Emma’s a leading force in the Entertainment Industry. From her early days answering phones and making coffees, she now heads up one of the world’s leading Talent and Influencer Marketing agencies, ITB Worldwide. In this interview, we see what makes Emma tick and how she sees herself now vs when she was 21.
Where are you working now?
I’m at ITB Worldwide, as Managing Director, running a global team in London, NYC, LA and DC. We are a Talent and Influencer Marketing agency, driven to create impact through influence in everything that we do.
How did you land the job?
I was doing a deal with a celeb and the agent I was working with had heard about an opening. I went to meet with the then MD, Emma Grede (now mega power player co-founder of Good American and backer of Skims).
We had a natter for about half an hour and she offered me the job! Something just clicked. That was 11 years ago… mad where time has gone!
Tell us a bit about your career trajectory?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left uni, but always felt drawn to the entertainment and culture space in some capacity.
I had been a model with Storm Management since my early teens, and already had a good insight into the industry. Problem was I just never grew beyond 5 ft 7, nor was I particularly patient in a hair and make up chair!
I got offered a starter gig as PA at Merlin Elite (now M&CSaatchi Merlin) which was my first foot in the door of the world of entertainment. We repped some brilliant British Talent, and I learnt everything – how to make coffee, how to book a courier, how to move a client’s Lamborghini (it took some questions), how to play golf (to subsequently run Jodie Kidd’s golf days), how to work with people at every different level in every different scenario possible.
Whether I was answering a phone, a runner at an event, or chaperoning talent, you are constantly adapting and changing based on who you are with and I learnt so much.
Following that, I decided working with Talent wasn’t for me and went to a brand partnerships agency for a couple of years but then realised I loved the dynamic that talent brings to the table both in terms of creativity and visibility. So I then joined the team at Finch & Partners running their UK endorsement teams, casting campaigns for the likes of Nintendo, BT, Cartier and others. That was where I really built up my black book of agents and managers globally, doing regular deals with them. This business is all about who you know, and it was at Finch that I was really able to build out my relationships which were vital.
When I joined ITB I came in as a director, really focused on creating structure and process around how to best service our clients when it comes to talent engagement. Its been so exciting to be at a business that centres around people of Influence during a time when influencer has changed so rapidly and figuring out how to grow the business. Celebrity is still a huge part of our business but so is the paid/scaled influencer work which has meant we needed to build our own technology, hire experts, and make sure we stay ahead of the game. I took over as MD when Emma Grede left 4.5 years ago, and we have grown from a team of 23 in London to 44 in London, NYC, LA and DC of which I’m hugely proud.
What have been your career highlights?
Shoots in the South of France with Pierce Brosnan, judging James Corden and Oscar Isaac doing their best DeNiro impressions (Oscar wins), the hustle, learning and fun of Cannes Lions, Led Zepplin’s reunion gig, booking ‘firsts’ – One Direction’s first ever commercial campaign, Javier Bardem’s first ever spot etc. Also - seeing a GAP campaign we cast on a billboard in Times Square was a pretty great feeling.
Then there’s the people I’ve worked with. Whatever agency I’ve been at, but especially at ITB, we’ve fostered a great team and a true sense of community.
Nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing one of the team land something that has been a hard graft and a passion for them – whether that ends up on a billboard in Times Square or a viral hit on TikTok.
In more recent years, the leadership growth I’ve been fortunate to gain as MD while working with a brilliant leadership coach, Jo Howes. She has really helped me to see new opportunity and ways of being.
What’s your view of working in creative?
Every day is different. I love hearing the ideas that come forward, the evolving spaces in which our work could live. We recently hosted a talk on the Metaverse that I genuinely could have listened to for hours, it was so approachable and digestible and everyone brought something fascinating to the table.
What does “cool” mean for you?
Cool is how we deliver our work. How we work with our clients, how we collaborate, how we create, cast and strategise. Cool is how we care about each other as a team, live by our values and come together to deliver great work. Cool is how we respect each others differences and embrace diversity of both thought and background.
What advice would you give 21 year old Emma?
Have confidence in yourself and be kind and diligent. Care about how to interact with others, but not what others think of you. If you can do all of the former, the latter will be positive.
That’s not to say I didn’t have confidence or seek to be kind, but I allowed the need for being liked overshadow just being me and being human. Because me is great, and it took me a long time to have the confidence to realise and admit it.