Guess who’s been named 30 under 30… He’s kind of a big deal.

by Becki Hemming

He’s a killer Account Manager, our Head of Diversity (no, we’re not talking about his taste in music), and now he’s been named in PR Week’s 30 under 30. We give you…Julian Obubo.

30 under 30

Wait… Who… Me!? Can I get some water over here?

If you’ve been in or around our office in the last week, you’ll have surely heard a certain Julian referring to himself in the third person, aka 30 under 30*. He’s pretty pumped…

Cue questions.

Who has most inspired you in your career?

Does Don Draper count… No?

I would have to say Alex Myers, or as I call him, ‘The Man that is Alex Myers’. I actually do have a Don Draper/Alex Myers story; in my first week at Manifest, Alex gathered all of us (this was 2012, so all of us was like 5 people) and played us the famous Kodak pitch from Mad Men. As a huge Mad Men fan myself, I knew then that Manifest was where I belonged.

Alex may disagree with this, but I think of him as an expert generalist. Expert-generalists study widely in many different fields, understand deeper principles that connect those fields, and then apply the principles to their core speciality. I’ve often marvelled at Alex’s creativity and I believe it comes from his deep curiosity about the world around him. He is able to connect themes from an old painting he’s seen at Tate Britain to the branding problems a startup is facing in 2017. We often have conversations about theatre, art, design, politics and music (he introduced me to the Clash and deepened my interest in The Rolling Stones… I even downloaded Mick Jagger’s solo albums).

I’ve learned a lot about creative writing, persuasion, charisma and management from working with him over the last five years. I now get to sit opposite him until the next desk shuffle (we do love a shuffle here) and I’m looking forward to learning a lot more.

What PR advice would you give your 23-year-old self?

Read papers and publications that don’t appeal to your demographic, politics or values. You will not only learn about how other people think, but you’ll probably need that information for a pitch down the line.

What changes have you seen in the industry and where do you think it’s going in the next five years?

I’ve seen the power of online influencers grow exponentially every year. I’ve also seen how important it is for those in PR to gain multidisciplinary media skills, whether these be in video production, search engine optimisation, web design, etc. Once upon a time, you could get away with saying, “I’m going to call in our Twitter expert to this meeting”, but now you better be the damn Twitter expert. I think it’s a good thing for the industry, it fosters creativity.

Where will we be in the next five years? I can tell you one thing for sure — we’ll still be reading paper newspapers and we’ll still subconsciously value them more than online coverage (who doesn’t do this?). I think we’ll also see a further erosion of journalists being the gatekeepers between brands and their audiences.

I think the biggest changes will occur in workplace culture. We will see more firms offering incentives such as unlimited holidays, sensible parental leave and perks that go beyond free beers on Friday. I’m beginning to see that many agencies are taking the topic of diversity seriously. There is still a lot of lip service being paid by agencies that should do better. I’m encouraged that the creative value of diversity is being understood in many corridors of power and excited for the next five years at Manifest. Is there a 40 under 40?

Send your love!

If this has sparked your urge to congratulate or ask another question, Julian can found tweeting at @JulianObubo and slacking at @30under30*.

*Humility jokes aside — Julian Obubo we love and salute you.