Sharon Lloyd Barnes is the Advertising Association’s new commercial director, with a remit to revamp and tszuj up Front Foot memberships in line with your needs. In this introductory interview, Sharon takes us through her path to the new position and sets out her aims for the coming months.
What was your path to Front Foot?
My first job was in the media department for an advertising agency, and within about six months of doing the job my colleagues decided I should be in ad sales. They promptly set me up with some interviews and I worked in ad sales in women’s press for several years. In my mid-twenties I went out to work in New York selling Bauer’s titles, so I was Ad Director on their Women’s Weekly. It just amazing to have that experience working out there – you know, same language but culturally completely different.
My son has autism, so when he was about three I set up a school with a couple of other parents, which is now twelve years old. We started that in a Portacabin with our four kids, and it’s now got a secondary school, it’s got eighty children going from four to eighteen, and we’re looking at doing a college with post-18 provision, so it’s incredible.
I also set up a business development consultancy about thirteen years ago. By chance, my business partner now, who I’ve known since I worked at Davis & Pearce back in the 80s, approached me to join our consultancies together, and that’s what we did.
You have your own ideas, but from speaking to Front Foot members what do you sense are the main benefits of belonging to the exclusive network?
I’m keen to find out what value looks like to each member, because it’s really intriguing that while every organisation gets value from the membership, what they consider most valuable is slightly different for each organisation. I’m keen for us to be the authority and be proactive but I also want to be able to tailor it for each member.
For some, for example, it’s profile-raising opportunities, for others it’s the networking, and for others it’s the reports that we do. We’ll make sure that the Front Foot calendar reflects all those things.
What would you like to hear from the Front Foot members over the next few months?
I would love them to communicate with me and give really candid feedback. It’s their organisation too.
Being part of Front Foot means that you have got a seat round the table to air your own sector-specific issues and find a resolution with people and peers. So it should absolutely be a place where they feel able to do that: the membership is the sum of its parts, and they are all its voice. And if we don’t know how they’re feeling, we can’t respond.
Sharon can be reached at Sharon.Lloydbarnes@adassoc.org.uk