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What do they do all day? Assembly’s Laura Shaw on the role of a strategy manager

By Laura Shaw, Strategy manager

August 9, 2023 | 6 min read

As part of our new series demystifying the many job titles that make up adland, Laura Shaw of media agency Assembly talks us through the role of strategy manager.

laura shaw

Assembly strategy manager Laura Shaw explains her job / Assembly

I’ve been a strategy manager for a year and a half. And I’ve been at Assembly for four years. I love working here – they put people first.

I had a big career change four years ago; I actually started my career as a nursery school teacher. But marketing had always interested me.

I started here as a trainee on a six-month program; we have a really good training program for entry-level positions.

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It’s interesting to look at brands as a whole. Strategy involves a lot of big-picture thinking. There are times when we’re looking at big client briefs and we’re working on a ‘big idea’ and we can get really creative with it. But then we also have to be really analytical when it comes to our strategy. It’s a nice balance.

I manage one person officially – a strategy executive – and then I’ll help out with other people like grads, execs. My boss is the strategy partner at Assembly.

We’re responsible mainly for responding to client briefs and handling overall media marketing strategies; a huge part of our role is client communication and client relationships. Our job is to understand client needs from a media perspective and also sometimes from a business growth perspective.

I have a set of clients that I work on day to day. It depends on the ebbs and flows of the business, but the aim is always to stay on account as long as possible. The longer you’re with an account the better your relationship with the client. I’ve been with one of mine since I started in strategy.

The actual tasks that we do day to day are extremely varied – no two days are the same in the world of a strategy manager. But essentially, we respond to client briefs.

We start with insights when we receive a brief and approach them using our ’4Cs framework’. We look at four things, the client, the consumer, the culture, and the category. Those feed into the strategy overall. The briefs can range from a comms framework to campaign briefs to market expansion strategies, connecting brand and performance, or identifying audiences and communities.

We play a big part in the wider business. Strategy is about connecting the dots. We’re an omnichannel agency, so being part of the strategy team means being able to understand all the different elements of an account and being able to connect those together. So we have to collaborate with pretty much every department. Particularly, the activation teams, the planning teams, the client experience and leadership teams, and also the consultancy teams.

There’s a lot of strategy that goes into new business pitches – we are almost always involved.

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It can be stressful, but it’s really rewarding. Pitches are intense. But they give you the opportunity to work with people who you might not be working with. And the chance to tackle new briefs and tackle different challenges that you might not get with the clients you work on day to day. It’s a really good learning opportunity.

With strategy, the options for a future career are almost endless. You have to learn so many different things and if something later becomes particularly interesting, it means you can follow that path if you want to. You could end up as a CMO in-house or as head of strategy at an agency.

As told to Sam Bradley.

Assembly Agencies Agency Culture

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