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Recruitment Q&A: Jack Morton Worldwide puts focus on junior talent

Agencies of all sizes are looking ahead to the future, with many now actively recruiting. The March issue of Conference News included interviews with nine agencies which are looking to expand, and that has further fuelled talk surrounding skills and the role of freelancers. Those entering the industry, such as post-graduate students and apprentices, could also prove to be a vital cog in the event machine.

Read more: Agencies talk about their recruitment plans

Jack Morton Worldwide is one of the UK’s biggest agencies, and managing director Mike Kunheim (pictured) made time to talk to us about how the business has changed in the last year and how the pandemic has shifted the skillset requirements. Interestingly, Kunheim says that Jack Morton will pay particular attention to bringing in junior talent.

Describe how Jack Morton has changed since the pandemic took hold, and how will you broadly approach the so-called ‘return to (live) business’?

There is no doubt Jack Morton has changed and yet in so many ways we are exactly the same. The accelerated pace of this disruption, which perhaps was needed, has been more of an emphasis shift rather than a wholescale reinvention.

When live experiences went dark, we put a sharper spotlight on our talents and skills in innovation, technology, content, broadcast production and design.  We launched our own virtual platform and leveraged our diverse portfolio of experience offerings with clients. Thanks to brilliant relationships and deep trust that we’ve built over many years, each and every client who was with us at the start of 2020 stayed with us into 2021, and we’ve added a few new ones too. It’s been truly exciting to reimagine what a brand experience can be and also what Jack can be.

As the return to live starts to move from dream to reality, it’s difficult to gaze into our crystal ball and say exactly how it will emerge. I think we can safely say it won’t be one approach – or a one size fits all. Different demographics, sectors and brand cultures will take their own view. We will design our next IRL experiences human first – and that approach should ensure we can create and deliver blended, hybrid and live brand experiences that deeply connect with our client’s audiences.

Has the pandemic shifted the skillset you require from your events personnel; are you placing a greater emphasis on the need for digital skills?

Yes, our skillsets have shifted. Innovation, technology, content and broadcast has formed the backbone of all our client teams. We are also very fortunate to enjoy a successful global collaboration model, 1Jack, which works across all of our offices to bring best in class talent together for clients. This also allows us to share best practices, so we have been able to tap into diverse skillsets during this time.

Tell us about your recruitment plans for 2021, including full/part time staff and the use of freelancers.

One of our on-going agency goals is to attract and hire more diverse talent, both permanent and freelance, and we have developed an inclusive hiring process to ensure we achieve this ambition. Critically, we also plan to continue our investment in hiring junior talent in 2021 as they are so important to our growth.  

New IR35 legislation will impact our industry in 2021. Freelance talent remains an important part of our recruitment strategy and we have recently implemented a new system to resource, contract and pay freelancers effectively and within the IR35 guidelines.