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.
This week we speak to Laura Jordan Bambach, president and chief creative officer at Grey London. But first, remember 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? Does your job now resemble that in any way?
When I was a kid I wanted to do something creative (like a window dresser of a big department store, or an artist), something geeky (like an inventor) or something that can change the world for the better (like a politician). So yes, I think I’ve managed to merge those three into one pretty good career.
How did you get your job?
I did fine arts at uni, but my art was always very political. And digital was just coming into its own as a medium, so I was doing a lot of coding. When the web first hit properly in 1994, I realized that I could reach more people with my cyberfeminist messages (probably only the few thousand people on there at first) and started making web art. It was a super conceptual course, so we learned how to think and to talk about ideas, but a lot of the practical skills like coding were self-taught.
Then I realized that I could make money from what I knew from my art practice, because people who could design, cut and code were thin on the ground. So I started my own agency, even if I’ve never trained as a designer or in advertising, and that’s when my career started. And I also used to teach a lot at university – both in Sydney and here in London.
I moved to London 20 years ago to work at an incredible digital agency, Deepend. I’ve also worked for most of the cool digital agencies over the years: Lateral, Glue (now Isobar), LBi (now Digitas) and Dare. Then started my own agency, Mr President, taking the best of digital thinking and process to a much more integrated place. There’s nothing I would do differently; every experience has been a learning one.
I’ve been at Grey since lockdown and now we’re part of AKQA Group: it’s a great mix between my current passions and my creative home.
OK, so what do you actually do? How would you explain your job to a taxi driver?
I’m in charge of the creative output of the agency (with my partner in crime, creative chairman Javier Campopiano). But I’m also the face of the agency. I like to see my role as being a facilitator and a cheerleader. I’m lucky to work with an incredible leadership team and we all have the same objective: making famously effective work to help our clients grow their business, and building the best culture within the agency. I want to make us more entrepreneurial, diverse, energetic and playful. And I want people to be their most authentic self while working at Grey.
Do your parents understand what it is that you do?
Yes, my parents stalk me on social and read everything I do. My mum is a great sounding board for work – she’s very philosophical and her opinions matter.
What do you love most about your job?
The people I work with, and the tingly feeling you get when you launch something and you know it’s going to do well.
How would someone entering the industry go about getting your job now? What would be their route?
It could be any route now – the traditional ways have broken down a lot over the last few years. In the more creative/maker roles, portfolio is everything, so I’d focus there. With platforms like The Dots it’s easy to keep an eye on roles being offered and it’s easy to apply. If you’re just starting out, there are still great grad schemes and portfolio sessions to get involved in, and the good creative leaders will usually always take the time to get back to you, even if it’s a quick email. Asking for portfolio reviews is a great way to meet them face-to-face.
What advice would you offer to others entering the advertising industry, especially at this weird time?
It’s hard to start somewhere in lockdown. We’re learning fast how to support people better, but not having people around to learn from can be tough. But what we can do can be so much fun, so joyous. It’s not all hard work. I’d say be patient and know that you’re enough. When you haven’t heard back or things are being put on hold, it’s not your fault. Don’t worry about bombarding people or reminding them – everyone has less capacity for things at the moment. What you have to offer is special. And reach out if you’re struggling, even if you want a bit of mentorship.
What trait best suits you for your role?
The willingness to listen and to spot a great idea and help others see the value in it. Read or listen to whatever you like. And some things you don’t. Be curious – it is just about the best superpower there is in my job and being comfortable in yourself is the only thing that gets you through the tougher times.
Last week, we talked to Wayne Deakin, executive creative director for EMEA at Huge.