Chairman & CEO, Havas UK & Europe
Chris Hirst is a change agent, widely recognized as an innovative and inspirational leader.
After a decade in CEO positions he has a proven track record of leading transformation – guiding his businesses to deliver reputational change, growth and a culture of enduring success.
Chris is currently CEO and Chairman of Havas UK and Europe. As UK CEO he leads 1,800 people across both Creative and Media disciplines working within the European HQ in Kings Cross.
This truly integrated agency is a model many in the industry are looking to emulate and is a move Chris has overseen since he joined the business in 2015. Havas now has an unrivalled breadth and depth of capability under one brand and in a single location, making it one of London’s most exciting and talked about communications businesses.
Chris was previously CEO at Grey London. Under his leadership, the agency went from being a failing, ‘safe but dull’ agency to the hottest creative shop in London. During his 6 years as CEO, Grey London was the fastest growing (doubling its size) agency in London – named IPA agency of the year in 2014.
Chris went to his local state secondary school in Northumberland, before heading to Brasenose College Oxford to study Engineering Science. After an apprenticeship at Pilkington Glass in St. Helens he embarked on (an unlikely) career in advertising.
After a decade establishing his ability in outstanding account management, Chris went to Harvard Business School (2008) where he developed his unique and now proven, approach to leadership.
He believes in the principles of an open culture – where people are given permission to thrive and take risks – accepting that mistakes are a necessary part of success. He is actively engaged in broadening the appeal of the advertising industry and sees diversity and social mobility as key factors in the future health of the creative industries in the UK and Europe.
Chris is the current Chairman of the IPA Effectiveness Leadership Group, holds a seat on the council of the Creative Industries Federation and the IPA Council, is a member of the Vivendi UK Committee and a trustee of the MOBO Foundation. He also holds a number of non-exec positions within the startup community.
Chris is a regular speaker at industry events and commentator in national press including BBC News, ITV News, The Politics Show, Evening Standard, FT and Sky News.