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Meet the MD: Joe Chetcuti of Front

With an irrepressible focus on action and moving his own and his clients' businesses forward, Joe Chetcuti of Front shares with UMi what drives him in his aspiration to create "Yorkshire’s most respected small agency".

What is it the company does?

We are a Sheffield-based advertising and branding agency that works with national brands that want their communications to deliver more. We work across various industries including attractions, tourism, retail, consumer products, food and drink and automotive. Our clients include/have included Costcutter, Legoland Discovery Centre, Marshalls, Redrow plc, Regatta, Morphy Richards, Chester Zoo and Edinburgh Zoo.

For everything we do for our clients, we ask one question: is this the most efficient way to achieve the result we want? To do this, we strip out the extraneous, focus on the result, use insight and process to deliver great creative every time to deliver the biggest impact with minimum means. 

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

I’m responsible for the management of resources. In reality, that means making sure we have the right ones at the right quality to do the right rings at the right time, profitably. I also oversee our new business strategy and general marketing of the company. It’s certainly a mixed bag but that variety is what makes me get up every morning as no two days are ever the same.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I spent the first decade of my career client-side in the games industry developing and publishing games. I worked at Gremlin Interactive, then at Infogrames (Atari) and finally at Microsoft as a marketing manager. I eventually made the move into advertising with the Mediasquare Network where I widened my marketing experience before jumping ship to set up Front in 2004 with my business partner Chris David. I also completed an MBA which was a real milestone for me and one that I am very proud of... despite not having an undergraduate degree.

What do you believe makes a great leader?

Action. Any action at all. It doesn’t matter if (in hindsight) it's right or wrong, but you’ve always got to be moving forward and seen to be moving forward.

Also, it’s essential to instil a culture that promotes a healthy life/work balance. There’s no point putting in 70 hours a week if you become blinded to your own and your team’s wellbeing. It’s essential to be business focused but you also need to be empathetic to get the very best out of people. I work to live rather than live to work. I want the team to do the same.

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

My biggest challenge is always planning what’s next. That is what drives me to make the business a success. It’s important to stay focused and have a plan but it’s also vital to seize new growth opportunities as that is what will secure our long-term future.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Like most people, I find it hard to switch off but family time and getting outdoors with the dog is what helps me to unwind. They keep me on the straight and level and provide a sense of purpose.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An astronaut! I can legally fly a plane but I think my potential astronaut days are behind me - but you never know.

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

People not knowing the numbers along with how much a project is worth or what it will deliver. Everyone needs to understand the bottom line as it helps make good decisions in a fast-paced environment.

To achieve this, targets and progress are managed by everyone and are transparent. That ensures a sense of ownership regardless of someone’s level.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

Our vision is to be Yorkshire’s most respected small agency that is known for creative excellence, strategic thinking and that gets the best results for its clients regardless of their size or sector. We are on our way there but that aim is central to the business and is shared by everyone.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

To just get on with it, to not worry about over-complicated strategies or business models and to get out there and sell both yourself and your talents. Also, if your gut-feeling feels right then go with it and always have faith in your own abilities and judgement.

Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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