10 questions with... Ajaz Ahmed, co-founder and CEO of AKQA

Ajaz Ahmed, chief executive of AKQA

The media and marketing industry is ultimately about people. In this weekly series, The Drum speaks to professionals across the sector who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what little insights they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are posed to Ajaz Ahmed, the co-founder and chief executive of AKQA.

What was your first ever job?

When I was about 13 or 14, I was juggling school work and a few jobs that included: a paper-round at 5:30am which made me into a morning person and - as I would skim the headlines before putting them through the letterbox - got me interested in current affairs and curious about different topics; a Saturday job in a phone store that taught me about service; afternoons and school holidays working for an American software company that taught me about the world, technology and communications; and a few projects on the side that taught me about creativity and entrepreneurialism. I’ve been working and learning pretty much every day since.

Why did you get into the ad industry?

I’ve always been drawn to art, design and architecture. The reason I wanted to work for the American software company near where I lived is that I fell in love with their building first and wanted to have a legitimate reason to explore it and their grounds. Because of their generosity and kindness when they were giving me a tour, I fell in love with the company and learned a massive amount from them.

What’s the most surprising thing you have learned about the industry since working within it?

The advertising industry is big on consumption but short on worthwhile contribution.

What have you learned from any mistakes you’ve made in your career?

You learn to understand that success has the seeds of failure built in. The thing about mistakes is to admit them early and keep moving forward as you can’t turn back time but you can help make the future more inspiring.

Proudest moment?

When you realise we all stand on the shoulders of giants, that every accomplishment is a team effort, and that serendipity and luck play a significant role in any attainment, there’s little sense of pride, just gratitude.

What is your favourite picture on your phone and why?

A black and white picture of the sailing boat I used to spend weekends on as a teenager.

Who did you have posters of on your wall as a teenager?

It was a bit of an exercise in minimalism. There was only one picture on the wall, and that was of a sailing boat I loved at the time.

iPhone or Android?

iPhone

If you could ban one buzzword or piece of jargon what would it be?

“Tissue meeting.”

What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Use your work as an expression of your values.

Find other entries into 10 Questions With... on The Drum Website.

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