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5+ Years at Passion: SEO Executive to Operations Director


Hamish joined Passion Digital shortly after the company started, when it was just a few of us based in a little mews next to Clapham Common, specifically right behind the rather infamous nightclub named Infernos!

He gave us his absolute all, which allowed him to progress rapidly right through the ranks, enjoying 5 ½ very happy years at Passion Digital. Before he moved on, we asked him to note down some of his lasting memories and thoughts on what life at Passion Digital has to offer.

First things first, moving on from Passion Digital feels very strange indeed. ‘Gut-wrenching’ is actually the best way to describe it, as I have the utmost respect for my colleagues here on a professional and personal level. They’re a talented, dedicated, diligent and – yes – ‘passionate’ bunch. For various reasons though, the time has come to depart.

So why do I feel so strongly about Passion Digital?

Well, whilst at university I’d started a business selling woollen products online, which became reasonably successful. Once I’d sorted the physical logistics, my attention shifted to the marketing side of things, where it quickly became apparent that my approach to all things digital was going to make the enterprise either succeed or fail.

I taught myself the basics regarding web design, development and marketing, but once my degree was finished, I knew I wanted to turn my newly acquired surface-knowledge into something more developed.

Looking back now, the truth is that little business provided me with far more practical skills than my actual degree! It also highlighted how few companies were effectively exploiting the massive potential the digital world offered.

Joining an agency was therefore the next logical step in learning the craft. I reasoned that if I joined a smaller agency, I’d be given better opportunities to see more clients and experience the full digital mix. Fortunately for me, Mike Grindy – our CEO and founder – had just started Passion Digital, so he gave me a shot in a junior role in the SEO department, based purely on my modest achievements with the little business.

In that first year, it became clear that my logic was thankfully sound. At Passion Digital it’s impossible to become siloed into doing a singular activity; you’re exposed to everything, including the raw commercials, right from the start. If you want to jump in at the deep end, learning the intricacies of all channel activity alongside the soft skills of client management and teamwork on the job, then Passion Digital is a truly wonderful environment to be in.

Of course, given the above, there were certainly times when the work was testing and late nights for a period became the norm, but this was exciting too; a symptom of the growing pains any ambitious company wants to be having. The reason that myself and others were willing to do this with a smile was because we were positively invested in the company.

We were – and continue to be – a bunch of like-minded, slightly geeky friends, all united on a fixed vision of becoming one of the finest digital agencies in the UK. Sizeable client wins over the years, along with too many awards to mention, hopefully attest that we’re moving steadily in that direction.

I should also note that Mike has always understood that happy people are productive people, meaning all the standard Silicon Valley style perks have been in place since inception, creating a lovely working environment where people feel able to be themselves. As such, the team bring along their full brain, not just their work brain, to the office. That may sound silly, but the improvement it has on output is genuine and it’s something which benefits all parties.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but here you can see my trajectory within the company:

  1. SEO Executive
  2. SEO Manager
  3. Interim Head of SEO
  4. Account Manager
  5. Senior Account Manager
  6. Operations Director

I should add that this is by no means exceptional, as we have plenty in the company who joined as interns, yet now perform integral roles brilliantly only a few years later.

Clearly to do the same in a large agency in such a short space of time simply wouldn’t be possible. If you’re willing to commit, learn fast and evolve as needs require, then at Passion Digital you really can turbocharge your career.

It’s only when I speak to those working in different companies and in different sectors that I realise just what a unique setup we have here. There honestly are no egos, no office politics, no bad blood; just a collegial atmosphere of skilled professionals, all of whom are good eggs. I will miss them all dearly.

Walking into that little mews on my first day, I had no idea that years later I’d be one of the Senior Management Team, helping orchestrate the running of a 40+ team, doing exceptional work for household names. Yet due to the constructively fluid nature of career development at Passion Digital, this dream scenario became a reality.

It’s been a journey I feel very privileged to have been a part of and I cannot recommend the team highly enough.

– Hamish