Human Resources

C-suite career advice: Chris Daplyn, Wunderman UK

Name: Chris Daplyn

Company: Wunderman UK

Job Title: Managing director

Location: London, UK


What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received?

Never try and be anything other than yourself, you’ll get found out. This is a piece of advice I was given and that we make sure everyone at Wunderman follows. We encourage everyone to bring their true selves to work, which avoids the issue you can get of people creating a limited work mask that ultimately inhibits their talent.

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received?

The worst piece I heard of was a former boss telling the then CMO of BT Cellnet: “Don’t invest in that SMS thing, it’ll never catch-on.” That has to go down as one of the worst pieces of advice I think anyone could have received.

Aside from that, I think any time someone tries to cover-up a mistake or a problem. Problems can arise in any job, and it’s down to you to be honest, and work out the solution, rather than avoid it. Short term pain for longer term gain.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?

Be curious and explore. There are so many different areas where you can digitally impact the world, so you’ve just got to find your niche, pin down what it is you really excel at and go for it. Try things, explore all avenues and don’t ever get complacent. There’s always something to learn and new things to find out.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position?

Learn to listen. Listening is an underrated skill and one of the only ones people get worse at as they get more senior. Get over your own ego and listen to what people’s motivations are. Attune yourself to the room, read body language and people’s emotional state and you’ll get a better handle on the real motivations behind what they’re saying – and more importantly what they’re not saying.

Don’t be afraid of making decisions and taking ownership of things. You’re never going to be right all of the time, but your colleagues will have confidence in people who can help make decisions and lead the charge.

If you do take the lead, you also have to be open to challenge from others. Being humble enough to change your view based on a good argument rather than blindly following your original conviction is a valuable quality.

Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored?

I always try to help people understand what drives them, and to follow their chosen passions.

While I can’t take any direct credit for it, this has resulted in former colleagues branching out and setting up on their own – both in my industry and outside it, into areas that are completely removed from digital marketing.

You have to respect the bravery of people who have gone off the beaten track in pursuit of their passion, even if it means they stop working for you as a result!


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