The boss who loves gangster rap and tequila
Posted Thursday, July 26 2012 at 17:33
TIM SMYTH, Founder & CEO at Flame Tree Ltd
- Group CEO at TBWA East Africa
- CEO, Ogilvy Africa at Ogilvy & Mather
- Managing Director East Africa at Millward Brown
- Managing Director at Indochina Research Ltd
- Managing Director at Silk Road Cambodia Ltd
The back of Tim Smyth’s business card morbidly bears a skull and crossbones with the words; “ Change the rules.”
“Pirates,” he explains the graphics,“ are passionate, they have lots of fun and they drink a lot.” He then stares at the skull adoringly before adding, “We at TBW don’t want to break rules made by someone else. We want to change the rules all together.” Fair enough.
Tim – an Australian - has 20 years experience in market services industry across sub-Saharan Africa.
He’s also the founder of his own agency, a group of six companies in South East Asia that he ran for 15 years before relocating to Africa.
He serviced major global clients in 16 countries across Asia, Africa and South America, offering them communication and rebranding solutions.
We meet at Sankara Hotel’s rooftop, by the pool, and the conversation that ensues can only be described as “quirky and dark”, but fun.
Because you’re Australian, I’m of the idea that we take a picture of you by the pool. Did you remember to carry your swimming trunks?
(Laughs) Yes, I wore them inside. But me being Australian is not more about surfing and rugby, all, which I engaged in actively during my younger days, it’s more to do with drinking. We are professional drinkers.
Is that right? What is your drink of choice?
Tequila. Good tequila. Tequila is a great party lightener.
Being in your industry, I assume, calls for a very hectic drinking lifestyle?
Yes, we work hard and play hard. We always throw office parties, it’s a culture. Some of these parties involve wearing a bra over my shirt, like I did recently.
Hang on, did you just say you wore a bra over your shirt! Is that on the record?
(Laughs) Yes. Wearing this bra is the penalty imposed on those who miss staff parties or flout other company regulations. It’s an idea that was started by the TBW agency in South Africa. We call it The Bra of Shame and it doesn’t matter who you are, you break rules, you have to wear it.