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What do they do all day? David’s Paula Vampre on the role of a chief strategy officer

By Paula Vampre | Global chief strategy officer

October 4, 2023 | 7 min read

This week, as part of our series demystifying the many job titles that make up adland, David’s global chief strategy officer, Paula Vampre, shares what her post really entails.

Paula Vampre

Paula Vampre, global chief strategy officer of David / David

I moved to the US two weeks before the pandemic hit. It was an interesting landing. Everyone asked how I liked Miami, but it took me at least two years to actually explore it and get a feel for the city. We lived in a bit of a twilight zone.

I’m originally from Brazil. The first agency I worked for was Ogilvy, so I’m kind of coming back [to David, named after David Ogilvy]. I actually started my career in the account services department as a trainee. Unilever’s Dove was one of the clients where I was part of the account team. I remember it going through some kind of innovation process where it needed to work on literal product concepts. It would work out what the insight was, what the benefit was, what the reason to believe was. As a trainee, I had a crack at writing one myself and the concept I wrote started to get some traction within our working groups. I thought, ‘Oh, this is fun!’

That was my first glimpse of what the world of strategy could look like. The discipline wasn’t as well evolved or as matured at that time; it was very research-based, very much to do with the market.

I’ve been with David for three and a half years now. We like to call ourselves an ‘intimate network’ even though we’re present in six markets because we are quite small – at a global level we fluctuate, but the strategy department includes between 25 and 27 people.

The people we bring in are people we would love to hang out with outside the office. And each office has their own special thing that makes them interesting to work with. Obviously, my fellow Brazilians feel like home for me, but I’ve been away from Brazil for so long now…

I wear multiple hats. My day goes on managing the departments in the US [Miami and New York], as well as making sure I’m aware of what’s going on in Madrid, Bogota, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires. It’s about making sure we are sharing knowledge, making information flow and travel, building on things that have worked well for us and encouraging each office to implement.

I wouldn’t really be able to pinpoint a fundamental difference between a planner and a strategist. Some people feel the latter is a bit more contemporary, that perhaps it encompasses an updated way of thinking. But it’s potayto-potahto.

Thankfully, I love to get down with the actual work. There are some projects involving younger talent that require a bit more of my involvement. That’s good for them and for me. They’re able to work with senior people and I’m able to exercise the muscles of being involved in actual live briefs. It’s a win-win.

I have a few bosses: the partners [Fernando] Musa and Pancho [Cassis] and Sylvia [Panico], who is our global chief operating officer. Among the C-suite, we have weekly connects to discuss talent and discuss which businesses we might be going after next. I bring the analytical side of the brain into those discussions, bring some rational points to the table, a more holistic view – whether it is understanding where we can be growing more or that we don’t have enough people.

As planners, we need to shift between left and right brain very often, perhaps more than any other discipline. We’re required to shift gears in a seamless way.

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We are very mindful of the clients that we pitch as a network; it’s important that we only put in the talent and the effort where we really feel there is a fit. There’s an understanding that we don’t pitch as much as others.

But when we do, I definitely get involved. If it’s a small or locally led pitch, not so much – I might get involved in some additional consulting. But if it’s something with a global reach, I’ll be involved in a kickoff – assigning the teams that are going to be part of it, as well as being integral to the thinking process up to the end, though I’m mindful that the teams who are going to be leading the accounts are at the forefront of a pitch.

We pride ourselves on bringing talent from the business to the forefront and giving them the opportunity for a bit of exposure.

As told to Sam Bradley.

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