Patrick Mills, Director of Membership and Professional Development, IPA


My very short but long-lasting mentoring story. I joined the ad industry in 1988, after a brief spell working as a van driver in the fashion industry (which, incidentally, I enjoyed enormously and met many very famous people).

Having graduated from Kings College London with a 2:1 in Geology I wasn’t exactly advertising material, I was also rather shy and hated answering the phone.

I joined Generator, a through-the-line subsidiary of Yellowhammer. Everyone was so cool.

After a period working as a runner in production; basically, rushing up and down stairs photocopying A2 status reports and getting six-part creative briefs signed off, I was asked to come in on Monday in a suit (my suit came from a seriously dull outfitter in Weymouth’s high street) – I was going to be an account exec.

A couple of months in and still no idea of what was going on, the agency's creative director took me under his wing.  His first lesson was that account management is 80% charm 20% knowledge – he obviously saw enough of the former to make me believe I had a chance.

The second, and more important piece of his mentoring was to help me write creative briefs. I had no idea about objectives, USPs etc and he went through the logic and explained why I needed to learn this – not least pithy writing and brevity.

He spent a lot of time going through the briefs I wrote and mentored/coached/taught me how to write effectively. And boosted my confidence enormously.

A lesson I have never forgotten and use every day.

Last updated 07 December 2023