Welcome to So You Want My Job?ach 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 Shane MacRory, senior media consultant at diversity media firm DECA.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Does your job now resemble that in any way?
There was a time I really wanted to be a doctor, and then it was a fireman for a while, but then my mind turned to food before I realised being a chef was not an easy career path. I ended up settling on being an actor as that seemed like the easier option. Now I am a senior media consultant for a diversity agency (DECA) you can see that none of those career paths were where I ended up.
I’d compare coming to DECA to going to the doctor – we help mould and mend campaign ideas to ensure they are authentic and diverse to appeal to underrepresented audiences at scale. Brands come to us at the beginning of an idea or halfway through if something is not working, so I guess we help put out small fires as well.
When you look at it like that, I’ve got to a few careers in one… in terms of the element of wanting to help people. I think my role offers the opportunity to fulfill this desire in a small way.
How did you get your job? Tell us the full long story?
I originally trained to be an actor but not long after I qualified, I stepped away from this. While I worked out what my passion was long term, I spent several years selling car insurance in a call centre, which was a desperate time (I wasn’t the best).
To get away from the continuous ringing of the phones I joined the training team. I was handed a ‘training’ script and an audience, and I immediately felt at home as the trainees laughed at my jokes and applauded my efforts to train and entertain them. This led to training full-time, which further led me into sales and marketing and finally, I found myself in a management consultancy.
Throughout my journey I’d always known the founder of Brand Advance, Chris Kenna, as we used to house share back in the day – so we’re good mates. We always talked about doing something together and in 2020 the time was right. Chris was expanding the business and there was an opportunity for me to join, and soon later we launched DECA. It was built on the premise that switched on brands would be asking “where are we as a company and how can we do better in reaching diverse communities” and knowing there was appetite from less switched-on brands “to understand why the industry should wake up and truly reflect the diverse world we live in”.
My career has always been a ‘right place, right time’. I’ve found something or people I am passionate about and followed that rather than having a roadmap. The key to success is to follow your heart.
Ok, so what do you actually do? How would you explain your job to a taxi driver?
The ‘A’ in DECA stands for action not awareness, so I aim to help brands and agencies adapt their campaign strategy to meet the needs of diverse communities. We focus on putting words into action and helping marketers realise their diversity dividend.
Do your parents understand what it is that you do?
My dad nods and smiles when I discuss anything around my work but I’m not sure he’s really understood anything I’ve done since I was in my 20s, which is some fortnights ago. But he is extremely supportive, nonetheless.
What do you love most about your job?
This is more than a job, it means something. This is the first job I am truly open about my sexuality because why the hell shouldn’t I be? I believe that advertising has the power to deliver change – just seeing positive reflections of diverse communities has given me the confidence to be myself and allows others to see me as a person. Diversity goes beyond just the seen, it’s also the unseen and my job helps others realise this.
How would someone entering the industry go about getting your job now? What would be their route?
We are huge advocates of giving people that chance and we want our internal team to represent the audiences and communities we are aiming to target. Chris often says he could have easily employed a team that had years of experience behind them and were experts in their field, but this would have resulted in a pool of talent all being from the same backgrounds. Our team is multidisciplinary, and I think that really opens multiple opportunities for all.
What advice would you offer to others entering the advertising industry, especially at this weird time?
Industry-wide we have seen a rise in the want and need to be more authentic and this is not just something businesses are looking to portray externally but also within their teams. I am a firm believer you will always end up where you want to be, you just need to believe in yourself and be passionate about what you do. If you have that it will radiate, and people will feel it.
Who should those who want your job read or listen to?
We are a start-up that is growing fast, and this requires a great level of agility and flexibility day-to-day. It’s also about having that passion for inspiring positive change, a creative flair, and that business-minded can-do attitude. I’d like to think I possess elements of all of these traits, well most of the time.
I’d definitely recommend ‘Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking’ by Malcolm Gladwell – it’s a great read on psychology and behavioural economics research on the adaptive unconscious. Another great read is ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman.
Last week we spoke to Hugo Veiga, chief creative officer at AKQA in Sao Paulo, Brazil.