'Collaboration and commitment keeps me sane': Beyond the Brief with Chris Arakelian, Wolff Olins

Chris Arakelian, Wolff Olins

To celebrate its 100th Anniversary, the 4A’s has partnered with us at The Drum to pull back the curtain and look at an industry full of problem solvers, creative types and analytical minds. But what keeps them going once the briefs are written, the campaigns executed, and the pitches won (or lost)? The Drum is now interviewing 100 people at 4A’s member agencies — across all disciplines, levels, regions, and agency types — to get a glimpse into what drives them at work and what fuels them in life.

Chris Arakelian is the head of business development, North America at Wolff Olins. She works as an engagement leader and strategic consultant working with brands across the agency, including Hyatt, Grubhub, Zocdoc, 3M, Virgin and The Met.

According to Arakelian, her role reaches various parts of the process including research, analysis, ideation, strategy, architecture and activation.

Arakelian’s passion for her work, as well as her desire be creative and effective, shows how she is living beyond the brief.

If you were a client for a day, what would you tell your agency?

Great work doesn’t have to be the smartest or most creative, it needs to connect. We’re talking to people and those people are not us. Empathize and gut check. Discover something in the work that you did not know going in. Ask the tough questions. Have a hypothesis. Don’t look for the silver bullet. Find ways to make the work better. Know when to push, then push harder.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in a new business pitch?

Our presenter got a bloody nose. She had to stop in her tracks and run to the restroom. Awkward to say the least!

What keeps you sane in this industry? What keeps you driven to do great work?

Collaboration and commitment keeps me sane. I’m never in it alone, which I feel deeply working at Wolff Olins. We’re a team from beginning to end. For better or for worse.

What’s a virtue that you live by?

Respect. For everyone.

How do you practice self-care?

It's all about balance. A healthy mix of good and bad, calm and chaos (which I'm able to maintain with two little boys!)

To pitch someone from a 4A's member agency for Beyond the Brief, please complete this linked form.

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Haley Velasco

Haley Velasco is a writer based in Chicago, IL, who has a background in PR for a sports media company and has reported on a variety of topics, including sports, opinion, politics and celebrity news. Based in the Windy City, she covers industry happenings in the Midwest and throughout North America. She has been reporting for The Drum since May 2016.

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