Shaper: Sir Martin Sorrell

Sir Martin Sorrell is the Founder of WPP – the advertising and marketing services group, and S4 Capital – an advertising and marketing company for the digital age.

Sir Martin was CEO of WPP for 33 years, building it from a £1 million “shell” company in 1985 into the world’s largest advertising and marketing services company. Prior to that, he was Group Financial Director of Saatchi & Saatchi plc for nine years and worked for James Gulliver, Mark McCormack and Glendinning Associates before that.

Leaving WPP in 2018, Sir Martin established S4 Capital plc in May 2018, merging with MediaMonks, its content practice, in July 2018 and MightyHive, its programmatic practice, in December 2018. Since then it has added eight further content programmatic and data companies to both practices in 2019 and one in 2020. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange under SFOR.L and after a little over one year, S4 Capital plc has over 2400 people in 30 countries, with a market capitalization of over $1.2 billion.

Sir Martin supports a number of leading business schools and universities, including his alma maters, Harvard Business School and Cambridge University and a number of charities, including his family foundation.

Follow Sir Martin on Twitter @martinsorrell.

“Digital is where the growth is.”

“My father used to say you make your own luck by trying as hard as you possibly can but a lot of this is driven by circumstances.”

“Being better means understanding the digital ecosystem more effectively.”

“We were described as being the most naïve class at the Harvard Business School.”

“I am always interested.”

“Advertising is really interesting because you get access to all these companies…and get to see what the clients want, and that is for you to really understand their business.”

“Did we know when we started WPP that eighteen months later we’d make a hostile bid for JWT which was thirteen times our size? No.”

“My dad was really formative – a big influence.”

“(Most of the things we did in class) were about strategic courses and direction, and I think that’s what fashioned me.”

“(My dad) could allocate time to anything and everything. That’s a skill that I don’t have, and it’s a great gift.”

“You have to find somebody who has no agenda.”

“Like all good relationships it transcends the business and becomes the personal.”

“(My dad’s) understanding of people was quite extraordinary, it was almost magical.”