Getty Images CEO Craig Peters on his time in the role and the company’s plan for growth in 2020

Since joining Getty Images in 2007, CEO Craig Peters has worked across the organization, from Vice President of Footage, Music, and Multimedia to leadership roles in the Content, Product, Marketing, Technology and Business Development departments. Since Peters transitioned from COO to CEO in January 2019, he has focused on both maintaining and advancing the company’s distinct culture, in addition to staying on top of ever-changing technologies. Ladders spoke with Getty Images CEO Craig Peters to hear his thoughts on his time as CEO thus far, the company’s shared principles, and how the future of work plays into the company’s operations.

What’s been the most surprising aspect of being CEO of Getty Images since you took over the role in January?

“Having been with the company since 2007, I was already very familiar with its compelling content, culture, and customers upon stepping into the CEO role. Given that familiarity, the biggest surprise transitioning from COO to CEO has been the time and attention required to maintain and advance the company’s distinct culture, as well as how much I’m enjoying that part of the role. It’s also something we are very much focused on continuing to improve and evolve to ensure we’re able to continue to attract great talent, and also ensure all of our staff can contribute to their fullest.”

How has your experience in leadership positions across the company helped ease that transition?

“Thanks to a 30-year career, I believe I’ve learned what I don’t know, built the confidence to challenge existing beliefs, while also developing an understanding of how important core principles are toward making decisions and interacting with others and how ego is an impediment to leadership. I believe experience helps inform how we evaluate and evolve our strategy, but also our execution.”

Can you describe your management style? Does it change when dealing with employees from different generations?

“I don’t vary my style when interacting with different generations. To do so assumes that I have an understanding of generational differences and that those generational differences are uniform, when they’re not—which is why I’m not comfortable with either assumption. Instead, my approach is based on a belief that every employee is investing their time, their career and their (and potentially their family’s) livelihood into Getty Images and they all want to be successful in that investment. As a result, I try to respect that investment and be equally transparent about the direction and performance of the company as we all as the individual.”

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Captured grubby socks and all by @michaelputlandphotography, John Lennon sits with Yoko Ono at home in Tittenhurst Park, July 1971. ⁠ A part of Beatles folklore, the Ascot estate hosted the band's final photo shoot in 1969. Lennon recorded his solo album, ‘Imagine', on site, just a few weeks before Putland's visit.⁠ The month after, Lennon and Ono moved to New York, the house and its grounds sold to former bandmate, Ringo Starr.⁠ Follow our bio link for a look at Lennon's life in pictures, on what would have been his 79th birthday.⁠ 📷: Michael Putland/Getty Images | #michaelputland | ⁠@gettyarchive ⁠ ⁠ #johnlennon #thebeatles #beatles #yokoono #imagine #tittenhurstpark #beatleshistory #musichistory #musicphotographer #1971 #jealousguy #gimmesometruth #ohyoko #musicphotography #beatlesphoto #archivephoto #photoarchive #nostalgia #gettyimages #gettyarchive⁠ ⁠

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Can you tell us a bit about Getty Images’ plans for growth in 2020? What industry trend are you keeping an eye on right now?

“Moving into 2020, we will continue to focus our efforts on producing and distributing the best visual content, and in turn allowing our customers to engage with their audiences in an authentic way while also saving them time and money and reducing their risks. Of course, we need to do all of this in a way that leverages the developments in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, continues to embrace mobile, recognizes the increasing importance of video, recognizes changes in customer tools and workflows and in a way that allows businesses of all sizes to take advantage of the power of imagery.”

What’s your advice for keeping pace with ever-changing technology, as well as the ways that people interact with technology?

“Getty Images is approaching its 25th anniversary—When the business first started, photography was still on film, there was no e-commerce, mobile phones were for phone calls and the founding of Facebook and social media was still 10 years out. A key learning from watching Getty Images navigate all of this change is to remember that at our core, we produce and provide great content. Our mission is to move the world with imagery and it’s our content that creates emotion and engagement regardless of how it’s captured or the medium in which it’s displayed. We need to maintain our focus on our core mission and value proposition and incorporate technology as a means of expanding our reach, improving efficiency and simplifying the delivery of that core proposition.”

How do you think the future of work plays into what Getty Images does?

“At Getty Images, we have what we call flexible work principles. Note that they are not policies—they’re principles. This is because we recognize that individuals have lives and commitments outside of the company and recognize that technology can enable more efficient, distributed work globally. We also recognize that our culture is strengthened through communal interaction and that our job is defined not only by our performance, but by how we help and enable others to perform. I’m truthfully not smart enough to know what new tools, technologies or trends will emerge in the future, but I believe that these principles will help us balance everything moving forward and ensure we’re the very best Getty Images we can be.”

Innovation is important at Getty Images. What are the things you’re actively doing to create a culture that fosters innovation company-wide?

“It all starts with our diversity and inclusion efforts and commitment. We need talented people with diverse experiences and perspectives to produce the very best ideas and a framework in place which allows these ideas to flow freely from across the organization. This, in turn, helps us create a culture that limits hierarchy while also welcoming challenges to the status quo. We’re then able to focus our efforts upon ensuring these ideas are rigorously explored before being put into action or set aside. Let’s equate an idea to a seed. Some seeds are weeds you don’t want to plant, but the seeds you do wish to plant often take a considerable amount of effort and attention before they can bear fruit. As a result, we need to be rigorous in our evaluation of each one before moving forward.”

Getty Images is a global company. Does it have any common traits that define its company culture?

“Yes, Getty Images is a global company. It is also a company that has its roots in the acquisition and consolidation of many companies. As a result, shared principles are critical toward creating the best environment necessary to get our work done. These principles are important given that 50 percent of every employee evaluation is based on how well we uphold our principles.

But as important as they are, they’re not confidential so I’m happy to share:

  • We are trustworthy, transparent and honest
  • We are inclusive of different voices, perspectives and experiences
  • We always raise the bar
  • We are one Getty Images with no silos
  • We collectively bring solutions
  • We deliver on our commitments and commercial goals
  • We care, are kind, courteous and respectful
  • We put the customer at the heart of everything we do

What advice would you give to someone interviewing with Getty Images?

“Demonstrate a track record of curiosity and learning. Demonstrate a track record of working collaboratively with others to deliver outcomes. Demonstrate a track record of being rigorous in the work you do. And of course, I also hope you’ve spent some time with our imagery, too.”