How I got where I am today: Gareth Gilbert

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What did you want to be when you were young?

When I was younger, all I really wanted to be was older. Now that I’m older, all I want to be is young again. The truth is, I was never really fixated on a particular dream or profession like most people do at a young age. I am still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

What are the main career stepping stones you have taken?

Going to Robert Gordon University was actually the first career stepping stone I took. RGU has a great reputation for getting people into work, and it certainly helped me. My first job was a direct follow-on from a placement during my course. I worked in a very formal office environment supporting marketing and PR efforts. This gave me a good grounding in how organisations worked.

After travelling, I returned to work at a local radio station. This role was far more creative, fast-paced and dynamic. I was part of the team who looked after sponsorship and marketing opportunities and came up with the on air competitions. The balance between these roles gave me a great foundation for my work at Fifth Business.

From there, travelling across Europe and the USA to take on major change projects provided me with experience that would have been difficult to gain in one location. This was the key step in my career. Being able to call on international experience with clients from different sectors rounded out my early knowledge and learning. This has proved to be invaluable in my current role and for the clients I work for.

Gareth Gilbert

Are you scared of making mistakes?
Absolutely not. I admire the famous quote by Thomas Edison, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”, as I believe that mistakes can be a good thing. You can't grow if you don't allow yourself to make mistakes. The trick is to focus on what you learned from the mistake and how to improve from it.

Pet hate?
Bad-time keeping is my pet hate in any shape or form. It’s bad for any type of business. As we are client-facing at The Fifth Business, being prepared and on time adds massive credibility and its importance cannot be overstated. This is something I feel strongly about.

What advice have you ignored?
To leave Aberdeen. I was told that I had to leave Aberdeen for London, or another major city in order to become successful. I’ve built my career around an Aberdeen company. I’ve helped grow The Fifth Business from our original base in Aberdeen to the global company we are today. I was also recently named in the Aberdeen 40 under-40 list, which proves that staying in Aberdeen was the correct decision to make.

What has motivated you?
Opportunities motivate me and the chance to do new and exciting things. I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve already had, but I’m hungry for more. During my time with the Fifth Business I have had the opportunity to manage each region of our operations in Aberdeen, London, The Netherlands and Houston, Texas, as well as delivering global communications and change initiatives for clients such as BP, Shell, Texas Children’s Hospital, Rolls Royce, BAE Systems and more. I thrive on those types of opportunities, I’m really looking forward to seeing what the future brings.

What's the best way to motivate others?
By setting people clear targets, giving them the right amount of responsibility to motivate them, then getting out of their way. That’s what I love about The Fifth Business – people are trusted to go off and deliver jobs to the best of their ability without being micro-managed. If it wasn’t for that ethos, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Your favourite stress-buster?
I have two. The first one is rugby – physical exercise is such an important stress-buster. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in the body. Exercising regularly can help to reduce stress, boost self-esteem and even ward off anxiety.

Secondly, and the greatest stress buster for me, are my kids. Ryan is four-and-a-half and Carys is 10 months old. Putting the kids to bed at night, cuddling into them and reading to them helps decrease work-related stress. It can be difficult to find relaxation when you find yourself working round the clock. Focusing on yourself and taking the steps to reduce stress helps you become a happier and more productive employee. I’m never happier than when I am with my wife and kids.

What's your best career advice?
Sometimes cliches become cliches because they express important truths. I think this one is an example of that: “Be nice to people on the way up, they’re the same folks you’ll meet on the way down”. It’s a nice way to think about how to treat people throughout your career. I want to continue treating people with the respect and the dignity they deserve; hopefully they can return the favour to me later on in life.

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