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"I wish I'd done it sooner" says Fifth Ring boss ahead of Go Global Conference in Manchester


By The Drum Team | Editorial

May 31, 2011 | 4 min read

Ian Ord of international marketing agency Fifth Ring has spoken to The Drum ahead of speaking at MiNetwork's forthcoming Go Global Conference on International Expansion and says he wishes he had expanded internationally sooner.

The Aberdeen-based integrated marketing business expanded into the Middle East in 2004 by opening a Dubai office and has since opened offices in Abu Dhabi and more recently in Houston and Kuala Lumpur.

Ord recently reported that the agency’s Houston office, opened in 2008, has increased its turnover by 50% year on year and he only wishes that he had taken the plunge to become a globally operating business sooner.

He says: “We decided to go global in 2003 and took our first step into the Middle East in 2004. We started to plan our expansion into North America in 2006 and opened the office there in 2008. Given the success that particular office has achieved, I genuinely wish we had done it sooner but there were both resource and commercial constraints on our business. Expansion into Asia Pacific in 2011 was the next logical step in our international expansion and we were able to apply what we had learned from the move into the Middle East and North America.”

As well as now being a more solid business working for clients around the world, Ord says that the effect of being a business able to operate globally has had a much deeper impact on the agency than simply having a number of exotic addresses.

“Going global has ensured that each of our stakeholders, our colleagues, clients, prospective clients, the media and academia view us in a completely different light,” says Ord. “They now view us a global business founded in Aberdeen and not as an Aberdeen business.

“It has also allowed us to position ourselves internationally with clients as a company who can deliver on their behalf in a number of geographies. Our global footprint of offices has created a ‘blue ocean’ position in our strongest sector which is energy.

“Going global has tested our commitment to IT, communications and corporate governance. We have had to learn to work on the world clock as opposed to the local clock. Having made that strategic commitment to go global these are simply challenges that we have had to address and conquer.

“It has also conditioned us to work in different cultures and different commercial environments and given us a particular understanding of both the macroeconomic environment as well as the micro.”

And where would Fifth Ring be today had the directors not taken the step of going global?

“I think we would still be a lifestyle business as opposed to a legacy business,” says Ord. “We would be much smaller than we are right now and we would be competing on relative level terms with North East and Scottish based agencies.”

To hear more from Fifth Ring and other global agency business leaders from Elmwood, Reading Room, Photolink and others about expanding your agency globally come along to the Go Global Conference on International Expansion in Manchester on 30th June. Only 80 tickets available. Vist the MiNetwork website to book your place today.

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