Behind New Business: Phil Wilson Talks Partnership

Behind New Business: Phil Wilson Talks Partnership

Behind New Business: Phil Wilson Talks Partnership 150 150 Chute Gerdeman

With a seasoned agency background on both the client engagement and consumer engagement sides, how do you see your experience benefitting the Chute Gerdeman team?

I enjoy being a connector. My capacity to listen, understand, communicate without bias, and empathize with people all types of backgrounds, both on the agency side and the client side, allows me to quickly identify needs and guide teams to solutions. I also understand multiple facets of business, which helps to keep the big picture in view, both the short- and long-term.

You have a natural ability to connect with people and a desire to build and nurture client relationships. Where did you find your calling?

People are surprised to learn that I am a classic introvert. But, I’ve developed a love for connecting with people; mostly, I enjoy learning what makes people tick and what excites them.

I really care—not just about the excitement of working with new clients, but also about the success of our clients. When clients feel they are at the center of the process, everything else tends to fall into place.

Our work in the design industry has become a much more connected process. Sales, operations, insights, marketing, etc. are all integral roles not only in the client relationship, but also the collaborative process. What’s your perspective on managing and responding to (each) client’s goals?

The spirit of this question really captures it—recognizing that all business areas have an impact on clients, and their experience with us are not siloed and disjointed. Just as we strive to create seamless, fluid, and integrated shopping experiences for our clients, we must create the same with our clients’ experience with us.

Process is important. Roles and responsibilities are important. Relationships and trust are everything. While our people have roles and responsibilities to fulfill, we are all focused on outcomes: our clients’ success.

It’s easier to help clients with a clearly identified need for change, but how do you help guide clients to reach their fullest potential and develop forward thinking initiatives that they have not recognized yet?

That, to me, is the difference between an order taker and a trusted advisor. As an agency, it’s our job to understand our clients, their industry, their products and services, the competitive landscape, their unique customers, and take the initiative to identify needs and develop solutions to fulfill them.

We achieve this with lots of listening and lots of research, while leveraging a proven history of experience and inspired talent.

With stories of Amazon covering the headlines everyday, the subject of “disruption” is often top of mind. What’s your position on the need to innovate, evolve, or disrupt?

In my opinion, Amazon was just a catalyst in a much bigger transformation taking place in many industries. What’s really driving the need to evolve is the evolution of customer expectations. This, “disruption,” isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon. Ford made horses obsolete in transportation. Digital cameras made film obsolete. Streaming digital media made Blockbuster obsolete. And, today, Uber is making traditional taxis obsolete.

There will always be companies that find better ways to do things than others and those companies advance while the others fade into oblivion. Companies must innovate, evolve, and adapt to changing market conditions or die.

The difference today is that ever rapidly advancing technology has greatly increased the rate of change, both in customer expectations as well as how products and services need to be delivered to them.

As much as Amazon and Apple dominate the business landscape today, new companies will undoubtedly come along to supplant them as market leaders. And that is business.

Now that we’ve got the business covered, tell us something about you. What’s something that people might be surprised to know about you (spelling bee champion, you speak four languages, black belt taekwondo, etc.)?

I am insanely curious and I have an insatiable desire to learn new things—industry research, quantum physics, dumb trivia, you name it. Most people are surprised to hear that I have a degree in engineering rather than a degree in a creative, marketing, or business field. Thinking like an engineer is what allows me to break huge problems down into smaller parts so they’re easier to manage and solve. It also pushes me to be more strategic, big picture, and proactive rather than tactical and reactive.

I love to serve and volunteer—one of the many reasons Chute Gerdeman is such a good home for me. Over the years, I’ve mentored dozens of young people, participated in after-school programs, coached young entrepreneurs, and served on boards. I try to give back as much as I can. I feel that’s an important part of being a good citizen and a good person overall.

Also… I’m a big kid and a huge nerd. While I can be an intensely focused businessperson during the day, as soon as I get home I’m on the floor with my kids building all kinds of fancy machines out of LEGOs, running through sprinklers, telling awful dad jokes, or breaking down the latest Marvel movie with friends.


A collection of insights research and observations across retail, restaurant, c-store and grocery. Helping brands provide a better experience for their customers. Enjoy.

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