In the hot seat: Rupert Young, Brunswick Group & Brunswick Gulf

Rupert Young chats with us about communications, curiosity, and launching Brunswick’s Dubai office during the debt crisis

Rupert Young, Partner of Brunswick Group and Head of Brunswick Gulf, has been a communications consultant for twenty-two years. At Brunswick for 19 years, he started in London before moving to the Arabian Gulf to launch the business in 2007. Rupert leads Brunswick’s business in the Gulf, based out of Dubai. He advises the senior management of government-owned entities, private and listed companies and multi-nationals looking to increase their profile in the region. Following the success of our Global Power Book #PRProSeries, we are exploring the careers of the most powerful communications pros around the world today. Felice Hurst, MD of Hanson Search MENA, sits down with Rupert to find out how he made it in the industry.

Why did you get into communications?

When I was coming out of the Army, I did a resettlement course, and there was a careers computer in the corner of the resettlement centre, covered in dust. It had one of those programmes that asks you a hundred questions about yourself such as ‘do you prefer analysing data or speaking to people’, those sorts of things. I answered the questions, pressed the button, and PR came up. That was in 1994, and I didn’t really know anything about public relations, so I thought I’d look into it and corporate and financial communications caught my attention. Then I got lucky. I met a friend through my brother who gave me an opportunity to do an internship at a fast growing boutique called Ludgate Communications, which was later taken over by Weber Shandwick. I spent three very happy years there, learning quickly. Oddly enough, it’s really thanks to Brunswick that I got the job at Ludgate. During my internship at Ludgate, I slopped off to Brunswick for a job interview, and when they called me a few days later for a second interview, the Director at Ludgate who answered the phone, got nervous I would leave and offered me a job straight away. So I did three years at Ludgate and then moved to Brunswick. I always wanted to join Brunswick; in my view it was always the market leader.

What personal attribute has most helped you succeed?

I think a combination of composure and good humour. Staying calm when everything is moving very fast and flexible in the way I give advice.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career?

It was probably starting Brunswick’s office here in Dubai. It was a daunting exercise. I felt the weight of a strong international brand on my shoulders and wanted to make the best of it. Of course, the launch was followed relatively quickly by the debt crisis where we were fortunate to be working alongside government departments and government-related entities who needed help during this unsettling period.

Who is the most inspiring person you have worked with?

Having worked with him for nearly twenty years I would have to say Sir Alan Parker, Brunswick’s Chairman and Founder. He is an incredibly charismatic man, has been at the forefront of our industry since the 1980’s and has given me incredible opportunities; not least the chance to build the Brunswick brand here in the Gulf. He is a man with wide philanthropic and cultural interests as well as someone with a big heart who despite an unbelievably busy schedule is able to find time and make things look effortless.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?

When I got going at Ludgate, I had a boss who encouraged me not to be satisfied with my writing and ‘fight the document’. What she meant was that you should always try to make your statements, letters etc. more succinct and to the point. She used to be able to take my two-page wordy statements and turn them into half a page of concise writing. No one has time to read lengthy statements in today’s world and if you work hard you can always say things more clearly, in less words.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge in the next two years in this region?

In terms of Corporate Communications, this region is becoming more established and it is attracting increasingly talented people who want to develop careers in the industry. We need to make sure that we continue to improve professionalism throughout the industry and deliver work for our clients that is of a truly global standard.

What three words would best describe you?

Dependable, loyal, determined. A real Taurus!

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to get into Corporate Communications?

Read. Read, read, read. Read about business, read about finance, read about markets, read about management and entrepreneurs and the way things are changing. Keep up with the news and become interested and curious about the wider world. —

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Author: Felice Hurst

With nearly twenty years of experience in search and recruitment and a decade of experience working in MENA, Felice set up the Hanson Search Middle East office to develop our offering in the region. Working across the spectrum of high-level vacancies, Felice has had considerable success across in-house and consultancy roles.

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