Creative Talk With Mark Hurley
What's your digital philosophy?
User experience is at the heart of everything we do. We are always looking to simplify and humanise all of our digital solutions to ensure that the experience the end user has is engaging, responsive, enjoyable and intuitive.
Who have been your biggest creative inspirations?
I wouldn't say my biggest inspiration, but I have always been really impressed by the work produced at Code and Theory. The user experience work they have completed for Mashable.com across phone, tablet and desktop is industry leading. I also really like what they’ve done with the UI on Vogue.com. They seem to consistently knock it out of the park for some of the world's largest companies.
Who is the one individual who has influenced you most professionally and why?
I would have to say my mum, Lynda Hurley. An exceptionally strong and giving women, she taught me that hard work is at the centre of everything good. She encouraged (and funded) my early entrepreneurial spirit, and has been a huge influence on me professionally across the board.
What has been the career path that has led you to where you are now?
I started my first company at the age of 17 and I have owned and managed my own businesses since then. I owned an apparel-based design company for 10 years, so have always been design/aesthetic focused. This apparel business rented out desk space to independent contractors to help us pay the rent. Mike Little, a freelance web developer at the time, rented one of these spots. Through this introduction Little Giant was born, and we still retain a partnership in the business three years later.
What characteristics do you look for when hiring creative talent, either freelance or permanent?
Attitude and personality are so important for us across the team, not just creative talent. We look for someone who is going to contribute positively to the company culture. Obviously experience and expertise matter, but first and foremost we need to ensure their attitude and personality aligns with what we are trying to grow here at Little Giant. So someone who relates well to colleagues, is positive in nature, enjoys the field they are in, works collaboratively, strives to make others around them better and really wants to invest themselves into something special (not just collect a paycheck).
Is it imperative that the creative hires you make have prior industry experience?
Absolutely, we need to see a track record of success.
What's the one campaign (either domestic or international) that's impressed you the most in the last 12 months?
I really enjoyed the Burger King NZ pre-roll ads by Colenso BBDO. Brett Colliver and Si Vicars do some of Australasia’s best work. I particularly liked this idea because it is digital based, plays on the medium it is being served through, and is highly targeted to the audience based on their YouTube search. With 64 ad variations, the targeting ranges from broad to extremely specific. I believe they even have an ad specifically for the search term "North Korean babies play the guitar".
What would you say are your biggest career achievements so far?
Building the team and culture we have here at Little Giant. We have 20 extremely smart and talented people working together in a really fun and collaborative environment. We understood early on that our company needed to put its people first - essentially their time is what we are selling. For us to be successful we needed the best people, and we needed them to be happy and motivated. So everything we have done has been focused around building this culture of excellence and enjoyment. I am really proud of what we have built in this regard.
How has the digital industry changed in the last few years?
Something that has been a noticeable change for us is the percentage of projects that now require API integration with third party software. Uptake of cloud-based software in our clients’ workflow is huge. No longer are websites purely marketing collateral, the sites we are building include complex content management software that integrate with our clients’ third party inventory management, CRM, accounting and POS software. The website has become the centre of our clients’ software solution, and therefore becomes a cloud-based hub from which important business processes are managed.
And where do you see the digital industry in New Zealand heading in the next decade?
For a geographically isolated nation like NZ, digital represents a huge opportunity for kiwi companies to compete on the global stage without the limitations of physical distribution. You can already see companies like Xero, Diligent and Vend creating world-leading products in the digital space. To say I am bullish on the digital industry in NZ is an understatement. I see a massive amount of growth and innovation in our future, domestically and internationally.