'Every job you have is an opportunity to learn': Beyond the Brief featuring Reema Mitra, DDB

Reema Mitra, group director of digital strategy, DDB

To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the 4A’s has partnered with 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 role of group director of digital strategy at DDB is pretty new to Reema Mitra who started the position this spring. At DDB, she focuses on digital marketing and content planning for clients, such as State Farm, Unilever and Cotton.

Before making the move to DDB, Mitra was the group director of social at Huge, where she worked with clients, such as Kohl’s, Nokia Health, Google and new business, to consult on how social media can lead digital transformation and business impact.

Mitra also worked at Edelman in London and New York, working on digital and social media strategy across multiple campaigns, including Dove’s Real Beauty campaign.

Mitra’s work in the advertising industry plus her passion for shows that she living beyond the brief.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your advertising career?

The biggest lesson I've learned is that every job you have is an opportunity to learn. I worked hard in college, often pulling two internships in a semester with a paying job. By the time I graduated, I had pitched (and placed) national media. I was elated and got a job promptly after in the city. Little did I realize my first year would consist of doing whatever my boss asked of me, including convincing the finance team that they had to push through her expenses and also finding ways around our mail room policies for outgoing posts. I have never been as exhausted as in that first year, but I learned that creative problem-solving requires you to have friends in the building. Friends like the men who worked in our mailroom and at security. There are a lot of egos in advertising which isn't surprising given it's a very privileged field. Learning to use my first year (even though I had pitched national media) to flex my creative problem-solving skills helps me even today.

Have you ever thought you should quit your job, but didn’t? Why?

I think about this all the time. I feel anyone who answers differently is a huge liar. I made a decision when I embarked on this journey that I was going to succeed and that I was going to do it quickly so I could make a real impact on business change in the way I wanted to. Being in my role, I've tried to mentor as many women of color as possible. It's my goal to help change the ratio of this industry and I won't be quitting any time soon.

What’s your passion outside of advertising?

As a strategist, I use my brain a lot — maybe even too much. I took up diving to get over my fears about the sea, but also to use the 'executive override' function of my brain more. Did you know you have the ability to override your natural instincts and fears? It's not natural to put your face in water and still expect to breathe. The entire diving experience has done wonders for shutting up the part of my brain I use at work and let me explore other parts of it in this way.

Is work too personal or not personal enough at times? Why is that?

For me the two are inextricable. And I think you can tell when you meet me.

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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