Chris Lewis has spent the past 15 years working in digital. For the last three years he has been Client Services Director at digital transformation agency, Cyber-Duck. We asked who his digital hero is.
Who is your digital hero?
I’ve had the great fortune over the years to work with many digital heroes. Many of whom have shaped and influenced my career path over the years. Special mention should go out to Chris Wright – former Strategic Planning Director for APAC at Initiative – who was Head of Planning when I was starting out 15 years ago at RLA Group down in Bournemouth.
Chris is part visionary, part maverick, part mentor. He’s one of the trusted people who I’ve turned to over the years when I’ve needed advice or to run ideas by.
From an industry perspective, my digital hero is someone who I’ve never had the chance to work with but have admired their leadership from afar. Ajaz Ahmed, Founder and CEO of AKQA.
What has he done to win hero status in your eyes?
Having spent a few years working within the confines of the WPP bubble, when I worked on Telefonica, I attended Ajaz’s Annual IDM Lecture back in 2016, having long admired the work being delivered by his agency and how he set it up at 21. When he was asked about how he balanced the creativity and innovation at an agency like AKQA, with the constant need to deliver profitability for WPP.
His response was simple, “I tell my team that the more profitable we are, the more we can invest in creativity and innovation”. That simple response has stayed with me and is one I often repeat to my teams, to help them understand and appreciate the role that we play in the growth and development of our agency.
I’m a firm believer that you can deliver profitability without ever compromising on quality!
How has his heroism helped drive digital?
The other benefit of attending that lecture was I received a copy of his book Velocity. A book he co-authored with Stefan Olander, former VP of Global Digital Innovation at Nike, and another digital hero and pioneer.
The book has some memorable take ways. “Make the complicated simple. And the simple interesting” and my personal favourite “Digital is the means, not the end”. Between them, and their teams, we saw the application of those principles applied across Nike’s digital work over the years and constantly saw them push the envelope of what’s possible within digital.
What the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?
There are two. Sustainability and Digital Inclusion.
Sustainability isn’t on everyone’s digital agenda yet. But it should be. Recent research from Yale and M.I.T found a single hour of streaming emits between 150g and 1kg of CO2. YouTube alone streams 1 billion hours of video per day. So it’s easy to see how the digital industry’s carbon emissions now outstrips that of the aviation industry.
If users can find exactly what they need, in the most efficient way, complete their actions swiftly, with minimal distractions, with fewer page or file downloads and abandoned user journeys – it all adds up to fewer carbon emissions.
In terms of Digital Inclusion, everyone – no matter their location, language, age, gender, ability, literacy, or wealth – should be able to participate in the digital world. Both need to be at the forefront of our minds, and I have no doubt that new heroes will emerge to champion these issues.
What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?
Having spent time away from agency life, I re-entered three years ago with the remit to build a dedicated Client Services function within a small, but ambitious, independent digital agency called Cyber-Duck. Over the past three years I’ve seen us rapidly grow in size and stature, delivering outstanding work for the likes of Sport England, The Commonwealth and Sanctuary Group. This journey has resulted in my inclusion in this year’s BIMA 100 list.
Being recognised by your peers for your work is the single biggest validation for the time and effort you put in and has only whetted my appetite to see us achieve even more.