Pitch Perfect The BD100 The Drum Recommends

New business in agencies is more than just pitching: UK top 100 biz developers


By Dani Gibson, Senior Writer

November 1, 2018 | 4 min read

When it comes to recognising the talent leading change in media and marketing agency new business and business development, look no further than The Drum’s Biz Dev 100, powered by the BD100.

This new annual list aims to recognise and celebrate the important role by those who source and bring in new customers and keep the fortunes of businesses on track within the media and marketing industries.

In 2017, founder of The McHardy Collective Limited, Richard McHardy and founder and managing director of Upfront Business development, Jody Osman came up with the idea of the BD100 in the Sun and 13 Cantons, in Soho, London. Having worked together for over a decade, they initially connected over a shared passion for new business.

Osman says: “There’s a lack of new business meet ups and support groups, so we’d meet up informally every few months to share our experiences, insights, leads, tips and views on the industry. We talked about how the business development profession was under-represented within our sector and how it didn't get the recognition it deserved, and we decided to do something about it!”

The idea seemed to strike a chord and a year later they launched the BD100 in partnership with The Drum’s Pitch Perfect conference in October.

At the event, the list was revealed with two prestigious awards up for grabs; Rising Star and Business Developer of the Year. The accolades went to M&C Saatchi London new business director, Lydia Smith and Francesca Brook, new business lead at MullenLowe London.

On her win, Brook says: “I was already delighted to have made the top 100 list, I never expected to win. As this was the first year for the BD100 I don't think any of us knew what format it would take, so it certainly came as a complete surprise to actually take away a physical award. I'm totally overwhelmed by the whole thing.”

Smith adds: “It was a humbling experience, to be singled out in front of such a high calibre of business developers. A lot of hard work and grafting goes into the role, it’s not just the pitching but the long, mid and short-term new business strategies that, when implemented successfully, become part of an agency's DNA; making new business everyone’s business.”

Relative to the value it brings to every agency, new business is under-represented in the industry believes Brook. “The BD100 is a way to address this by shining a light on and creating a network of individuals who share a specific set of skills, who can all learn from each other.”

McHardy and Osman are hoping to shine a light on great business developers, recognising their unique talents and highlighting their achievements. “Seeing Giles Hedger, chief executive officer of M&C Saatchi saluting his new business director Lydia Smith for winning was such a positive endorsement which will hopefully help foster a greater appreciation for business developers at their agencies up and down the country,” explains McHardy.

According to Brook, winning has already started to impact her career, having had amazing comments and messages from people in and outside her network. “The opportunities that have come with it, will benefit me as well as my agency, and I certainly wouldn't have had them before the award” she adds. “I think more than anything, it's about awareness, and it's great there's now a platform that actively promotes our role.”

Business development professionals generate millions in pounds of revenues for their agencies, for the creative sector and for the UK economy, added McHardy. “If the business development profession is geared up to perform even better, then the results will be outstanding, significant and economically far-reaching.”

Throughout November, we will be publishing a series of interviews with the top 100 business developers. Check out the first interview with Eli Pinto, co-founder and chief executive officer of Sharp Co-Lab.

For a full list of the 2018 UK’s top business developers, click here.

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