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“In reality, work is a part of life”: Beyond the Brief featuring Anathea Ruys, Carat

Anathea Ruys, managing director, Carat LA

Big-time media agency Carat made a big-time move when they added Anathea Ruys as managing director for their LA office.

This is a big move for the 20-year vet, who’s spent the past two decades running the show across the Pacific. Most recently heading up Singapore’s offerings for branded content agency Fuse, Ruys built up a culture of collaboration with teams in Hong Kong, Thailand, and Malaysia, connecting them to Omnicom Media Group’s broader Asia Pacific region (China, India, New Zealand and Australia)—and establishing partnerships with Maker Studios, Facebook,YouTube and A&E Networks.

Ruys has also played managerial director for Mindshare, Clemenger Harvie Edge (now part of the Clemenger BBDO family), and PHD’s content arm Spark Activate. Brands under her auspices over the years include Nike, Unilever, Vodafone, and the Salvation Army. She’s made the most of her opportunities to shine and returns the favor through judging some of the world’s best work at Cannes and Spikes Asia’s festivals of creativity and mentoring with New Zealand’s largest independent broadcaster, Mediaworks.

Ruys is bringing an extensive career of building and elevating agencies, and through living beyond the brief.

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

The most important lesson I’ve learned throughout my career is the importance of listening. No one does it perfectly the whole time, but when you listen rather than just jump ahead to your reply, you can get taken in some pretty interesting directions. I also think learning how to ask the really hard questions – where you are pretty sure the answer won't be what you want to hear – is a lesson well learned.

Best moment in a client presentation? Worst moment? Funniest moment?

The worst moment I've ever had in a presentation was many years ago during a new business pitch. Not only were we not as prepared as we should have been, but we didn’t research the room we would be in or the tech. We couldn't connect the laptop to the prospect’s new high-tech system and ended up with all the potential clients in the room watching as we struggled to get something to work.

It is impossible to present well after that kind of start and unsurprisingly we didn't win the business. No one is going to trust you to invest millions of their dollars if you aren't prepared enough to get the tech right! I use that as a cautionary tale all the time now and I carry just about every attachment available in my bag - just in case.

Who is a young person in advertising that excites you most? Why is that?

Just about every young person I meet in advertising makes me feel excited for the future. From the crew who sent me off to a big meeting with a goodie bag of chocolates and inspirational notes; to the person who asked to sit down and talk about what I've learned and can share; to the person who bravely spoke up in a big brainstorm and shared their idea. We work in an industry that will only be as awesome as the people who work in it—thank goodness we have so many of them coming through. They inspire me every day (and make me feel quite old!)

What is a guilty pleasure/vice you can’t go without?

I adore cooking and fashion reality shows. Fortunately, I have a couple of co-workers with the same affliction so we can share the shame and joy!

What book would you suggest to a stranger?

If that stranger was smoking I would suggest Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking. It’s been over a decade since I quit and couldn't be happier. There is some secret hidden within those pages that really works.

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

I find the phrase “work / life balance” really frustrating as it positions work as the bad guy compared to life. But in reality, work is a part of life - and a really important one.

Work has been a part of my life that has introduced me to people I love across the world; taught me things I had no idea about; shown me places that have blown my mind; paid the mortgage so we have somewhere to live; helped my sons see a mom who can also be a leader; forced me to examine my strengths and weaknesses; and allowed me to become the person I am happy to be. To me that doesn't look like work bad / life good!

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)? We’re 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.

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