My Life’s Work | Sheena Gill, Chairman, GGMR and Shen London
In this weekly series, we meet a Walpole member chief executive to discover what makes them tick, how they define success, and what keeps them awake at night. This week we are delighted to meet Sheena Gill, Chairman of GGMR – the creators of Walpole’s new website – and founder of luxury jewellery brand, Shen London. Sheena discusses her love of the royal family, good manners and maintaining ambition as an entrepreneur.
I didn’t go to University, so started full-time work at 16 and acquired a Business Studies and Finance Diploma in my spare time and then went on to become CIM qualified. I spent a few years in advertising rising through the ranks to Director-level and then side-lined into magazine publishing where my career really took off; managing many staff and big budgets. This was a natural springboard into founding my agency. GGMR is now award-winning and I was honoured to be personally awarded the accolade of one of the UK’s top 50 technology entrepreneurs last year.
What does British luxury mean to you?
British luxury is the benchmark for global comparison. The mark of being British says to me: quality, care, time, precision, craftsmanship and love. I know that particularly with my jewellery brand, nothing gets further than the drawing board without all of these values and that’s what I feel when I buy British luxury; that love is evident.
What’s your vision (for the company)?
GGMR has had great success in the enterprise space and held some hugely important roles on behalf of the British Royal Family’s digital estate but would very much like to see GGMR known for creating great loyalty platforms and programmes on behalf of our clients. There is a lot of room for this in the British luxury market.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
It’s corny I know, but my children.
Also, being named in The Times Fast Track 100 listing two years in a row. It felt quite surreal that we had achieved that from how we started 15 years ago – in a bedroom with a mobile phone and a Hotmail account!
How do you define success?
I’d be lying if I didn’t equate it to commercials, so yes, this is top of the list, but also being able to look forward, see a path and know where we’re going. That feels a lot like success too.
What’s your greatest extravagance?
Jewellery! I have a love affair with designing, hence launching the jewellery business.
What do you like most about your job?
I really love the consultancy aspect. I relish working with clients one-on-one and helping solve problems. This largely involves circumnavigating the status quo which gives me huge satisfaction.
It’s terrible to say but I really don’t like ungrateful clients. When you go above and beyond on a project, have sleepless nights achieve the impossible and barely get a thank you, this rarely happens but when it does, I go purple.
What has been your greatest regret?
I think a general regret is not having the guts to let people go when they’re not really up to the task. I’ve learned the hard way, which I’m sure we all have.
What inspires you?
I’m easily inspired and often get overwhelmed by it. I see inspiration all around me; in people, objects, achievements, my family.
What was your big break?
Moving to London when I was 29 and sticking to my guns about the role I wanted in Advertising.
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What is your guiding principle?
Which living person do you most admire?
The Queen. I also massively admire the young royals, they are so hard-working and a lot of what they do is below the radar. They have really connected with the needs of the country, particularly mental health.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I’m far too polite to commit those to paper!
What keeps you awake at night?
I fall asleep reading every night – without a good absorbing book, I’d be awake pondering everything for hours.
What do you most value in your friends?
The fact that they are always there for me whatever I need, whenever I need it, often without asking. I’m blessed to have such dear life-long friendships.
In a parallel life, what would you be doing?
I trained early on to be a Police Officer but I think now I’d rather be a cowgirl working my own ranch.
What piece of advice would you give someone entering the luxury industry now?
- Stay true to your product and ambition
- Know your numbers, market and distribution channel
- Love your product