My Media Week: Rakesh Patel, Auto Trader

Rakesh Patel: commercial director, digital at Auto Trader
Rakesh Patel: commercial director, digital at Auto Trader

Rakesh Patel, commercial director, digital at Auto Trader, experiences a high octane week ahead of the new car plate change but still finds time to party with his new neighbours at Havas Village.


The alarm goes off at 6.00am. Usual weekday routine of setting the breakfast out, check my dad/husband duties for the day with my better half and occasional run around the park. Banging house for the commute and in by eight.

As always I’m greeted by my EA Lisa Toms, who ensures all is running as it needs to for the upcoming week. Then straight in to the weekly kick off with the commercial squads. A great start and hats off to the guys for keeping it inspiring despite any early Monday blues. They hide it well.

Monday is my day to hear from the commercial leads; Chris Gawor; Dickson Abegunde; Vicky Hemsley; Brian Nugent; Richard Robinson – I love their humility, but clearly an exciting week lies ahead.

More banging house for the commute back. I encounter a war zone at home but that quickly dissipates with some fatherly direction.


Start the day with an early breakfast with Maxus's Nick Baughan. Always an enlightening catch up. Nick continually makes me feel positive about our industry’s future and reminds me that change is our only constant.

Straight over to meet DAN’s Diversity and Inclusion duo Liz Jones and Ben Antoniou. We regularly catch up and share notes, lots of similarities and good to hear progress being made on both sides.

Back for a weekly with my peer set. I cover off our move to 0% commission. We took a conscious decision to remove commission from the commercial squads and focus on doing the right thing by our customers. Happy to report back that all is going well.

The team from NABS join us in our fortnightly Tribe meeting. As newcomers to supporting NABS, it’s brilliant to get a better understanding of all they do, and we’re blown away by how brilliant they continue to be. 

It's a night out with some media luminaries. I can't find any, so it's curry night with James Hayr, Simon Reed and Steve Edwards. Our quest to launch an Endemol/Hearst/Amazon and Auto Trader creative solution goes on.


Chris, head of agency, and I have breakfast with our new neighbours in King’s Cross, Havas’s Matt Adams and Mark Connolly. We’re then given a personal tour of their new abode. Incredible vistas from the Village.

On the road to see GroupM's Martin Galvin. Power meeting, but interspersed by chat about the joys of being chauffeurs to our kids and challenges with people who don’t have any moral fabric.

This is followed by a walk over to Mindshare to meet Syd Bakan and MediaCom’s Amy Lawrence. Always good to catch up. Molly, Syd's new puppy, has certainly brought on a new facade to the battle-hardened Mr Bakan, much to mine and Amy’s delight.

Pop across to VivaKi’s Farringdon office to see George Constantinou and Dave Mulrenan. Dave, who’s also a father of four, gives his usual parenting tips and much needed counsel. George always seems to see the funny side.

Dinner tonight with DAN’s Dom Williams and Jo Sutherland. Like every catch up I have with Dom, I start by sharing some of my latest challenges of having four kids. This always makes him feel better about his life with three.


Breakfast with PHD's Verica Djurdjevic and Mike Florence. Verica talks through the inspiring Omniwomen conference which was held on International Women’s Day yesterday. It leads to a great discussion on the ongoing industry challenges around inclusion.

Once back Dickson, head of branded content, and I get an update from PR & Events on the busy month ahead.

March is extra busy due to the new car plate change, release of our bi-annual market report (all you need to know about the state of the car marketplace) and an upcoming event at the top of the cheese grater at the end of the month.

Across to MGOMD's new office at Bankside for late lunch with Natalie Bell and Clare Peters. Clare talks me through their new planning approach, which launches imminently. Smart thinking and looking forward to the official launch.

Back to Kings Cross for a coffee with Paul Carolan, a great friend and mentor. We share notes on how inspiring it was to be part of the recent NABS speed mentoring event.

Meet up with our advertising director, Chris Ward. I owe much to "Wardy", and he has certainly brought a more measured way of thinking in to my make-up. Auto Trader prides itself on its culture and values, and Wardy demonstrates it’s just as potent within the senior leadership as it is everywhere else.

And finally I’m off to Havas (our new neighbours) for their office opening party.

Welcoming words from Yannick Bolloré and Chris Hirst, followed by delightful entertainment from James Bay – not a dry eye in the house.

Joining me is our latest senior hire, Ian Plummer, fresh from sitting on VW’s board. The recruitment of top talent like Ian highlights how Auto Trader’s perception has changed in the media world. 40 years of magazine heritage has sometimes made it difficult for us (Auto Trader has been a 100% digital business since 2013), but it’s incredibly rewarding to see perceptions changed by the team’s hard work and creativity.


Kids are excited about it being Friday, me…not so much(#chauffer).

I join MediaCom's Karen Blackett as her guest at Channel 4 and Google’s diversity breakfast. Karen has really helped me understand the role I play when it comes to moving diversity to the top of the agenda. Karen also has us signed up for several great NABS initiatives, including Ride Adland. Go Team Auto Trader!

Make time for a call with PHD’s Steve Taylor. Steve has been a brilliant sounding board and he again demonstrates why the label of genius fits him well.

A quick bite to eat with Zenith's Rob Gold. We hit a chord when talking about one of his major car brands and their aspirations around their retail network.

Final few hours of the day are spent sat with the guys. We debate how KFC is the king of take-aways.

I’m home in time to chauffeur my eldest daughter from Brownies and my eldest son from footie. Once all in bed, I finally get to chill with the wife, watch a horror thriller (her choice) and have a nice glass of ginger ale.

The lowdown

Age: 40
Favourite media: Auto Trader (it’s seriously good) and Mixcloud apps
Biggest inspiration: My wife, as she continually reminds me that "feedback is a gift". Sasha & Digweed are up there too
Dream job: Airbus A380 pilot
One thing not a lot of people know: I was a founding member of Kiss FM Manchester’s Kiss Krew

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