Marketors’ Freeman Miles Young, who is Warden of New College Oxford, has been interviewed in The Times Business section talking about his new role in university life following his highly successful career with Ogilvy and Mather. He spent 35 years with O & M before stepping down as global Chairman & Chief Executive last summer.
Under the headline ‘Changing career doesn’t mean giving the new job a hard sell’, he reveals that before his final interview for the job of Warden he was warned ‘There is one word which you must on no account use’. He thought this must mean the word ‘God’, but he was told it was ‘strategy’, and that New College has had a strategy for hundreds of years and doesn’t need some smart-alec businessman saying you need a strategy.
Miles is the first ‘ad man’, and he believes also the first businessman, to head an Oxford college. He adds : “The perspectives that business gives are invaluable, but should be much more subtle. You can’t promote an Oxford college like soap powder.” He is keen to bridge the gap between industry and academia when it comes to the perennial debate over skills.
He has some lessons he would like to apply from his advertising career. “In business I encouraged people to listen first, talk second, so that’s what I’m doing.
“Disciplines work best when they are combined. In my business we used psychology, sociology, art and science, ‘Mad Men’ and data men. We need people with skills in logic, analysis and knowhow to make connections and you can get them from any subject in my humble view.”
It is 650 years since the New College founder William of Wykeham, invented the college motto ‘Manners Makyth Man’ which is safe in Miles Young’s hands as he thinks it’s the ‘ best advertising slogan ever written’.