Sophie Daranyi, who heads integrated marketing agency Haygarth, says always look forward, not back

Working with her senior management team, Daranyi is responsible for the overall general management and reputation of Haygarth as well as being actively involved in both new business and existing clients. She currently heads up the Dairy Crest and Premier Foods accounts as well as providing strategic input on a number of other clients including Signet and Majestic Wine.

Daranyi says that her greatest challenge is to maintain agency success and growth in a tough environment. “We’ve had some fantastic client wins over the past few months but I’m always very conscious that we cannot rest on our laurels”, although she adds that this being the summer, her most immediate challenge is “getting ready for going on holiday on Saturday, there seems to be so much to do before I go …”

Daranyi really enjoys working with talented, young, creative people – both at the agency and with clients. She says: “I love the fact that we work in such a multifaceted environment with a huge range of different opportunities and challenges each day. I also particularly enjoy the strategic planning required at this time of the year – whether it be developing a new creative platform or demonstrating added brand value. The skills that Daranyi believes are most useful for this are the ability to see the big picture, commercial nouse, direct and clear communication skills and a sense of humour. She adds: “Whilst obviously these have been honed over the past 20 years – on both sides of the client and agency fence to be honest, many of them have to be part of your natural make-up. The one area I’ve particularly developed over the past few years is commercial acumen.  It’s obviously essential for an agency head to have a confident, intuitive and immediate handle on the numbers and that ability just grows through close work with both our financial director and our wider management team.”

Daranyi believes that it is vital to deliver what you say you’re going to. Talking about PR evaluation, she says: “I find it particularly frustrating to read about and still have to reassure clients about PR measurement and evaluation. I believe that there is no silver bullet to this challenge and the constant debate in marketing and communication press created by our own industry undermines PR’s role in the marketing mix. Any activity can be measured by a combination of qualitative and quantitative evaluation, it’s a matter of ensuring that the key performance indicators are clear upfront and ensuring the time and resource to measure effectively. It’s time for us to have more confidence in what we do. As the head of an integrated agency I know that evaluation in other areas in the marketing mix face similar challenges, but are better at addressing them.”

One piece of advice that has stood Daranyi in good stead is to always look ahead. She explains: “One of my initial bosses taught me to look forward, not back. There’s no point dwelling too much on the past, gain any key learnings and just move on.” Another piece of wisdom she has learnt is ‘what goes around comes around’: “Whilst it’s an old cliché it is absolutely true. It’s essential to behave politely and professionally in whatever you do. I find rudeness intolerable.”

Daranyi has always had an interest in the media world and so when starting her career was attracted to either advertising, publishing or PR. She says, “a job at Leslie Bishop (subsequently Shandwick) came up and my career got started. I never set out with ruthless ambition but am very happy to have achieved what I have – it’s a constant source of delight and surprise to have such a great job.”

Although she loves her work, Daranyi does confess to there having been a few cringe-making moments (sometimes involving alcohol) when she was younger. She says, “ having to say ‘will you have sex with me’ in Hungarian as an account executive in a presentation to Durex was hugely embarrassing. Overall, though, most of my experiences have been good!”

Career history
1999-present: Joined Haygarth, becoming managing director in 2002 and taking the role of CEO in 2008
1993-99: Seagram Spirits & Wine Group
1990-93: Richard Mulcaster & Associates
1988-90: Shandwick