Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My digital hero: Michael Dean, Head of Digital, Fox Agency

Michael Dean is Head of Digital at Fox Agency. He has more than two and a half decades of experience across digital, specialising in areas such as digital strategy, digital transformation, and martech strategy. Prior to joining Fox Agency in November 2020, Dean spent almost seven years at Youwe, most recently serving as UK Head of Marketing and Technology. He has also held senior roles at Terabyte Interactive, VSO, and Huntsworth Health.

Who is your digital hero?

Well, it’s hard to narrow down to just one person as there are been several influencers throughout my career… so I’m going to break the rules and choose four.

Gerry Villon from my first job at Real World Studios; Doug Hanna while I was working for Terabyte in New Zealand; PR Smith for when I focused on pure Strategy; and Adam Grant for inspiring my management.

What have they done to win hero status in your eyes?

Gerry showed me that the detail really matters. The smallest thing can impact the end product. I’m not talking about perfection (although Gerry is a perfectionist), I’m talking about knowing and understanding the detail and how it all works together to make everything just right. The resulting awards and two BAFTAs we shared for our work on Ceremony of Innocence proves the case.

Doug is just an amazing chap. He’s a focused CEO with people at the heart. He can run a high-tempo successful business, delight his workforce and still have time for his philanthropic ventures, which have real impact. Proving nice people can be successful and run businesses.

PR Smith came to my attention when I moved into digital transformation and strategy. His SOSTAC™ planning framework opened my eyes and changed the way I worked. It turned nice ideas and theory into actionable result-based solutions. A simple framework that can be used wherever and whenever you need turn ideas into a reality.

I came across Adam’s Work Life Balance podcast after listening to him on one of the TED Talks. I’d managed teams for years and I was proud of my ability to get results, but his podcasts opened my eyes to a whole new world. Really understanding people, what makes them tick and what motives them. This has helped to change and develop my management style for the better.

How has their heroism helped drive digital?

These are all innovators, changers who think differently and act differently. They all look at the world as a series of problems to solve or things to make more beautiful. Their presence and ideas impact people well beyond their reach and they all leave the world in a better place.

What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?

When I started my career in digital, I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. I graduated with a Computer Science degree in 1996 and plunged straight into work. I’ve been able to work at the forefront of where innovation meets reality. From my first Sales CD-ROM in 1994, to working on the BAFTA winning CD-ROM Ceremony of Innocence in 1997 or building an online store with video and audio streaming for Peter Gabriel in 1998 and creating online worlds for VW in 2000, I’ve always loved technology and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. I now look forward to what the Metaverse can bring to my clients!