How Did I Get Here?

Kevin Roberts

Executive chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi
  • Education
  • Lancaster Royal Grammar School, Lancaster, England
  • Work Experience
  • 1967–69
    Pub boy, delivery boy, exporter
  • 1969–72
    Brand manager, Mary Quant Cosmetics
  • 1972–75
    International new-products manager, Gillette
  • 1975–82
    Group marketing manager for export and special operations, Middle East/Africa, Procter & Gamble
  • 1982–89
    Regional vice president for Middle East, president and chief executive officer for Canada, PepsiCo
  • 1989–96
    Director and chief operating officer, Lion Nathan
  • 1997–2014
    CEO worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi
  • 2015–Present
    Executive chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi
  • Life Lessons
  • “When given a command, take charge and do what’s right. General Norman Schwarzkopf told me that.”
  • “Fail fast, learn fast, think fast. Velocity gives great competitive advantage.”
  • “Start with the solution and work backward. You cannot incrementalize your way to salvation.”
  • Running track at Lancaster in the 1960s
    “I got kicked out at 17 in 1966. My girlfriend became pregnant, and my headmaster said, ‘You’ve got to leave the girl.’ I replied, ‘That’s not how we do things in the north of England.’ ”
  • “It was a stroke of luck and timing, and I was lucky to work with a genius—Mary invented the miniskirt. My bosses were women, so I learned how women lead with connectivity, collaboration, and creativity.”
  • “Gillette was looking to get into female toiletries.”
  • “It was during the heart of the Cola Wars and very fun. We felt we were the special forces.”
  • Receiving an honorary doctorate at Lancaster University with mountaineer Chris Bonington in 2009
  • “We hired Robert Senior in 2008 and said, ‘One day, my son, this all can be yours.’ So on Jan. 1 we gave it to him.”
  • In the 1960s
    “I worked in exports because I spoke French and Spanish—people in Lancaster didn’t speak anything at the time, not even English.”
  • With sister Trisha in the 1950s
  • “Lion was a bottler and the biggest brewer in New Zealand, and Nathan was a bunch of retail stores, and they wanted someone to bring them together.”
  • “My father worked in a mental hospital as a security guard, and that’s pretty much the same job as running an ad agency.”
  • Promoting Lovemarks, his book about advertising, at the London Book Fair in 2004