Why Jesper Andersson chose agency life over international politics
Future 50 inductee Jesper Andersson is a managing partner at Nord DDB. He tells us how he rose from intern to a senior position in just three years.
Jesper Andersson has been at Nord DDB for five years / Nord DDB
Jesper Andersson didn’t plan on working at an ad agency. As a university student, he dreamed of austere chambers and high politics at the United Nations, but an internship at Nord DDB changed his perspectives on politics and his career path.
Just three years later, he was made managing partner. Two years on from that, he’s been named one of the best emerging talents in the industry in The Drum’s Future 50 list.
Andersson recalls: “One of my idols has always been the Swedish diplomat and former deputy secretary-general of the United Nations Jan Eliasson. We grew up in the same city and come from similar backgrounds, with hard working class parents.
“The traditional career for becoming a diplomat is to study political science. However, when I was going to University in 2015, the refugees seeking asylum from the horrible war in Syria drastically changed the public discourse in Sweden. That’s when I realized politics will always change, but people will always have to communicate with each another. That guided me to pursue a career in understanding communication first and the to potentially go into diplomacy as a next step.
“When I joined Nord DDB as an intern in 2017, however, it took me about five seconds to fall in love with the stuff we do here. I had a plan but, as I’ve learned by now, you rarely stick to the plan the way you thought you would, and things can turn out really good anyway.”
Leaving that plan behind didn’t mean an end to Andersson’s deliberate approach to work, however. Once he’d decided the world of planning was the best fit, he went for it. “When I joined, I had an aim of learning as much as I possibly could in as short a time as possible. My goal was to move from being a passive observer of what was going on in the agency to be the one actually doing the work. Planning seemed to be the hub for getting the right fuel and when I got to know the like-minded people at the strategy department, it made all my cylinders go boom.”
The moment to put those lessons to the test appeared, improbably enough, in the form of Snoop Dogg. The agency had come up with the wheeze of having the legendary Californian rapper invest in its client Klarna, but needed someone to orchestrate the campaign. “Thanks to everything I’ve learned from working closely with some really talented people at the office, we decided that I was a good match for the position.”
The move upward, rapid as it was, was enabled by the agency’s spirit of entrepreneurship, he says. “When we discussed the potential with communications planning, our CEO Andreas Dahlqvist just said, ’Great idea, let’s try it!’ It wasn’t so much of an interview.”
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‘Surround yourself with people much smarter than you’
Looking back, Andersson says he has tempered his ambitions of progression. “A couple of years ago, I was a bit single-minded and thought that my personal growth only could and should be exponential.
“I’ve cooled down a bit since and realized that growth can come from different places and, career-wise, it sometimes looks like a long staircase. I’m enjoying myself and, with the relentlessness of this business and the fact that you constantly have to push yourself to break new ground, I’d like to continue that journey and help build what I hope will become the best agency in the world.”
As a senior member of the agency, he’s determined to make space for like-minded outsiders. “If there is anything I’ve learned so far it is to surround yourself with people much smarter than you and seek inspiration from inside and, most importantly, outside the marketing business.
“I didn’t know a single soul who worked in marketing before joining the agency. By being fortunate enough to work close to some of the best marketing talent there is, I’ve learned a lot about marketing. But it’s the inspiration from one of my teachers, my friends and the support from my family that have inspired me to stay hungry, curious and take care of myself along the way.”