“Be passionate, be opinionated and always be a problem-solver“. So said our panel at last night’s filmed careers event and launch of WEXO TV, ‘How I Made it in Advertising‘. We were lucky enough to get an intimate and entertaining careers chat from five pros in the advertising world, jam-packed with practical advice and anecdotal lessons. The Tabernacle in Notting Hill hosted our evening in its beautiful and embellished theatre.
On the panel sat Julian Diment (Carphone Warehouse), Rebecca Robins (Interbrand), Nick Foster (T-Mobile), Tanya Hamilton-Smith (JWT) and Robin Garton (MBA). Collectively they’ve worked for and with the likes of Saatchi & Saatchi, Publicis, Tesco, Orange, Andrex and Reuters. A pretty impressive but instantly likeable bunch, if we ever met one.
Our audience consisted of everyone from LSE undergraduates, Masters students and careers advisers for schoolchildren to keen WEXO members who’d travelled from as far as Cardiff! Needless to say the atmosphere in the Tabernacle was rather electric, with guests in the running to win a work’s week experience in advertising particularly excited. To begin, each of our speakers zipped us through their background, and how they found themselves on their current career paths. A few central themes arose, which anyone looking to delve into the advertising should consider noting. Pens at the ready:
- Follow your instincts. When it comes to joining a team, go with people you instantly feel you can gel with. If you’re pretending to be someone you’re not, it’ll show in no time.
- Relationships are key. Care about the people and brands you work for. Not in a sentimental sense, but in terms of genuinely wanting to push forward their agenda. Those relationships will form the core of your contact base in time.
- Do your research. Know the brands or companies you aspire to work with, before you find yourself in that interview you worked so hard to nab. With LinkedIn, Facebook and Google at your disposal, any failure to read up will tend to reflect badly on your preparation.
- Don’t be a slave to the numbers. When you’ve got an idea in a creative position, it’s vital to balance both your own gut feeling and the anticipated demand from market research. You’ll sell yourself short by only responding to one or the other.
After learning how each speaker ‘made it’ in advertising on their own paths we then enjoyed the Q&A session. While I tweeted furiously throughout, our audience came through with questions on the prevalence of social media, importance of corporate social responsibility and recommended academic paths to advertising jobs.
Some particular crackers included a question on whether the panel members would have handled the John Lewis ‘freezing dog’ Christmas ad differently and a personal question about why so few of the panel seemed to be on Twitter themselves! These two are in fact our winning questions for the event: in our promo we had advertised a week’s work experience and subscription (worth £800) to The Reel. We’re happy to announce that Debra Sherman and Lucy Hine are our two winners, and more details will be coming their way today. Well done!
As the Q&A went on, similar themes started to crop up while the panel used stories of their own experiences to illustrate their points. It was particularly interesting to hear about Garton’s adventurous approach to adverts when contrasted with Hamilton-Smith’s self-described ‘safe’ angle. Knowing we were sat with one of the brains behind Orange Wednesdays (Diment) was also impressive and inspirational.
All in all, the gist seemed to be: use your skills, resources and creativity to push yourself towards the department you’d work best in. Although the advertising industry is so varied, finding oneself in the wrong area could be disastrous and personally unfulfilling.
WEXO Members can watch the entire event on WEXO TV here or break it down into clips of the Q&As.