New SMG Lighthouse chief – watch this space. Aaron van Schaik co-founded Lighthouse Digital media agency in 2009. He has recently been made CEO of SMG Lighthouse, an alignment between Lighthouse and Starcom MediaVest under the Publicis Groupe.
What drew you to the media? The innovation and pace of the industry.
Do you have any hidden talents? Yes, a few – but they’re staying hidden!
What is your best characteristic and biggest flaw? My best characteristic is that I take things very personally. My biggest flaw is that I take things very personally.
If you weren’t in media what would you be doing? Something that lets me work with my hands, something practical.
What moment do you regard as career defining? Starting Lighthouse Digital and joining SMG.
What have you learned the hard way? That the success of anything is down to the people with whom you choose to work.
What is the best and the worst advice you have ever been given? The best advice I’ve been given in business is to make decisions quickly. In terms of the worst advice, I’m sure I’ve been given a lot, but I only remember the good advice.
Who do you admire most? People who have achieved success on their own terms.
What quote best describes the way you see the world? Be wherever you are.
What is your favourite holiday spot and why? [French ski resort] Val D’Isère: I love the weather contrast from a South African summer and enjoy creating good memories with friends and family.
What book do you wish you had written? ‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac.
If you had a tattoo, what would it be of? I’m not into tattoos, so none!
What are you addicted to? Coffee!
What are you afraid of? The mundane.
What do you regret most? I think it is hard to have regrets if you are happy with who you are. These things have a knock-on effect.
What cheers you up most? The ocean.
What were you doing before you founded Lighthouse Digital? I was MD of another digital media agency.
You’re a digital man and SMG is still predominantly a traditional media company. What changes are you going to make? Is there such a thing as a traditional media company anymore? I believe that the media environment is such that we can’t look at it in silos anymore. I’m confident that by merging Lighthouse’s digital expertise with SMG’s current traditional offerings, clients will be the biggest beneficiaries. After all, digital is just another channel with specific attributes that adds to the greater media solution.
You have some big shoes to fill. What have you learned from [former SMG CEO] Gordon Patterson that you will take into your new position? I have great respect for Gordon and believe that he’s built a remarkable group of companies. Having said that, I also believe that every leader has their own unique flair and management style. It’s my intention to continue growing the SMG brands, which have strong client and staff bases in place – but with a touch of my own flavour of course!
Do you have any big plans you would like to implement? There are always big plans on the horizon – watch this space!
This story was first published in the May 2014 issue of The Media magazine.
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