The experience strategy director discusses the career journey that brought him to customer experience specialist VCCP, and the game-changing digital first opportunity offered by service design.
Every year, BIMA celebrates 100 of the people who are leading the industry right now. We’re not talking about work and projects – we’re talking about the leaders, pioneers, entrepreneurs and changemakers – the people we look up to. In the BIMA100 Voices series, LBB is publishing enlightening conversations with these inspiring people.
Today it’s the turn of Jasper Bell, experience strategy director with VCCP. Here, he talks about his 20 year career journey in digital and the excitement he still feels about being given the opportunity to change client businesses for the better.
Tell us about your career path – what led you here?
I got into digital because in 1997 it felt like a completely new and limitless world (despite a close friend claiming it would 'never catch on’).
I started agency side in client services at Modem Media which was the most incredible ‘school of digital’ I could have hoped for. We straddled both communications and product-service thinking, benefitted from some of the smartest minds in the space and were pioneers in online advertising working on brands such as 3Com, Citibank, Chevron and General Motors.
After Modem I stayed agency side, working at Redwood New Media and then Ogilvy Interactive on brands such as Hasbro and Unilever. Wanting to shift into strategy I then moved client side running the digital team at Energy Saving Trust, securing government funding and developing strategies to design digital services to help households identify how to reduce their carbon footprints and apply for grants. Keen to focus more keenly on service design in a more commercial context I joined the digital team at Barclaycard focusing on personalisation and customer acquisition across owned channels and price comparison.
From Barclaycard I joined the strategy team at digital agency Amaze specialising in ecommerce design and build for brand manufacturers such as ASICS, Trek Bikes and Emirates and ended up leading their ecommerce function. I joined VCCP CX in 2019 with the aim of continuing to specialise in design and build and ecommerce and have played a key role in setting up our Experience Strategy function also working on a wide range of briefs across brands such as Shell, Kia, and Compare the Market.
Who has been your greatest inspiration/mentor to date and why?
I would say my old boss and friend Rick Curtis (formerly of Amaze, now at Epam). Rick has a knack for making strategy both simple and thought provoking and helping traditional clients translate their brands to digital. Working together we’ve won over plenty of tough client teams and demonstrated the potential of strategy in the digital design process, particularly for brands selling online for the first time.
What gets you out of bed in the morning? What do you love about what you do?
Firstly, a cliché I know, the people I work with. Strategy is a team sport and it’s been painful being stuck at home in the last year and unable to work face to face with colleagues. We have some first class people at VCCP who really challenge clients in their categories and some incredible designers and technologists who know how to design and deliver brilliant solutions.
The second thing I love is the opportunity to change a client’s business. That moment when a new brief arrives that enables us to collaborate with clients to develop a new proposition from scratch and take it to market.
Workwise, what’s exciting you most right now?
It would have to be the growing focus on service design. To my earlier point this is a game changer for agencies as it creates a bigger opportunity for digital first responses and to get involved in longer term commercial initiatives that take us way beyond the confines of marcomms.
In your career to date, what has given you the biggest sense of pride? What difference has being part of the BIMA100 made – or what difference do you hope it might make?
I think my early days at Amaze. Deciding as an agency to start specialising in ecommerce, pitching in Japan for a global eCommerce brief for ASICS and winning it. That was immensely exciting and a big step forward in my career.
Being part of the BIMA 100 is an achievement I did not expect and something I am hugely proud of. This year I will have been in the industry for 24 years and I’ve learnt so much from some exceptional people. I hope I can inspire and mentor more people to use digital to its full potential and not to be afraid to make mistakes along the way and I hope I can persuade more people to choose digital as a career.