A coffee with Steve Quah

Welcome back to our agency profile series (the Côte d’Azur Edition). Over a cafe creme, we sat down with our founder and CEO, Steve Quah, to discuss how he keeps the creative spark alive in a global agency. 

See transcription below:

I am Steve Quah, I am CEO of Cheerful Twentyfirst. We are a Brand Experience agency based in London, New York, and freshly squeezed in Amsterdam. 

I like my coffee normally as a White Americano, but as we are in Cannes in France…I’ve learnt to say it’s a Cafe Creme. Delicious. 

So we’ve actually been in Lions for the last 14 years, during which we’ve built up a whole wealth of experience, there’s a lot of expertise actually working on the ground. The challenge here, is that there are a lot of brands shouting against other brands. Where they come to us, is actually understanding that brand connection with their audience and understanding why they are here. It’s an opportunity for the agency to delve into all their experiences, so it’s a really, really rich stream for us.

If you look at the brands we work with, they do have a global presence. So, the fact that we’re working for an American brand in the South of France or a European brand and in Singapore, is actually how we operate now. And that’s because we have been fortunate enough to scale up and have been brave enough to kind of open in these markets…and we will continue to do that. 

I am in the team. The team don’t work for me.

Steve Quah

We’re a creative agency at heart, but it needs to be fed and nurtured. We need to create the kind of environments, opportunities, and spaces for people to think. We have a program called ‘Summer of Ideas’ where the team can pick to go to an art show, we encourage that. It all feeds back to, why we are here, the creative idea feeds into the solution 

It kind of guides me as a CEO as well. The company’s a big creative project in itself and I lead by example, lead from the front, lead by collaboration. I am in the team. The team don’t work for me. I think everyone has a voice and it’s naturally encouraged and I think we’re fairly unique in that. That’s because it’s come from the ground up, from someone who was working to that deadline when he was a young kid, you know, and I’m privileged to be able to lead such a beautiful creative agency, such as Cheerful Twentyfirst. 

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