Profile: Aedhmar Hynes, global CEO, Text 100

TEXT AND THE CITY: Aedhmar Hynes has been loyal to Text 100, the global tech agency of which she is CEO, for an astonishing 16 years. 'Sixteen years, I know! Everyone has that reaction, even me,' laughs Hynes. She is talking to PRWeek at the agency's plush offices in west London, during one of her frequent visits to Europe from her New York base.

Hynes is coping well with a hangover after her birthday celebrations the day before (she hit the big four-zero).    Softly spoken, the Irishwoman retains her native lilt, despite having lived in the US for nine years developing the North American arm of Text 100. But it is clear her time stateside has had an influence. Hynes displays an American level of polish – she is smartly dressed and not a hair out of place, despite the previous night's excesses.

Hynes joined Text 100 in 1989 as an account executive at the then European agency. After moving to San Francisco to exploit the tech boom of the late 1990s in Silicon Valley, she was appointed CEO in 2000.

The agency, part of the Next Fifteen Group, now has more than 30 offices, from Boston to Bangalore. Having navigated the post-millennial tech slump, Text 100 is an employer of some 400 staff, and is spreading its tentacles worldwide – last year saw openings in Guangzhou, China and Oslo, Norway.

Hynes's family returns to Ireland for six weeks every summer, an opportunity Hynes uses to visit the European
offices of her global fiefdom. She sometimes uses her business trips to show a bit of the world to her two eldest children (she has four, aged between two and 13). This balancing act between business and family, which she prefers to call ‘blending', is crucial to Hynes. She rises at six each day and spends an hour at her home computer ‘catching up with Europe' before a family breakfast.

After a day's work in Manhattan she insists on leaving at 5pm to have dinner with her professor husband of 17 years, and the children, before logging on again to catch up with Asia. It is a formidable schedule, but one Hynes dismisses with trademark modesty: ‘It's just my life, it isn't necessarily more challenging than anyone else's.' She describes herself as ‘calm', adding: ‘I have a grounded approach, which helps – and a full-time nanny. It's a noisy, fun house, and having kids around makes me feel much more in touch with the digital generation.'

When asked how her career has developed, she says: ‘I've always been interested in businesses and how they are run.' She cites PR, and technology, as originally being of secondary interest. She admits she is lucky that Text 100 has allowed her to ‘blend' – there is that word again – all those interests.

As CEO, Hynes says she can only spend around a third of her time with clients, although she is keen to stress the importance of client-facing work: ‘The client work is what keeps me connected to the business.'

Hynes, who has advised companies such as Xerox, Visa, eBay, Yahoo! and IBM, says the best moment of her career was landing the latter's worldwide account in 2002: ‘That brief took Text 100 from being an agency that wasn't really that well known in the US to one that was seen as a serious player.'

She declines to cite her worst moment, but says she ‘laughs about the fact I took the job of CEO in 2000, just as the tech sector began to tank... very insightful of my predecessor'.

Many who have worked for Hynes are full of praise for how she has shaped the agency. ‘It's a great place, almost like a family,' says Simon Craddock, who recently left Text 100 in New York after six years. ‘Inspirational is an overused word but Aedhmar really is. She's has undoubtedly had a huge influence on the company. She's got to take credit for that.'

Text 100 to the core, Hynes says she cannot conceive working for another agency or even setting up her own business. And for now, interview over, she has a family holiday and European office tour to sort out.


CV

2000: Global CEO, Text 100 (New York)

1997: Regional director, Text 100 (San Francisco)

1995: Joins board of Text 100

1989: Account executive, Text 100 (London)      

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