Get To Know: Raoul Shah - THAT GORILLA BRAND

Get To Know: Raoul Shah

Get to know ... our Non-Executive Director, Raoul (also Founder and Joint CEO, Exposure) on safaris, style icons and a very old terrapin.
Get To Know: Casey Gripari Reading Get To Know: Raoul Shah 5 minutes

Where were you born?

London, UK

 

Where did you grow up?

Between Golders Green and Camden Town, in London.

 

What was your childhood like? What kind of things did you like to

do when you weren’t in school?

I loved football and skateboarding, usually out in the street outside our house. By the time I was 15, I got into seeing all sorts of live bands like The Clash, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Ultra Vox, Kool & the Gang, Afrika Bambaataa and Aswad. During the long summer holidays or at Christmas we would go to Kenyato see my grandparents.

 

Who were your icons when you were growing up?

My heroes would have been Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush of Liverpool FC. My style icons were all bands - Madness, The Specials, The Beat and The Selecter. And I’d say my lead icon would have to be Joe Strummer from The Clash. Culturally, I loved the films Warriors and Quadrophenia.

 

What did you do after you left school?

I went to University of Manchester and got an Honours Degree in Textile Economics and Management. I then went to live in Paris for a few months, working at Agnes B. After that, I came back to London and worked at Pepe Jeans for five years. Then in 1993, when I was 24, I started my own creative communications agency, Exposure, which I still run today.

 

Did you feel an affinity with any particular animal or place when you were growing up?

Visiting Kenya a lot as a child, I was obsessed by wildlife and I loved going on safari. Apart from the Big Five, I loved tigers, which I eventually saw in the wild in India in 2017. I was fascinated by them and would read up a lot about them.

 

As wildlife conservation and environmental action become more urgent and important in our world, has your life at home changed at all?

We’re constantly thinking about how we can do more for wildlife conservation and protecting our planet for the future. We have a lot of greenery inside, plus a very old (almost 50 years old!) terrapin, a tortoise, and a dog, so we cultivate a lot of natural things; we feed a lot of live beings, not just humans! We have become very mindful of the use of water in our home, and especially having Charlotte, our terrapin, and Chloe, our tortoise, water is a very important part of their environment and their well-being, not just our family. And I’ve recently decided to fund a bee-keeping programme in Uganda.

You collaborate with some of the biggest brands in the world today. How do you maintain your optimism that we can marry commercialism with conservation for the future protection of our planet?

Working with brands with such huge societal influence opens up enormous opportunities to drive change. Young people today subscribe more to brands than to politics, so the ability of these brands to change behaviour is incredible, especially as sustainability becomes a nonnegotiable for every brand today. We will soon be launching a new division to our business called Exposure Earth, working with experts in sustainability and regenerative business, led by my business partner Tim. We will work with our clients to do good, and to do better, and to make significant contributions to protecting the earth. With Exposure Earth, we can help them work through the complex and often conflicted commercial space of business alongside environmental impact.

 

What advice would you give your 10-year-old self today?

Be kind to people, give more than you take, and try to remember people’s names.

 

What is a book you have read that has shaped you?

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. It’s about enlightenment, family, our relationship with the world, nature, and spiritualism - every time I read it (and I’ve read it quite a few times!), I learn something new.

 

Who is a hero to you in real life?

Sir David Attenborough.

 

What is one documentary that you have watched that has inspired you or left you feeling hopeful?

Anything by David Attenborough! I’ve watched every show and series he has ever created and continue to love rewatching them. His shows should be part of the school curriculum!

 

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Looking out across Lake Annecy - the quiet and tranquility of that moment is so special. It’s my therapy.

 

What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty and humour.

 

What is your motto?

“Without people, you’re nothing,” as said by the late, great Joe Strummer.

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