22 December 2020

Meet the team | Iain Valentine

Isobar UK & Ireland has a team of over 400 across London, Edinburgh and Dublin, as well as production teams in Sofia and Pune. Now is your chance to get to know us. Say hello to Iain, our CEO, he's at the helm of our Isobar ship. Find out all about his inspirational career journey, and what he thinks makes a good leader.
So, who are you and what do you do? 


Hi, I’m Iain Valentine, CEO of Isobar UK & Ireland since 1st June 2020. Prior to that, I was Creative Director and then Managing Partner of Whitespace - an Isobar company for 16 years. 


Tell us a bit about your background

The short version?

Studied Graphic Design, graduating with a 1st from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee and a mission to run my own agency, and for that agency to be the best in Scotland. I decided I needed to get some experience, so interned at places like Wolff Olins in London before coming back to Edinburgh and taking my first real job in a small design studio, and then my next role as a senior designer at Navy Blue developing my skills and passion for digital.

I took the leap and tendered my notice to start my own consultancy, at the same time I was approached by a small agency called Whitespace to lead the creative team. I was clear with them about my ultimate mission expecting this would be the end of the conversation. Surprisingly, the existing management tabled an approach that would see myself and two other Whitespacers ultimately own and run the agency. I am and continue to be incredibly proud of the agency we evolved and grew over the last 15 years, winning Scottish Design Agency of the year three times and becoming one of the largest and most progressive Digital Design Agencies in Scotland.

In 2018 we began the next stage of our evolution by joining dentsu international, giving us greater reach and opportunity for our team and clients. Then in June, I was delighted to accept the CEO role of Isobar in the UK, helping to build a world-class creative and experience offering - with technology and innovation at its heart. It has been quite a journey and I look forward to leading this exceptionally talented bunch of people into 2021.


What does your normal working day look like?

Days never seem that normal, especially in the current working situation. Since I began this role during the pandemic I have had zero face to face meetings with my new team which has been pretty tough. However, over Microsoft Teams, my day will generally be a mix of setting the direction and priorities for the business as we navigate these challenging times and collaborating with my peers within dentsu on how we can deliver even better work and integrated services for our clients. I’m also directly involved in how we can best grow and win new and existing business. Lastly, I ensure we are building a diverse and inclusive culture to ensure we attract and retain the very best talent.


What skills and expertise do you need to be good at your role?

I’m not sure that I would class these all as skills, but I certainly think these are key factors in being able to achieve results within my role.

  • Ability to listen – To support and help remove barriers for individuals and teams, so they can fulfil their full potential.
  • Belief – Being caring and considerate to our people and their passion for the work we produce.
  • Client focus – We only exist because of our clients, so keeping a focus on our clients satisfaction and the challenges they face is key.
  • Decisiveness – It’s important we make decisions to move forward, even if some of these may not always be universally liked.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

The amazing people I get to work with across Isobar and dentsu. I also love the opportunity to be constantly learning and pushing myself to undertake new challenges.


Do you have any advice for someone starting out in their career? 

I have a quote by Michelangelo which I think fits the bill…


‘The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark’.




Find out more about Iain by clicking here.