This week Justin Cooke came in to speak to students from the Graduate School Business & Management Cluster.
Justin joined Burberry in 2006, when the brand was associated less with luxury and more with the lewdness of its wearers. By the time he left, in June of last year, the company’s image had been completely turned around. Topshop’s former Chief Marketing Officer and now CEO of innovate7, Justin Cooke presented to a full room at John Princes Street yesterday evening. Dynamic and passionate, Justin shared the wisdom that has afforded him such lucrative positions as Burberry’s Vice President of PR and his stint as CMO at Topshop.
“I was famous for making people cry with my presentations at Burberry,” Justin confessed. To Justin, it is important to have a certain level of emotion in your work. He later told students about how he connected with Christopher Bailey on an emotional level after the Chief Creative Officer lost his partner. “We were sat talking for hours”.
After his tenure at Burberry, Justin moved to Topshop, where he gave shoppers the first chance to customise a live catwalk. “Were you worried about taking a risk by moving from luxury to high street?” one student later asked. “They took a risk by hiring me!” he replied.
Taking risks can only be a positive thing in Justin’s eyes. Throughout the talk, there is an emphasis on being innovative and thinking outside of the box. Part of the reason why Justin decided to start up his own company, innovate7, was to quench his thirst for innovation and development.
Referring to the students sat in front of him, Justin noted, “You’re very lucky to have [lecturers] that know how to translate their knowledge,” adding that the college itself is an “unbelievable opportunity” to develop.
Much of the talk was dedicated to students seeking advice from the hugely successful CEO, but one student dared to ask the question on everyone’s lips: “Are you hiring?”. Thankfully Justin is as eager to offer an opportunity, as he is to advise – as long as you’re the very best at what you’re doing. “I must be inspired by the most junior person in the office,” he told the girl in question.