Geoff Holmes

Geoff Holmes

Co-Founder/Strategy Director, UNCO
Co-Founder/Managing Director, Southern Studios
Bachelor of Business in Marketing & Entrepreneurship and Innovation

He has the best job in the world, says business alumnus Geoff Holmes who is the co-founder of two successful start-ups; boutique ad agency UNCO and production company Southern Studios.

“My work is a mix of creative thinking, problem solving and high-level business strategy for both ourselves and our clients. I’m involved in the day-to-day running of both businesses, directing campaigns for Southern Studios and crafting UNCO’s clients’ digital and social media strategies. For me, it’s the world’s best job!”

Since launching Southern Studios in 2017, followed by UNCO in 2020, Geoff and his team have worked for clients that range from BMW and Canon New Zealand to Farmers and ocean conservation charity Live Ocean.

“At Southern Studios, we’ve worked on a range of production projects from not-for-profit television commercials to nationwide tourism campaigns, all created in-house from concept to creation. At UNCO, we combine performance marketing with data-led creative to help businesses grow through digital and social media.

“I’ve had a number of projects I’m particularly proud of – most recently the new brand film I directed for New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty. My proudest moments constantly change as we grow, and deliver bigger and better work.”

Finding his path

Geoff’s journey towards becoming an entrepreneur and business owner started with enrolling in a Bachelor of Business at AUT.

“I decided to study at AUT because it had the best blend of creative industries and business, and that was ideal for advertising – the area I wanted to work in. I also liked that AUT is easily the most relevant university in the country for marketing in the digital and social era.”

Throughout his time at university it became clear that starting his own business was the right path for him, and Geoff did just that before he even completed his business degree.

“The design thinking and advertising courses I was taking as part of my Bachelor of Business were a big part of what made me question whether I should get a job or start my own business. I then decided to enrol in the ten-week CO.STARTERS entrepreneurial programme at the end of my degree, and that experience helped with refining my decision to start a production company and agency.”

Inspiration and guidance

While Geoff had many memorable experiences throughout his time at AUT, his design thinking courses were what inspired him most.

“My brilliant design thinking lecturer, Dr Amabel Hunting, made me realise that problems can be solved in hundreds of ways and that creativity is nothing but a unique thought. This means that in advertising a creative concept can come from nothing and you don’t need to be a big agency to have an amazing idea; essentially levelling the playing field to just one thing – the idea. That made me fall in love with advertising and the creative industry.”

Having now successfully established his own ad agency and production company, Geoff has some great advice for other students.

“My advice for future students is to make every relationship matter. New Zealand is too small to burn bridges, and everything comes back around.”

Entrepreneurship and Innovation is now a key part of the overall Bachelor of Business; it is no longer offered as a standalone major.

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