Having spent the last 8 and a half years building our technology department from the ground up, our Creative Technology Director Hils is one of the best-known and most-loved faces in our London office. Renowned for his colourful shirts and innovative thinking, throughout lockdown Hils nobly stepped up to the role of agency-quiz master and hosted a series of wonderful and whacky virtual quizes at our Summer and Halloween parties.
Get to know him a little better below...
What are your pronouns?
What type of work experiences did you have prior to joining The Marketing Store?
Before The Marketing Store, I worked up the ranks at the ENGINE Group in their ATL agency, WCRS. I started as the team lead of Web Development, heading up projects for Sony and Apple. I left forming the first Creative Technology team in the whole group leading to award wins in innovation and gaming just before my departure. Prior to this, I graduated in mechanical engineering and then switched to coding to co-found an online greetings card business. I would have loved to have said that we sold it off and now own islands off the Fijian coast, but...
What’s in your headphones currently?
With Hospitality in the Park being cancelled in 2020, I've been attempting to recreate the festival vibe with drum and bass sets on Soundcloud. Currently, the sounds of Friction's breaks and the beats are keeping me in my happy place. Highly recommended if you need to lose yourself in a few hours of technical document writing.
And I've also recently discovered a fresh, new podcast that launched last October, Tech Wrap Queen. Renee Reid talks all things tech, design and culture with an amazing and truly diverse group of people. So far, so cool!
Describe The Marketing Store in one word:
Since we're in the era of lockdown marketing where new words are now a free for all, I'm going to say: Oppotential (opportunity and potential.)
During your time at The Marketing Store, what piece of work are you most proud of?
Wow, this is a tough one. There have been many over the years, all with different merits and nuances. If I had to pick just the one, I think it would be the adidas Predator 2017 project. We were given just 2 weeks to build and program a motion controller chip that we then put into an adidas boot that would then interact with a piece of motion (that had yet to be conceived) for an in-store activation. I was dubious that it could be done but I had the impetus to make it happen. It was one of those perfect storms in a career where a project merges adrenalin, innovation and creativity with a lean and talented team. The camaraderie and the sense of achievement felt throughout the project, plus the foundations we built for future work left a mark of pride in my The Marketing Store lifetime.
What would the title of your autobiography be?
A Person of Colour. (but this is more of a wardrobe-ography)
Which person (dead or alive) would you most like to be stuck in an elevator with?
Ferran Adriá - Ferran and Steve Jobs are 2 of my favourite industry changing creatives, with Ferran being more of a personable human. I've read the books, seen the movies, I've cooked his food, gone to the exhibitions, but I've never had him, nor his chefs cook for me. Dinner in an elevator with Ferran, I'll take it! Or I'd take a helping of conversation, with a pinch of his genius and a full glass of my awe with the man that has changed gastronomy forever.
(if I were allowed to pick a fictional character, it would be Batman because... it's Batman.)
What's the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
I'm not sure if it's the best advice, but this is the advice that has stuck with me from the first agency I worked at in the mid 2000s. It was a time when there was a trend of small digital agencies being acquired by large traditional advertising groups and we were due to be swallowed by a bigger fish. I managed to catch-up and talk about the acquisition with my boss at the time who said, "I don't know whether my job is safe and you should feel the same." Whilst this was not tactful, by no way did I ever feel that this was a scaremongering tactic. He was simply being honest in a tumultuous time. I didn't think my job was at risk, but it was definitely a motivating factor for a career of not being stagnant. There is always something new to do, something to say, something to improve, something to see/hear, something to play. Which reminds me of a contrasting piece of great advice the same boss gave me... "Go and play some pool".
What’s your current side hustle?
I can't believe I don't have one, yet. I have an ideas notebook which I write in whenever I think I have a good idea; where the frequency of ideas written are inversely proportional to years lived. The "potential hustles" in the book range from writing children’s stories, to starting a clothing brand to getting a patent on a new product. But the book is a curse. I should (and will) focus on one idea from it and then throw it out. So watch this space, and lookout for a flying notebook.