"You can teach anyone the skills, such as how to lead an account or how to draw pictures, but, that spark, really caring about the business, wanting to get in and dirty is what I look for and isn't everywhere."
I had a fascinating conversation with Andrea Cook, a smart business woman who runs a global ad agency. She's got great tips for young people who are interested in getting into the advertising industry.
Watch and listen to the conversation here.
Andrea completed a Bachelor of Arts at University of Western Ontario, and after a short stint on a trading floor, decided to try out the advertising industry, an area she'd been drawn to back in tenth grade as a summer intern. She worked her way "from the bottom floor, all the way to the top" and describes advertising as a "youthful, fun, dynamic, high energy type of business."
She explained that in advertising, people tend to move around from one agency to another. Each agency has its own relationships, so get a wide range of experiences, it's important to move around. Most people don't stay at the same place for their whole career.
In her work as President, Andrea focuses on team management and overall team leadership: escalation of issues, financials (P & Ls), overall business vision, and lots of meetings.
She explained that ad agencies have different general divisions: strategy, creative (writers, art directors, designers), account services (client relations, budgets, etc), producers (tech, TV directors etc), administration and finance departments. People with different interests, skills, and backgrounds can find fulfilling work in this industry.
Andrea started out in accounts services, which she thinks is a great place to start, and then move into other areas of the agency.
OTHER CONVERSATION HIGHLIGHTS:
you can intern and come / enter into any part of the business.
people who do well are the ones who "buckle down and really are curious and push."
"the hours can be gruelling. We do a lot of pitching, in condensed timelines, often one on top of one another. The days can get long."
what she loves about her work: "it's fun, dynamic. I do something different every day. It's fun to see the inner workings of different industries."
people come from all walks of life, so you get a mishmash of people in advertising, and that's what makes it great.
ADVICE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE:
to get into the advertising business, there's no one education that's better than another. You can get in with a college or university education, or an internship.
you need a passion for your area of work.
successful people need passion, commitment, and a quick brain.
get some basic office experience.
be very self aware. Understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie. We all have stuff we need to work on and these will evolve over your growth as a leader.
be open and in tune to feedback.
have coffee meetings, or interviews with people to learn about career possibilities.
On what she would tell her younger self:
"You come across doubters in a business. I wouldn't waste time. Stick to my guns and my instincts."
Here's more scoop about Andrea:
Andrea Cook is the Global President of FCB/SIX, a 1:1 data and digital creative agency. With more than two decades of communications experience, Andrea is an industry leader in the art of connecting brands to consumers in the digital and data age. Under Andrea’s leadership, FCB/SIX was ranked a top agency at Cannes in 2018 and 2019, is hailed as one of North America’s most progressive agencies of its time by AdWeek and is a WARC top 30 global agency. In April 2019 FCB/SIX was recognized as the #1 Data and Analytics Agency of the Year by Ad Age.
Andrea also dedicates her time to the promoting the development of women in the industry, including spearheading the launch of the Times- Up/Advertising Canada and leading the Canadian chapter of the Cannes ‘See It Be It’ program since 2016. In 2020 Andrea was named a Female Frontier winner by Campaign US.
This conversation was interesting and I could feel the passion Andrea has for her work, and lifestyle (even over Zoom!)
Thank you Andrea for sharing your stories and ideas with our audience!
This interview was taped during the COVID19 pandemic, June 2020.