Business Leader of the Year: Grant Mansfield, Plimsoll Productions
Grant Mansfield is chief executive and founder of the TV production studio Plimsoll Productions, which creates programming for the likes of National Geographic and the BBC
On A Rapid Rise To The Top
I’m delighted and honoured to win this award. It’s a recognition of the extraordinary job my colleagues have done in building a business from a start-up just five years ago to not only one of the UK’s largest independent production companies, but also one with a real international profile.
Although we are proudly headquartered in Bristol, from the very beginning my business partner, chief operating officer Christine Owen, and I had big ambitions overseas. In particular, I targeted the biggest TV market of them all, the US. I’d lived and worked in Los Angeles and New York for three years (as chief executive of RDF US) immediately prior to setting up Plimsoll, so it felt like the right sort of ambition.
On Championing Expertise
An early appointment for us was Andrew Jackson (Plimsoll’s president of international production and development). He is a former head of the BBC’s Natural History Unit and worked in the US as a network executive at Discovery. Several of our producers – notably the Emmy award-winner Tom Hugh-Jones and Emmy-nominated Martha Holmes – had produced hit shows there too.
The ‘secret’ of our success is to hire world-class talent, treat and reward them well, and focus continuously on creating a supportive and respectful workplace where they feel they can do their best work.
There’s a terrific esprit de corps at Plimsoll, fostered, we believe, by hiring great producers who are also great people and by ‘extras’ that make the company a great place to work. This year we gave all staff an extra week’s holiday and completely shut the office twice a year so we can all volunteer together at a local community project.
On Being Truly International
These days we are as likely to be found in the LA offices of Netflix as the London offices of the BBC (although the UK market remains crucial to our creative and commercial aspirations). In five years, we have gone from five staff to more than 300, employed on series for clients all around the world. We are in our sixth financial year now and we will turn over around 40m. Significantly, 75pc of Plimsoll’s income is now derived from outside the UK.
Looking ahead, we want to remain focused on expanding both our domestic and international business. In the past year, our crews have shot films on every continent on the planet, and we have sold out shows in dozens of countries. Content creation is now a truly global business, so if you’re going to succeed, you have to recognise that the market is essentially the whole world and you have to broaden your horizons accordingly.