement to take on more responsibility.

Lillie> I cut my teeth at Mullen Lowe where I learnt all the fundamentals you need to be a successful suit, then when I got to Mr. P, Claire Hynes (CEO and founder) gave me the longest leash. From day one I had so much autonomy on my accounts. It’s that heady mix of being accountable, but also knowing that I am fully supported should there be any kinks in the road. That’s what gave me the confidence to grow in my role. 

Beyond that, the power of Mr. P. is in our size. We’re a small independent, but every single person is amazingly driven, and there’s a very entrepreneurial spirit that runs through the agency. The founders are great at spotting people’s strengths, calling them out, and finding opportunities for us to use these in our day-to-day working lives.

LBB> Lillie, you attended the Marketing Academy in 2021, which aims to develop the skills needed in senior and board-level roles. What was that experience like?

Lillie> My nickname for the Marketing Academy is the Marketing Cult…but in the best, most loving way! You hear a lot of the alumni describe the experience as ‘life changing’, but it really was. It was nine months of professional, and sometimes personal, therapy. The experience has fundamentally changed my perspective on what it means to be a leader and given me an arsenal of tools to help pay that learning forward.  

One of the Marketing Academy’s mantras is that the mark of a great leader is not about how good you are as an individual, but how many leaders you develop. So that’s what I’ll be holding myself accountable to as I settle into my new role as head of account management. 

LBB> Now that you’re in a senior leadership role, how will you be helping to nurture the next generation of leaders?

Mizzy> I will continue to encourage and support our team to take responsibility for their own personal growth. We want to give them the tools to drive their own career forward, not wait for a seat to become available or be invited to the party. We encourage them to set realistic goals for the short and the long term, and be honest about where they want to go and what they want to do, even if it's to a role we can’t cater for. We can then support them on their journey.

Lillie> I want everyone on my team to have ownership of their personal development and really get to grips with what gives them energy. I’m putting together a mini programme of workshops for my team centred around articulating their strengths, getting to know their core values, and properly getting to grips with why giving and receiving feedback is the breakfast of champions. 

I believe the better you know yourself, the more authenticity you’ll have as a leader. The more ‘authentic’ you are, the deeper the connections will be that you make with others. The better the connections you have with teams and clients alike, the better the work will be. 

LBB> Mr. P instituted a flexible working policy months before the pandemic. What was the thinking behind that? Do you feel that the company was better prepared for the WFH mandate due to this?

Mizzy> We have always worked flexibly at Mr. P. It’s in our DNA, mostly due to our CEO having always juggled family life alongside leading the business. It was really important to us to ensure it wasn’t just a ‘mum thing’ though, so we wrote it down officially so everyone could use it. It definitely meant we were better equipped to work from home during the pandemic and we adapted quickly. We have now found our zen with a 2/3 hybrid model with flexibility for those who want to do more or less.

LBB> Mr. P has a great culture and positive working environment. How are you working to continue maintaining it and driving it forward?

Mizzy> Culture isn’t words in a document or painted on a wall. It’s a feeling you have when you come into work, it’s the joy you get when making something brilliant together, and the support you feel when it gets hard, it’s wanting to have lunch/beers/coffee/dinner together. There are so many nuances to nurturing this experience – my priorities are keeping an open dialogue with the team, maintaining a healthy work/life balance for everyone, supporting their personal growth and doing my best to make sure they enjoy being at Mr. P.

LBB> What are some of the key cultural concerns on your radar and how are you planning to address them?

Mizzy> My biggest concern right now is the scary recession ahead of us. It will impact businesses and personal lives, just like the pandemic did. The good news is we’re getting some notice this time round, so it’s important that we prepare ourselves for what might be ahead. My focus is supporting the team as much as we can financially and emotionally, maintaining a healthy and cautious balance sheet and a fruitful new biz pipeline.

LBB> What are you looking forward to most with this promotion?

Mizzy> I’m excited about all the new things I'm learning and the new ways I'm using my brain. There were all these things on the periphery of my people director role that I didn’t get to unpick and now I’m getting stuck into them. I’m also working more closely with new people, like Lillie, our new head of account management. Having us both in new roles has brought new energy to the management team which is always exciting and progressive.

Lillie> Clearly defining the vision for account management as Mr. President, setting goals for the department, then inspiring everyone on the team to smash them. It’s such a privilege to be responsible for helping equip my team with the tools they need to lead each piece of business with energy. All with the ultimate goal of forging deep, trusting relationships with our clients so that together we can get the most impactful and creative work out into the world… and have some fun whilst we’re doing it.