Navigating the Transition: The Evolution of Agency Leadership

Starting an agency is a rollercoaster of experiences, marked by stress, uncertainty, and immense satisfaction. However, as your agency grows, the role of a founder often evolves from being hands-on creative to a leadership position. This transition can be challenging, requiring you to relinquish the creative reins and embrace a broader set of responsibilities.

To shed light on this journey, we sat down with Kelly Molson, Founder and MD of Rubber Cheese, to gain insights into how she faced navigating the transition.

Embracing Growth: A Pivotal Decision

“Every day is a learning day when it comes to stuff like that,” Kelly remarks, reflecting on her journey. She recalls her early days in a production role, along with her Co-Founder, Paul Wright. Approaching their thirties, they faced a pivotal question: Would they remain a duo, or did they want to foster growth? The decision to expand meant restructuring the agency, leading to some profound changes and then navigating the transition.

Navigating the Transition in Roles: Creative to Leader

Kelly began navigating the transition by stepping away from the production side. The agency hired a designer to take on her creative responsibilities. This marked the start of a two-year transformation that she candidly describes as a journey of struggle. “I’m not going to lie. I really struggled coming from a creative background, suddenly being thrown into a world of spreadsheets and pipeline and profit and loss,” she admits. The transition wasn’t just about relinquishing tasks; it was about embracing the multifaceted role of a business owner, including people management—a facet she had never encountered before.

Navigating Psychological Complexities

One aspect that Kelly grappled with was the psychological impact of giving up a creative role. She shares that she initially felt a pang of resentment. Her Co-Founder, Paul, continued to thrive in his Creative Director position, seemingly holding on to the realm he excelled in. Kelly’s journey underscores the emotional complexities that arise when stepping out of a familiar space into uncharted territories of leadership. But how did she handle navigating the transition?

The Power of a Support Network

Navigating this psychological terrain necessitated a support network. Kelly stresses the value of surrounding oneself with a community of agency peers. She found solace and guidance within Agency Collective—a network that provided her with the opportunity to connect with those who had traversed similar paths. The ability to ask questions and learn from others who had gone through similar experiences became invaluable during her transition.

Cultivating Growth and Transformation

In Kelly’s words, “And that’s probably the best thing that I did, is just try and build up as many agency contacts as I possibly could, who would support me through that journey of pain.”

Kelly’s journey exemplifies the transformation that agency leaders often undergo. The creative energy that initially propelled the agency forward can evolve into a different kind of dynamism—a dynamic that steers the agency through the intricacies of business management, strategy, and leadership. While the transition may be fraught with challenges, it also presents opportunities for growth, both personally and professionally.

A Path of Challenges and Opportunities

The evolution from a creative role to an agency leader involves traversing uncharted territories. Kelly Molson’s journey with Rubber Cheese serves as a poignant example of how this transition, while challenging, can lead to transformative growth. Embracing change, building a support network, and acknowledging the psychological complexities are all part of the process. As agencies continue to evolve, the journey of giving up a creative role paves the way for new dimensions of leadership and success.

For a deeper dive into Kelly’s journey and to discover how Rubber Cheese successfully navigated niche positioning within the tourism industry amidst the pandemic, tune in to The Agency Collective Tales podcast.

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kelly Molson

Kelly Molson, Managing Director, RubberCheese

Kelly Molson is the Managing Director of RubberCheese. Once upon a time she was a designer with branding, packaging and web design as her bread and butter. Now you’ll find her running digital workshops or improving internal processes to make Rubber Cheese as amazing as it can be.

She’s an advocate to the value of networking and helping others, having built the business on that very foundation. Attending mastermind sessions with other business owners ensures she’s always helping others and continually improving herself.

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