Marketing So You Want My Job? Career

So You Want My Job? Hanisha Kotecha on becoming Creature’s CCO during lockdown


By John McCarthy | Opinion editor

February 2, 2021 | 6 min read

Welcome to So You Want My Job? where, each week, we ask the people working in some of the industry’s coolest jobs about how they got where they are. And, along the way, we dig into their philosophies, inspirations, processes and experiences. Hopefully, our interviewees can help inspire you to pursue (or create) a job that’s just as exciting.


Hanisha Kotecha, Creature chief client officer

This week we speak to Hanisha Kotecha, chief client officer at Creature. But before we jump in, a quick reminder that you can subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter, Working it Out, which gathers up the best new marketing vacancies and helps you get interview-sharp.

What did you want to be when you growing up and does your job now resemble that in any way?

When I was young, I wanted to either be a pre-school teacher or a Blue Peter presenter. I have always been very sarcastic, so I figured out early on that I might not have the sunny disposition for kid’s TV. Oh, but the fun I would have had with double-sided sticky tape.

I got to dabble a little when making mock-ups in the cutting room way back when I was account exec, using foam board and toxic spray glue, but that’s not quite the same. It’s fair to say that running creative projects, working with clients or trying to get people (leadership teams included) to do what I want over the years hasn’t been too dissimilar to being a pre-school teacher, so I guess I always have a fall back if this all goes wrong.

How did you get your job?

Honestly? It was summer in lockdown and a head-hunter called me about a client service director (CSD) role at Creature just as I’d been busy starting up a pop-up consultancy, Reset, with Nik Roope. I’d had a long break from agencies since my last role as the managing director of a mid-sized independent agency (I had deliberately stepped away because I was frustrated by the traditional agency model, and tired of working in a rigid structure internally and with clients).

I wasn’t planning on going for the role as I thought it was a step down from my previous – smaller role, team and agency. But I’m so glad I didn’t take it at face value. I’d asked around to see if anyone knew the leadership team at Creature and I heard nothing but good things. So I had a chat and spent most of it telling the chief exec that hiring a CSD wasn’t the right thing to do. On top of that, I waxed lyrical about how account management needs to change and quizzed him on diversity.

It turns out he liked the challenge and appreciated being pushed on the tougher stuff, which made me think differently about the role, the agency and the opportunity. We went back and forth and I eventually accepted the role of chief client officer, giving me a wider leadership position in the agency. All of this was without actually meeting each other face-to-face. Weird times.

Do your parents understand what it is that you do?

I think my dad gets it, but my mum has definitely stopped asking details in case I make a fuss about how she doesn’t listen to me. They are always interested though, and will be the first to forward round any press or ads I’ve made to family and their friends in a WhatsApp group… more impressive though is that my 8-year-old daughter knows exactly what I do and could list all the brands I work with without a prompt.

What do you love most about your job?

I love being part of great ideas – strategic ideas or creative ideas. I’m at my best when I’m selling, protecting or making an idea I believe in, but in all honesty, it’s more about the people you’re working with. Smart, energised, curious folk who make work not feel like work.

How would someone entering the industry go about getting your job now?

There are quite a few routes to getting here. I worked my way up from being an account executive, but now there’s a lot more pressure for people to stand out on social media or have a side hustle to get noticed. I still think there’s no shortcut to experience. Working my way up made me understand all the pitfalls and opportunities when it comes to running a successful agency. I’d say try all the routes, not just one, but I’m a big fan of creative access for entry-level roles for people from diverse backgrounds. Beyond that, meet/stalk/drink virtual coffee with as many people as you can. You’ll be surprised at how generous people can be with their time. Just be sure not to waste it and always do your prep.

What personal trait makes you best suited to your role?

I guess there are two. I always find the funny side – you need a sense of humour in this role to galvanise teams and keep your head up, even if people don’t always do what you want them to. And I try to be good with money – if you spend your clients’ money as if it were your own, people will trust you.

Who should those who want your job be reading or listening to?

Real people over the Twitterati. Being culturally on point is a constant project – read things that put you out of your comfort zone. A good place to start is Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed. I’m constantly browsing podcasts and world news to make sure I’m not in a London ad bubble too. From an industry perspective, always browse the strategy, effectiveness and creative awards – it’ll help show you what excellence looks like.

Last week we talked to Adam Crocker, head of VFX at independent creative studio Black Kite.

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