Chris Byrne OW
What are your fondest memories of being at Warwick School?
Drama classes and rugby matches at the weekend.
I can't emphasise how important communication and confidence is in the working world. Theatre definitely gave me that boost.
For rugby, those rainy days covered in mud helped forge friendships, build grit, and encouraged teamwork.
Where and what did you study after leaving Warwick? What did you enjoy about it/what did it give you?
I studied International Business at Loughborough University. On one hand it was great because it allowed me to travel. On the other hand, it was quite remote and I missed the buzz of a big city.
Working in branding and advertising, I've also realised the importance of the notoriety of the university. I'd encourage folks to consider that aspect.
What is your current role?
I'm SVP (Senior Vice President) at a global advertising agency (Media.Monks). We produce ads, websites, and physical experiences for well-known tech companies.
Our company has 7,000 employees and 35 different offices. I lead one of our top 5 clients with revenue of $30m, and report to the CEO of the company.
Has your career had any unexpected or unusual twists?
Yes. I received a lower mark in my A-Levels and had to take a gap year to restudy for the exam. But, that year changed my life. I taught at a summer camp in California, which started a long-term love affair with Los Angeles. I ended up getting a job for a film production company, which kickstarted my advertising career.
I'm now lucky enough to live in Los Angeles permanently with sunshine all year round.
Have you been involved in any other interesting activities/occupations since leaving school?
During my gap year, I explored a bunch of peculiar activities - my logic was that this'll never happen again. I ended up being a qualified butcher, a social worker, and learned French with the help of evening courses at the Warwickshire College.
After university, I moved to Amsterdam and worked for an ad agency for a couple of years. I travelled all across Europe for business, which was fun and fascinating!
How has your time at Warwick helped you in your career?
A healthy learning environment paired with competitive sports helped me develop a sense of confidence. That confidence has helped me go far!
Did any one person at Warwick have a positive influence on you and/or your career aspirations?
Mr John Jefferies. His incredible energy and positivity, along with his weekend study sessions, ensured that many of us succeeded. Huge thank you to him - an unsung hero.
Are there any other defining points in your career/life post Warwick that you could share?
Spending my gap year in the US (instead of visiting Thailand etc.) was incredibly productive. It set the tone for the rest of my career, and created a huge amount of opportunities. I'd encourage any Warwickian to do the same.
Are you still in touch with other OWs and if so, do you get together?
Yes, a couple are even coming to my wedding.
What advice would you give to your teenage self?
Aim for the best grades (work even harder than I did).
Choose a super well-known university (it will open doors in the future).
Do not doubt the importance of drama and theatre.
Work for a tech company like Google, Apple etc. (stock options can change your life financially).
Video games can come later!