Workplace Leaders
Managing Director

Alex Uprichard

Diverse hiring goes beyond the simple fulfilment of quotas; it’s about dismantling barriers to entry and ensuring that the recruitment process is inclusive and equitable at every stage. In her role as Managing Director at IMA-HOME, Alex Uprichard has been instrumental in her organisation’s efforts to bring in a broader range of applicants and establish a working culture which is welcoming to all. 

Max Webber, Co-Host of The Interview, sat down with Alex to discuss everything from ImaHome’s efforts to attract a more diverse range of candidates to the key traits and habits of successful people leaders. 

Alex's Journey

Max: Let’s start with a quick introduction to you and your organisation. 

I’m Alex Uprichard, and I’m the Managing Director of IMA-HOME. I’ve been with the agency for 4.5 years now. I joined to run the paid media team, where I helped to develop a blended approach to paid, owned, and earned media strategies to help deliver the best campaigns for our clients. I served in that role for three years until I became MD last year. IMAHome is a full-service, integrated marketing agency which offers everything from strategy to creative services. With over 350 employees, we’re one of the biggest integrated agencies in the UK outside of London. We’re a global business with our headquarters based in Leeds, as well as offices in Manchester, London, Cape Town, Sydney, and New York. 

Max: What drove you to pursue a career in the world of media and marketing?

Like many people, I fell into it. Growing up, I didn’t know much about marketing, although I’d always had an interest in PR and the recording industry. I went to quite a traditional school where the typical ambition was to become a lawyer or a doctor. After I finished school, I took a gap year and applied for a role as a trainee TV media buyer at McCann’s in Manchester. After I took that job, I quickly learned to love the industry: no two days are ever the same, and there’s always something different, whether it’s dealing with tech innovation or challenging briefs from clients. I was the first person working in media at McCann who didn’t have a degree, though I achieved that at night school as I progressed in my career.

Max: What initiatives have you introduced to help attract a diverse pool of talent to IMA-HOME?

It’s something we’ve really focused on over the last couple of years. One of our foundational initiatives is the establishment of an internal group called “IMA-HOME and Me” which is responsible for implementing our EDI strategy. That includes revising our policies around things like parenting and neurodiversity to make sure we live up to what is expected of a company of our profile. There’s also an educational element, holding working groups on areas like race, ethnicity, and LGBTQIA. It’s our ambition to cultivate a community which can feel like a home for everyone. It’s one thing to attract talent, but you also need to create a welcoming atmosphere if you want people to stay. We’ve always taken an inclusive approach to recruitment, but we’ve increasingly come to realise that we need to think more carefully about who is applying to join us. We still have a lot of work to do to make our industry more accessible by removing barriers to entry and educating young people about the opportunities available to them. For a long time, there was an assumption that you would need a degree to enter the industry, but we’re trying to make ourselves more accessible to non-graduates. We’re also thinking more carefully about where we place our job ads to encourage a broader range of applicants. As part of that, we’ve partnered with a local school in Leeds to provide career advice and mentoring. That’s also given us a lot of insight into what the younger generation thinks and what they want from their careers. Finally, we’re also investing in apprenticeships, and we expect to double the number of apprentices in our company over the next year or two. 

Max: What’s your approach to establishing a sense of inclusion and belonging across the entire organisation?

It’s definitely a challenge. Above all, you need to foster a culture of receptive learning. As a leader, you need to understand that the steps that we built our careers on aren’t necessarily true anymore. So we need to learn from our younger colleagues and make sure we surround ourselves with people who know more about these topics. We’ve worked with a specialist agency called the Avenir Network to deliver workshops on diversity and inclusion and to help us articulate our EDI strategy. If we can create an inclusive workplace, it will not only help us do a better job for our clients but also help our employees to build their skill sets. So we’ve invested in training, and aim to put all of our leaders and committee members through EDI essentials courses. 

Max: What key traits and habits do leaders need to bring their teams together?

It depends on the type of work and the kind of team you are in. It’s important to tailor your style based on who you are working with and what you are trying to achieve. There is no one-size-fits-all approach: you need to have the flexibility and capability to adapt to your circumstances. But on the flip side, you have to be consistent; to be a successful leader, you need to build trust, and you can only do that by showing up and following through on your promises.

Max: How do you articulate the link between employee well-being and the wider commercial goals of a firm? 

I think that link has already been proven. There have been many studies which have shown that businesses which prioritise diversity, inclusion, and well-being see better commercial results. People who feel seen and heard will enjoy their jobs more and want to go the extra mile. But you still need to get the balance right; you can’t let those initiatives get in the way of the work. And it should be fun! In this industry, we have the opportunity to explore some really exciting brands and ideas, so it’s important that people enjoy their work.

Max: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career? 

One thing that’s always stuck with me is “Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” Don’t let your worries get in the way of progress. Whenever I’ve felt that anxiety, it’s been at a time of personal growth and development. You need to learn to see fear as a green light instead of a red light.

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Max Webber
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