Meet the team: George P Johnson

As George P Johnson celebrates its centenary, the team tell Event about the journey that brought them to the agency, and the thrill of innovative projects.

The George P Johnson team
The George P Johnson team

Fact file
Full-time staff: 93 Established: 1987 (UK office) Location: Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey Turnover: £48m Longest-serving client: IBM (1998) Sectors: Technology, finance, IT, mobile, FMCG, sports
George P Johnson was place second in Event's Brand Experience Report 2014

Future events
Fitbit UK launch activation: October 2014; P&G OralB trade shows: October and November 2014; Cisco Live 2015: Milan, February 2015

Around the corner
In the year ahead, GPJ's UK office is aiming to: increase its digital and integrated communications; create and execute more consumer activations; deliver more shopper-focused and sports marketing.

Sonny Borg, Senior event co-ordinator

Borg joined the agency in 2012 after finishing a degree in event management. The 25-year-old underwent a placement year at GPJ in 2010 as part of his studies. He works mainly on international exhibitions and conferences.

Why did you apply for a role at GPJ?
While at university I went on a site visit to Excel, where we heard about the industry's 'big guns'. These included GPJ, so it was high on my list as being a reputable agency.

What are your aspirations there?
I am trying to make my way up to account management level, and I very much enjoy the day-to-day client interaction, working out what they need and how we can help.

What do you like about working at GPJ?
Everyone is close and there's a good social element. It's relaxed and doesn't feel too corporate. We also have a lot of flexibility as to what we do on an individual level, so you don't feel restricted in your role and there's trust from your peers and senior-level colleagues that you can deliver. We are also exposed to a variety of events, clients and sectors, which keeps you motivated.

What advice would you give to young event professionals?
The route now is to get a degree, but it is also vital that people get work experience and volunteer. When I was interviewed for placements at event agencies that really made a difference.

Hannah Topper, Senior event manager

The 33-year-old started working at GPJ in March 2011, joining the company from a small Bristol agency called BBL Events, where she worked for five years.

What attracted you to GPJ?
I researched agencies in London and realised I wanted to work in a large company, mainly because of the number of opportunities to be part of a big team and to work abroad.

How have you worked your way up the ranks?
It's about experience - the number of years I have been here has helped the most, working on different accounts and sectors.

What has been your favourite event while at the agency?
Working for the Evening Standard on the Get Reading festival. We were a small team so it felt like there was more pressure, and when we delivered, it went really well.

Have you had any mentors or people you have looked up to at GPJ?
Sarah Allnutt was my line manager before she went on maternity leave. She had worked at the company for a long time and understood all of the processes, and took the time to explain the way in which GPJ works. Also, Emma Wilson is one of the most organised people I have ever worked with; she leads a team really well and without fuss, but also with respect.

Lesley Mason, Vice-president, client services

Lesley joined GPJ in 2005 and worked on the Cisco account. Before joining the company she worked client-side for a number of years.

Which is the most memorable event you have worked on?
One of the most exciting and challenging was to take our Cisco Live project to the Middle East in 2010. It exposed us to a completely different culture where you can have everything planned out, and turn up for site visits, then everything changes. However, it was very successful and instigated a lot of new business for Cisco in the region, so we broke new ground.

Has experiential made an impact on your role?
We would call it experience marketing and it has always been part of our DNA because we have a propriety process called strategic experience mapping. We try to get clients to set their objectives, profile their audience in detail and segment them. This gives you a recipe for what you can deliver on-site for a client. We've always embraced the notion of creating a customer journey.

What has been your favourite event?
Cisco House for the London Oympics, a temporary structure we built on top of Westfield shopping centre in Stratford.

It showed GPJ at its best. We didn't want people to have a hard sell - it had to feel like a mixture of a networking space and a place where you could do business, but also somewhere you could enjoy yourself.


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