I am in my second year as a WPP Fellow. The WPP Fellowship scheme is loosely structured - three different operating companies; one year each. Three different disciplines of the marketing business. Three different countries, even continents, if you’re up for an adventure. A seemingly endless array of choices of where to go and what to do next. Unlike many schemes, the decision over rotations lies with you, supervised by a fleet of very vocal and very wise WPP counsellors. To date, I’ve done a year in brand strategy in London at the Brand Union, a year in content creation at Mindshare, a media agency in New York, and next year I face again this burden of choice. Really, it’s awesome, but it’s also hard. It means being the new person three times in a row, getting whiplash from moving so much, and the emotional rollercoaster of gaining confidence and skills only to feel like you’re back at square one several months later. The benefit, of course, is that you’re never actually at square one - but evolving, growing, and accelerating at a blinding pace.
My current role involves: elbowing through crowds every morning as I debark at Penn Station in NYC and make my way into the most corporate of old-world NY skyscrapers. This is a sharp contrast from last year’s casual stroll through the cobblestoned streets of North-East London to get to my swanky designer office. At Mindshare Entertainment, we make content for brands. The stuff we make varies project by project. A Long-form web series? Sure. Banner ads to run on Facebook? Easy. An off Broadway show? It’s been known to happen.
Currently, I am working on a 90s revival campaign for the summer for an American snack brand, helping a bank go on a worldwide tour with the best restaurant in the world, and crafting a groundbreaking program for four hair brands where we create ‘agile’ content. By agile, we mean responding (planning/shooting/post-producing/distributing) within a week to hair trends in culture. My agency makes content in house, but we also work with publishers or various technologies to co-create content on behalf of brands, so I’ve gotten to learn a lot of who the players are. Sometimes I feel like I am in the matrix. My role bridges strategy (asking what is the purpose of this and why should anyone care?) with the creative (how can this most powerfully come to life?). Next year I am looking to do a purely creative role.
I got this job the usual way for WPP - a background that had nothing to do with marketing, a patchwork of countries/experiences under my belt, a strangely intimate preliminary essay, and two grueling rounds of interviews (the final: a marathon two-day challenge of professional speed-dating, pitching to a roomful of WPP leaders, and stomaching three-course meals and jetlag).
I chose WPP because they wanted to hire for me for who I was, and it’s a powerful thing to be seen. Because I wasn’t sure what exactly my destination was, but sure I wanted to be going somewhere, many places, and fast.