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ALUMNI > Alumni News > Careers - Nick Thomas

Careers - Nick Thomas

A 40 year career in marketing with an emphasis on the Charity Sector gave Nick the opportunity to make a difference to those in need.
Nick Thomas - Marketing
Nick Thomas - Marketing

After scraping an advertising degree, I managed to win a coveted Creative Circle award which gave me a free pass into a London advertising agency as a junior creative.  One week in, I knew that this was the life for me.  It was fun, creative and gave lots of opportunities for fast career progression - if you could sustain the hectic pace and long hours.  After moving jobs four times in five years, each time for a more elevated job title, I felt I was ready for the big time.  I became a Creative Director at the extravagantly named Waldron Allen Henry and Thompson, whose very swanky offices were dead opposite Harrods.  Punk music along with the Brixton and Tottenham riots meant London was an exciting place in the early 80’s.  The IRA was very active, I was working when they set a bomb off 800 metres away.
I managed to survive London life and over the next few years, I built a useful reputation as someone who could win creative awards, which increased my market value no end.  In time, two other burning ambitions took hold.  The desire to run my own business and the wish to work exclusively with good causes.  Taking a gamble (I had a young family at the time) I took a 60% wage reduction and started Target Direct with a couple of other similarly daft people, Stephen Pidgeon and Pauline Lockier.  Luckily it paid off for us on every level.  Over the next 20 years we helped The Salvation Army, The British Legion, Cancer Research UK, Macmillan, RSPCA, The National Trust, Greenpeace, WWF and others raise hundreds of millions of pounds.  Along the way we also won over 100 awards for our work.  Better still I got to travel the world to help other causes raise their fundraising game.  

At its peak, the Target Group employed over 200 people and eventually we sold the business.  I retired for five minutes before realising I was missing something in my life.  Five years ago I co-founded another fundraising agency, Campfire and today we’re based in Montpellier in Cheltenham where we employ 30 young and talented marketers.  The business still gives me a buzz, even more so since Jess my daughter joined us as Head of Film.
These are selected highlights of the last 40 years and of course there has also been plenty of blood, sweat and tears along the way that I’ve not mentioned!  Working in the charity sector I’ve seen the best and worst of humanity, but still count myself as very lucky.  I’ve managed to build a career in something I care about, met a lot of interesting people and helped give my first born a job that could do the same for her.  It should do, she’s far smarter than me.   

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