Cindy Gallop is a mover and a shaker—literally and figuratively speaking.
As BBH New York’s former chairman tells it, she’s been on planes, trains and automobiles practically since birth. “I was actually born in the UK but grew up in Brunei in Borneo,” she explains. “When I was six, my father got a job there, so I actually grew up in Asia. I sort of think of myself as a global citizen in a sense that my father’s English and my mother is Chinese and I’ve traveled very extensively.”
Nothing has changed in the traveling department since Gallop’s childhood either. She’s constructed her career around moving from one place to another, building her formidable advertising credentials along the way.
Surprisingly enough, however, Gallop’s path to advertising success began in the theater department of her alma mater. “I actually ended up in advertising after a bit of a career swerve because I went to Oxford University and fell in love with theater and drama there, and from that angle that was all I wanted to do,” she tells us. “So I actually started working in theater marketing, acting marketing, [and] publicity for various theaters in the UK, and took four years of basically working every hour G-d gave me and earning chicken feet to finally sell out to the establishment and move into advertising.”
Not that it turned out to be such a stretch, since, as Gallop put it, “advertising is a pretty theatrical business in itself.” She made the official move in 1985, starting as a trainee account exec with London creative agency Ted Bates, where she found that the skills she developed in theater marketing were “imminently translatable.”
But Gallop remained restless over the next four years, jumping first from Ted Bates to creative agency J Walter Thompson, and then Gold Greenless Trott (GGT), before finally joining London-based BBH in 1989—where she remained for the next 16 years.