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Twenty/Twenty mentoring journeys: In conversation with… Andy Gray

Having embarked on the Twenty/Twenty programme twice, we take a look at how becoming a mentee helped Andy Gray, Founder and Managing Director at StudioLR, take his business from strength to strength.

image-assetIt’s been over three years since your first Twenty/Twenty experience and just over a year since your second. How have the two compared?

Andy: “I’ve had entirely different experiences with two different mentors, but there’s something to be gained from each one. You have to come in with a really open mind and hold onto the little gems of wisdom that will become vital in the future.

I shared a very business-focused relationship with my first mentor, Andrew Eyles (CEO and Co-Founder of Bluemarlin). It was transformative and helped me understand how to move StudioLR from a design studio to a design business (which just so happens to be called a studio). We take a steer from his advice at the company to this day, in the way we employ, our focus and direction. My time with Andrew was really practical, it was like working directly with a business coach.

Continuing my development with Myles Pinfold (Founder and MD of WPA Pinfold) the second time round was equally valuable. Myles shared his experiences of how he built a successful design business. Having Myles as a sounding board has boosted my confidence to make changes (and in some cases the confidence not to), which keep me focused on moving forward.

I was so impressed with the transformational experience Twenty/Twenty had last time that I asked our Design Director, Dave King to join the programme too. Wanting to take the step up to Creative Director, he started working with a London based CD. He has grown in confidence – the tools he’s gained have been invaluable to making that crucial step.”

What impact has undertaking the programme had on your company?

Andy: “Andrew helped me understand how to be more commercially minded; since then we’ve had our most successful years. The real value has come from how we approach our business now. There’s a confidence and understanding in who we are and where we’re heading. Being consistently conscientious of our aims and strategy has led to exciting things – we’ve won two D&ADs (Writing for brands and Identity Design), the Marketing Society Star Awards’ SME agency of the year 2019, top honours at the Scottish Design Awards (including Grand Prix, and Design Team of the year) and even more.”

Did you face any challenges and if so, how did you overcome them?

Andy: “The only real challenge when working with Andrew was that he was London-based, and I was Edinburgh-based, but we were really good at making the time to meet. We held a quarter of the meetings in London, a quarter by Skype, and he took the time to meet me in Edinburgh.”

Why did you decide to apply to the Twenty/Twenty mentoring programme?

Andy: “We were already big supporters of the DBA and the value of the resources that we get as members. When we heard about the Twenty/Twenty programme, it sounded like the perfect thing to help take our business to the next level.”

events-mentor-1-167x167DBA Twenty/Twenty mentoring

DBA Twenty/Twenty pairs rising industry leaders with established design pioneers for a 12-month one-to-one mentoring relationship. Why not think about what development you need right now, or what insight you can give back to the design industry. Find out more and apply.


Deadline for applications is Friday 4 December 2020. 


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