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Kees Kruythoff

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So You Want My Job? Xaxis’s Gila Wilensky on riding change and staying sane

So You Want My Job? Xaxis’s Gila Wilensky on riding change and staying sane

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. Along the way, we dig into their philosophies, inspirations, processes and experiences. Hopefully our interviewees can inspire you to pursue (or create) a job that’s just as exciting.

This week, we catch up with Gila Wilensky, president of Xaxis’s US business (part of WPP).

So, how did you get your job?

I followed my older twin siblings into search marketing in the early aughts and worked at a few agencies. I got my current job through the network at GroupM, where I was at Essence for the past seven years. The great thing about working within an agency holding company is the opportunities across the network. The opportunity to join Xaxis came about very early on in the pandemic, back when we all thought WFH was a short-lived experience. It was pretty novel then to interview over video with future Xaxis colleagues who I (still to this day!) haven’t met in person. It was also very weird to leave Essence virtually and not get to say goodbye in person.

OK, so what do you actually do?

My job is to help clients transform media investment into real business outcomes, to drive business growth for Xaxis in the US and to foster our company culture here.

What I actually ’do’ all day is help clients achieve the above, problem solve, lead a team of experts who are delivering solutions to clients and the market, and make sure the right people are focused in the right roles. And communicate – as much as possible (always), but especially while we’re all apart. Currently, all of this is happening over email, video and chat apps.

Do your parents understand what you do?

Sort of. They know the basics of digital marketing and that I lead large teams and work with clients directly. The technical bits are very foreign to them. Nonetheless, they are proud of me.

What do you love most about your job?

Variety. No two days look alike and you get to work with a variety of clients, verticals, and people.

Also, fostering talent. I want to help people have successful careers. I love watching our talent grow, get promoted, stretch into new roles and responsibilities, and ultimately thrive.

Lastly, I love helping clients solve problems. I’ve always been into puzzles (board games, apps, crosswords) and it’s very rewarding to help a client or a business unlock a challenge and answer a question through smart, beautiful media.

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

There are so many avenues you could take to enter advertising or media these days. An education in marketing, communications, maths, computer sciences or psychology would all be relevant to different aspects of the industry. I’m a firm believer that curiosity is the most important quality for success. If you’re curious, you’ll grow quickly.

What personal trait makes you best suited to your role?

Having thick skin. There are ups and downs, all day, every day. The only constant in the industry and the workplace is change. If you can ride change, you can do anything – and stay sane

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

If you want to break into media, seek out and read Google, Amazon and Facebook training modules and certification. They are free. Even if you don’t end up on that side of the industry, it will give you insight into how their advertising works and how content is monetized.

And listen to yourself and learn as much as possible. There will always be opportunities where you can make a bit more money, work with a more glamorous client. Try not to get too distracted by the grass being greener and focus on real personal growth. As long as you are still learning, there is space to work yourself up the ladder towards your dream role.

Last week we spoke to Khartoon Weiss, head of global agency and accounts at TikTok.