10 questions with... Nadya Powell, co-founder of Utopia

Nadya Powell answers The Drum’s 10 Questions

The media and marketing sector 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 asks what little insights they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are answered by Utopia co-founder Nadya Powell.

What was your first ever job?

At age 13 I got a job working in a newsagent in Hastings. The problem was the owner had worked there forever and knew the price of everything off by heart so nothing had a price on it. My nerves about serving the public and being 13 meant I could not learn well over 500 products prices with ease. In fact I could barely learn five. I was sacked within the week.

Which industry buzzword annoys you most?

Collaborative. I hate words where the opposite is a fallacy. The opposite of collaborative is to be a solo/silo-working arsehole so saying you're collaborative is like saying I'm not an arsehole. It's the same when a business has a value of honest...the opposite of that is a lying tosser. I hate the use of language in meaningless ways.

Who would you most love to share a coffee with?

So difficult. I'm a literature obsessive and read about three to five books a week. I think it would be Tess of the d'Ubervilles so I could give her a hug and tell her it will all be ok.

Highlight of your career (so far?)

Undoubtedly setting up Utopia with Daniele. At age 42 I started my own business and I have learnt more in a year than I have in 10. It's not all plain sailing - relaxing has gone out the window - but it is amazing to have the ability to make the workplace genuinely enjoyable for people. And nobody tells me what to do. Well Daniele tries....

What piece of tech can you not live without?

My iPhone. The older people reading this may remember a Jasper Carrot sketch where he talked about how the human body would change to adapt to modern life. He imagined our chins would extend to enable us to catch the grease from fast food, hands would turn into scoops so we could scoop food while watching TV etc. I think my body has evolved to have a magnetic hand which means my phone sticks to me wherever I go.

I could also say the coil. But the younger readers might faint with horror.

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

I did not have posters because the home I grew up in was so rough/basic I had total permission to draw all over the walls of my bedroom. So I did. As did all my friends. My favourite cartoon was one of me with a key in my back as apparently I was easy to wind up. No I bloody wasn't!

Which city in the world makes you happiest and why?

I am happiest in a forest or on the beach - in space. So if there is a city with both - there.

What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie made me realise you could tell a story just through the choice of words and phrases you use as opposed to the narrative arc. It taught me to really listen as often what people say is, inadvertently, not what they mean. It's how they say it that counts.

What one question do you never want anyone to ask you?

I am renowned for being more open than a very open drawbridge. I honestly don't think there is anything. Feel free to test that out with a specially commissioned Nadya's ten questions!

Best advice you ever heard or received?

Shut-up Nadya and listen for God's sake - you might learn something.

See other entries to The Drum’s regular 10 Questions With... including WPP chief executive Mark Read, Thinkbox chair Tess Alps and Omnicom CEO Jon Wren.

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