With Magenta celebrating its tenth year in business in 2021, it’s given me the opportunity to reflect on the past decade. In my last blog, I talked about the inspiration behind the business. This time, I’m focusing on the 10 people who’ve had the most impact on Magenta’s journey in that time.
My former father-in-law
Magenta would never have happened without the encouragement of my former father-in-law. Reg, a retired toolmaker, was the one member of my family who backed the idea of setting up a business. Everyone else thought it was too risky (especially as I had secured a job offer to be a comms director for an FM service provider). It was Reg who gave me the confidence to go it alone – and he’s still very supportive.
Once I’d decided to go it alone, I needed to find a name for this new venture. Anyone who’s ever set up a business will know that’s no easy feat. How do you find a name which reflects the culture you want to create, the services you plan to deliver and isn’t already taken by someone else? It was a brainstorm with Mark Parry, who later became our creative director, which resulted in the name Magenta. It comes from the old CMYK colour model, which we’d both used in our publishing backgrounds. Magenta is also a bold, bright and fun colour and seemed the perfect match for the new venture.
Described as the grandfather of FM, I’d known Lionel since my early days at FM World. It was he who I turned to when I was thinking about going it alone, and he ended up being my co-founder and someone I turned to regularly for advice over those first few years. Although I bought him out a few years later, his advice was instrumental in Magenta’s success – and my confidence – in those early years.
Debansu Das and Mark Cosh
Magenta’s first ever client was SitexOrbis, a vacant property management firm, where Debansu Das was marketing manager and Mark Cosh sales and marketing director. I couldn’t have asked for a better first client. Having had several PR agencies in the past, Debansu gently guided me into what I should be doing and how I should be doing it and this advice was instrumental in how we run our client relationships even today. Debansu and Mark made a great double act and showed me how fun business could be.
One of our first major clients was Atalian Servest, then Servest, who we signed up just a few months after founding. The initial contact came through Andrew Sugars, who I had met at an industry dinner a few years before. Over the past 10 years, we have supported Atalian Servest grow from c£30million to €3billion and expand worldwide, and I still work closely with Andrew. It’s been a privilege to be part of Atalian Servest’s journey and to have a relationship which has lasted as long as the business.
Although we were initially known for our media relations experience, Magenta soon expanded into other areas and Bruce was instrumental in that development. Then a key part of the facilities team at tech firm EMC, I worked with Bruce to support his One Team approach with service partners across Europe. That one piece of work – which was great fun as Bruce is an inspirational leader – has led on to numerous internal communications projects for some big names. Workplace change communications is now a key part of our offer, largely thanks to Bruce.
Katina Byford Winter
At the heart of every business is its people and we’ve been incredibly lucky over the years to have some brilliant M People in the team. Building a great culture – the sort of place where people want to work – has always been really important to me. It comes back to one of my own personal values: treating people how you want to be treated. When our office and wellbeing manager joined three years ago, I quickly realised this was someone who could continue to develop on our already strong foundations. Kat not only organises our monthly team lunches, quarterly team days and annual trip away, but also kept us sane throughout the pandemic with everything from socially-distanced walks to Zoom quizzes and even a magic show.
In 2018, Jo Sutherland and I attended a brilliant training session on increasing agency profitability through the Public Relations and Communications Association. The trainer, Neil Backwith, previously headed up Porter Novelli. After the course, I contacted Neil to see if he’d be interested in acting as an adviser to Magenta. Since that time he’s helped to transform our business and has been instrumental in taking us to the next level.
The person who set up the business is not always the right person to take it to its next stage of growth and development. When Jo joined the M People back in 2015, I didn’t initially see her as a potential MD although she was a fantastic account lead injecting energy and passion into all her relationships. Over the years, her leadership skills have really come to the fore and in October 2019 I took a step back and handed over the reins to her. In the 18 months since, she’s taken Magenta to the next level spearheading the move towards being an integrated communications consultancy. She’s now a new mum on maternity leave, which has given me a chance to step back more into the business and to recognise how much the business has changed.