Whenever you read a profile of Ajaz Ahmed, you’ll usually find terms such as ‘precocious’, ‘whizz-kid’ or ‘pioneer’, and not without good reason, given that Ahmed founded the hugely influential digital agency AKQA in 1994, aged just 21.
In that time he’s steered his agency from a London basement through a dotcom collapse to office openings in Europe, India, the US and Asia via a $540m acquisition by Sir Martin Sorrell’s juggernaut WPP. When that deal was inked in 2012, there were questions about how easily AKQA and Ahmed would fit into the WPP machine, but Ahmed’s continued presence at the helm and rapport with WPP chief executive Sorrell has made for a smooth transition.
In fact he frequently cites the support and encouragement he receives from Sorrell as a boon for AKQA’s development. The Drum once asked Ahmed what makes a great leader. “Let the work do the talking, don’t believe the hype (especially your own), and remember that no player is bigger than the club.” It is thanks to these qualities that he has become one of the digital industry’s most enduring entrepreneurs.