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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
There's a lot of things that shape my story over the last 20 plus years and getting to where my responsibility is today in the world of advertising and marketing. I would tell you that probably one of the biggest influences over my life actually was when I was a little kid growing up. I grew up in Southern California and I have a great affinity for the Nike brand and during the 1984 Olympics, I was probably 19 years old, and during that games in L.A. in 84, Nike went from advertising sort of technical, functional things, to advertising with the heart and advertising with an emotion. So what you would see on the side of buildings were huge murals of an athlete and just a logo and for me, that was super cool. And at that point I realized as I look back, that was one of those key things that sort of helped me understand, Oh, man, if I ever get an opportunity to be in an environment where it's creative and where we have the sort of ability to shape the way people feel about something, I really wanted to be around that. I certainly didn't have that plan when I was 19 years old. I sort of stumbled upon it in many respects, going through university and then going to graduate school, getting my MBA. I spent the summer in between my first and second year at an advertising agency in upstate New York that gave me a little bit of a taste of it and since then, since I graduated and came out of my MBA, I've been in the advertising world since 1992 and it's been an awesome experience. I will tell you when people ask me that question about sort of what's my story? I tell them that I wake up pretty much every day excited about what I get to do because what we get to do is sort of create the way people feel about brands and to do it with a really deep understanding of consumers and how they're motivated, apply a lot of science and a lot of data to it, but also apply a lot of great storytelling as well. So to me, it's super fun, and since I couldn't find my way to writing the great American novel, I found my way into advertising. So I love it, it's a thrill every day and I know that it's a passion, and it's certainly a labor of love and I love it. Young people are starting to sort of finding their way to it in a different way lately through things like social media and a lot of different sort of peer to peer networking and a lot of the different types of platforms that people can create messages on, so it's been a long sort of story and getting here. My undergraduate degree was a little bit different, being an English major and going into business school but for me, it's always been about telling great stories, and it started when I was a little kid.

What are the responsibilities and decisions that you handle at work? Discuss weekly hours you spend in the office, for work travel, and working from home.

Based on experience at: Managing Director, Saatchi & Saatchi (We Are Saatchi)
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
My responsibility in our office here in Dallas is to be responsible for the whole office on behalf of our client, which is Toyota Motor North America. The nature of my decisions varies through the balance of the day. Some days they could be completely about the out end product of creativity and media thinking and media planning and strategy around messages that are creating on behalf of the brand. Other days, it could easily be about budgets and headcount, the scope of work and how we're working with Toyota and the nature of our relationship, strengths, and weaknesses of people and making decisions about people's growth and career path in people. So as a whole host of responsibilities, I get the chance to do many things that's for me is still exciting, still getting a chance to be a part of the work that we put out, but also in the same respect, having a chance to grow people in the industry and to try to really focus a lot of my effort around how those things fit together and that's where I'll sort of pause and say for me when I think about a day, I think about that day in the context of what are we doing in our relationship with our clients and in our company to create a culture, a culture that feels like a place that people want to work, can be sticky while at the same time someplace that they can learn and grow. I talk a lot about creating a learning culture at Saatchi, I talk a lot about wanting to have the team within Saatchi subscribed to that notion of trying to grow their people so we spend a lot of time making decisions around that. I worked pretty much from anywhere, it's an interesting question, I work from the office or at home or in my car or on an airplane or in an airport all of those places when you are responsible in a partnership, in a relationship with the brand as large as Toyota, there's often very much a sense of responsibility all the time, and it's sort of a gift and a blessing to have that level of responsibility, and for me it's awesome, I find myself doing work constantly. I think the other thing that's true about that is how there's no time in the day when ideas can happen. It's not like you create a direction and you create a creative brief, and the result is between 10 to 4 p.m you're going to come up with great ideas. Great ideas can happen at any time, and we really do believe that so the result of that means that we're sort of always thinking about how to improve either the relationship or the work or the content that we're creating on behalf of the brands that we are responsible for in the world. It's a great question though.

What are the job titles of people you routinely work with inside and outside of your organization? What approaches do you find to be effective in working with them?

Based on experience at: Managing Director, Saatchi & Saatchi (We Are Saatchi)
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
Job titles in our industry are changing. In a classic agency organization, you have a creative group, a lot of folks in media and responsibility for media, there are folks in strategy and customer understanding or customer insight development, you have folks who are responsible for the relationship tend to fall in the world of account management. Folks on the client side are in the world of marketing managers, general managers of marketing, vice presidents of marketing, chief marketing officers, group vice presidents, CEOs. My responsibility is all of those so at any level in a corporate hierarchy or in our organization, I work with people throughout all levels. When you ask the question, what approaches do you find to be effective? I tend to land in a world where the most important and the most powerful way to connect with people is, to be honest, to be humble, to be transparent and to tell people when they do a good job that they do that they're doing a great job, and if they're not meeting your expectations find a way to do that in a constructive way so they are empowered and excited about trying to get better. Like I said before, as it relates to culture for us it's all about creating a learning culture, and we want people to grow. So the way I work with people is to try to find a way to make them feel that in their daily work, what are they doing to make themselves better? What are they doing in making themselves better? So for me, it's about honesty, transparency, humility has a big factor in it as well.

What major challenges do you face in your job and how do you handle them? Can you discuss a few accomplishments?

Based on experience at: Managing Director, Saatchi & Saatchi (We Are Saatchi)
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
We face challenges all the time. I think one of the things you could look back on, for example, several years ago, Toyota faced a real crisis with something like the earthquake and the tsunami in the country of Japan. In that instance, there was a period of time when Toyota had to determine how best to proceed that was a real moment in time for sort of leadership and brand management having to come together to determine the best way to approach that situation, the best way to do that, the best way to bring forth sort of the best ideas. Again I come back in that instance, where a global brand is facing a real crisis around something like their own supply chain because tsunami and earthquakes have caused real challenges to that supply chain to rally a team around doing the best thing and we talk a lot about, when we're faced with a challenge, we have a phrase which is, 'To always do what is in the long term the best interest of our client and to not take a short term approach' and if we do that and if we come at the responsibilities that we have on behalf of the brand and the relationships that we have, I think we're always going to be in a better place when we take a long term perspective and always work in their best long term interest. So challenges are often exciting for us because it's like, Wow, this is really interesting, there are some things that we're facing that could be very unique in either marketing or communications and in so doing, we're always taking that long term view, we're always saying, OK, how do we think about this in the long term and not just today? In your question, the one challenge that came to my mind the most was when Toyota had to face the challenges of the situation several years back with the tsunami.

How do you inspire and motivate your team members? How do you foster creative thinking? How are ideas shared and implemented?

Based on experience at: Managing Director, Saatchi & Saatchi (We Are Saatchi)
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
We try to find people who we hire who have the same type of passion for ideas that we have. You have to love it and you have to love wanting to see not only the clients to be inspired by what you create, but consumers to be inspired, and consumers show their inspiration and appreciation in a lot of ways but probably the most important two ways as it relates to what our responsibility is, they probably either by the product or they think differently about the product in the way we want them to perceive and think that product to be about and to me, helping people understand that that's their end goal, that they're trying to shape the way consumers feel about something or whether they're trying to sell the thing that consumers are most keen to want is a sense of a goal and a sense of an objective that I think people just get inspired by when they really love ideas because creativity really is the driving force behind everything we do. It's not just a creative department, but its creativity in all we do so just because we make a really cool TV ad doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to then have it be in a place or a space that is highly unique unto the way a consumer could perceive it, which then takes it as just a great ad and elevates it to an even higher level. So when you can explain the benefit and the wonder and the sort of amazing inspiration that people get from that, I think people get really psyched about it and they're very motivated.

How do you set targets for your team members? How do you measure their progress? How do you incentivize them to meet their targets?

Based on experience at: Managing Director, Saatchi & Saatchi (We Are Saatchi)
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
I was thinking about it this afternoon because we had a long conversation this morning about our review process and how we go about revealing our people. We hope and believe in creating an organization where people are having constant evaluation and constant discussion about their own performance and that means when and if they get to an annual review, there are no surprises and there's no misunderstanding or misinformation around how a person is doing but one of the things we have and we believe in really strongly is creating what we call smart goals and not having goals be vague but having them be smart, which is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound, that's a smart goal. It's like when people create goals that are smart, then they have a really clear pathway that they can take and have to evaluate themselves on and if they don't get there, then there are conversations about how did you not get there? What is it about the pathway that you took that you didn't find your way to achieve what you thought you could in the amount of time you thought you could do it in? So we use smart goals a lot in our company that is a really valuable tool for us to measure people and it gives people clarity on what we're hoping from them as well and that's really been one of the driving things for us and how we evaluate people.

What qualities do you look for while hiring? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Based on experience at: Managing Director, Saatchi & Saatchi (We Are Saatchi)
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
I look for people who are interesting and who feel inspiring. I think we look for people who surprise us and think about the world in a different way. I think experience in our category matters, but not so much if a person is coming at a challenge that they've faced and solved it in a creative way, I would tell you the type of questions that I ask tend to do mostly with what motivates people that I interview and I really want them to tell me things that they love and things that they're motivated by because that tells me what matters to them. If they can show passion around something, whether it's a sport or something in the arts or music, then I know that they have the sensibility of being passionate, and that's sort of what matters so much to our industry is not only having a scientific understanding around data and how targeting can work and understanding consumers from a data standpoint but also having a passion for something that they can express. If we see that in an interview, we get really excited because that means they have that in them to understand how to be inspirational and passionate themselves.

What was the hiring process like for your job? What were the roles of people who interviewed you? What kind of questions were asked?

Based on experience at: Managing Director, Saatchi & Saatchi (We Are Saatchi)
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
I am a little bit stumped because I don't remember the hiring process for my job. I could tell you the roles of people that would have interviewed me would have been probably both on our client-side and in our company. It would have been mostly sort of senior leadership type people for the job I have now, as I described in the previous question, the types of questions that I was asked were things like that like, What are your favorite ideas? What makes you passionate? What are the things that matter most to you? How do you go about creating priorities? What is the nature of your leadership? What is your style for creating culture? Those are the things that I tend to ask so those were probably the things that I was asked along the way in my career. I think that one of the most powerful things that we could do in our workplace and in our life is to figure out the most important questions to ask. I think in doing that, you get to a place where you're really interrogating the problem that you're trying to solve for and it's based on the questions that you ask and how significant or unique those questions could be that you really get at the solve. So when I think about my job and getting my job, those would be the questions that I would expect and those are the types of questions that I would ask people.

What are different entry-level jobs and subsequent job pathways that can lead students to a position such as yours?

Based on experience at: Managing Director, Saatchi & Saatchi (We Are Saatchi)
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
There are a lot of pathways to get to my responsibility and some of the basic areas and basic functions in advertising agencies are roles like account coordinator, assistant account executive. I think that you could come up through the strategy and research department as a junior planner. I think you could absolutely come through even the creative department as an art director or copywriter, I also think you could come through media or production. It tends to be people who are more relationship-based in my responsibility, which tends to be more or a little bit in business management and an accountant relationship-oriented function but, by all means, I think any entry-level role in any of our functional departments is a pathway to having greater responsibility and ultimately having that type of responsibility where you're running the overall organization. I believe that's true because I think anybody if they are interested in getting to that point and they understand the nature of that responsibility can get there.

What were the responsibilities and decisions that you handled at work? What major challenges did you face in your job?

Based on experience at: Executive Director, Team One
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
It was a very similar role in Team One. I was responsible for the overall footprint on behalf of the Lexus automotive brand. Currently, I'm responsible for the overall footprint of the Toyota Brand on behalf of Saatchi. Team One is Lexus Automobiles' agency of record here in the United States and very similar type of responsibility set and very similar types of challenges, What are we going to make? What is the nature of the message? What are some of the targets were going after? How do we better understand luxury consumers because on the Team One side for Lexus and the Lexus brand, it's far more about luxury, whereas Toyota is a far broader form of mass-market brand. I think that's probably the biggest difference between the two but very similar in terms of responsibilities between my previous role and the role I'm in now.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: MBA, Marketing, Finance, Entrepreneurship, University of Rochester - Simon Business School
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
When I went to undergraduate university, I was an English major. I would tell you that major has helped me equally in helping me do my job as getting an MBA because my focus is an English major was in literary theory and critical theory, specifically, then very uniquely was also very much focused on African American literature with the focus also in African American women's literature, so being able to understand the dynamics and the way in which stories were told in that specific culture was extremely valuable and helping to be suited to evaluate stories that are told on behalf of brands. Fast forward to going to graduate school and getting an MBA, if you could imagine trying to sort of work in business function or in a private function outside of a university environment without the language of business that was my challenge, which is why I went back and got my MBA to try to understand the vocabulary in the language of business. I would tell you that that side of my education was equally extremely useful because I understood how organizations work and had a pure understanding of marketing and pure understanding of operations, a whole lot of work around leadership and entrepreneurship, which is very much about creating of an idea, not just advertising, but of any given idea or a business idea so to me, they really complemented each other. I used both of them a lot every day, even down to doing future forecasting in terms of revenues and net present value. I never thought that I'd bring my finance degree back into play every once in a while, it pops up and at the same time, things like marketing science and the science around consumer's behavior has always been very useful to me over the last 20 years since I came out of school 27 years now.

Would you like to share something that is not on your resume? This may include your passions, facing setbacks or adversities, a unique experience, or an unexpected help.

Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
There are so many passions in my life but people probably don't put down on the resume how much your family means to the. I have three kids, they're amazing, they're all very unique. I love what I do and I neither work to live nor live to work. I find my way through my workday because it gives me a lot of meaning being able to tell stories on behalf of brands and my kids have passion for that as well a sort of as a result of it but they also live their own lives so, to me, that would be something that isn't on my resume. I would say that the flip side of that, because of who those kids are and where they've come to in their life is I also have a huge, deep passion for the sport. I realized at certain times of my life how it sort of comes in and out of my lens and my purview but I had a huge passion for sports of all kinds. I love the concept of teams, and I find that the concept of teams is of great value and leadership responsibility and creating the culture and creating organizations that are attractive by nature and cultures that are about learning. Being a part of a team, I think there is no better training than that as you could get to try to understand how to be in an organization and be successful and thrive.

Do you have any parting advice for students and professionals hoping to get to a position such as yours? What 3 dos and 3 don'ts would you suggest?

Based on experience at: Managing Director, Saatchi & Saatchi (We Are Saatchi)
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
I would say three do's would be, show passion, keep learning, always be humble and transparent. Three don'ts would be don't worry, you'll get there, don't lose sight of every day because every day is what gets to the next day and don't let people get in your way, be the CEO of your own career but do it in a way that has that sense of teamwork, compassion, camaraderie, and humility because when you bring that forth, people will want you and they'll want to promote you, and they want you to strive to be better at what you do. So for me, those were three big ones in terms of dos and don'ts.