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A chat with Lisa

She’s got experience in spades spanning over different countries, clients and lane-changes. Our Client Director Lisa can be found zipping around Tāmaki Makaurau. This month, we got to know our newest recruit and learn about her approach to the creative industry.

Tell us about your career path so far.

I kicked off my career in South Africa. After two days as a teacher, I thought “what the f*&k have I done”? So I studied again, this time a marketing degree, then landed a gig at TBWA as a personal assistant. I then did workflow trafficking for about 3 years, working with about 35 creatives – talk about a learning curve! I loved working alongside creatives, and later, with a fabulous client services director.

Eventually, I followed a Kiwi guy to New Zealand. I had to switch to whatever I could actually get for work, which was initially client services at a telecoms company. Next came a production house and then Platform29, where I helped them grow Skinny Mobile from the new kid on the block to where they are today. Then we arrive at my recent role at Bob’s Your Uncle. We started small and I helped grow it to a place where we won the Contact Energy contract, which was big for us. Somewhere in the mix, the owners took a sabbatical, leading me to take the reins of the business and keep us top of our game while they were away. I needed a change, which is where my newest role at Strategy comes in.

With all that experience, what keeps you in this industry?

Sometimes, I do ask myself: “Why the hell am I in advertising?”.
I have tried, but I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.I get to work with the coolest people to help solve a problem. What excites me is the collab between creative and client to find a solution that brings joy.

How do you navigate being the bridge between client and creative?

Being part of the client team is super important – it means true collaboration can happen. We’re on board with their objectives, their knowledge and context. In turn, they’re comfortable with us and open to hearing new approaches.

For creatives, there’s a fine line to dance on. You’ve got to keep creatives and strategists excited about the project, but also keep them within the limitations of the brief. I like to set really clear parameters to allow for creativity, but also manage expectations.

I’m also a really big believer in challenging conventional thinking. Challenging the status quo is where the best ideas come from. So, being able to present ideas that scratch that itch often leads to even greater work.

What is your approach in the world of new business?

You've got to have a strategic approach – each client has specific needs. I do a couple of different things. Some clients just need a little red dot notification to spark some interest. Most often, it’s referrals that bring in new work. So updating our channels consistently, like the website, LinkedIn and other socials is super important. Other times, it’s about working together once, to see if we’re a good fit for each other. It’s less of a leap of faith, and more seeing if we’re compatible.

How do you balance your love for meeting people in person, and the realities of digital life?

I'm quite a people person – I like to get in front of somebody to be able to gauge a room easily and help build a strong partnership.

Now that so many interactions are online, it’s just something I’ve had to work around. You’ve got to be yourself as much as you can, be collaborative and be consistent. I love catching up with clients (and the team!) often. I find it nurtures those relationships and gets to better outcomes for everyone involved.

What other major changes have you seen in the industry?

I think budgets have been getting tighter and clients are much more cautious with where their money goes. This means I’ve seen a lot more tools and resources being created to help the client do it themselves. I’ve also seen more efficient channels take off, like the prominence and focus on digital ads. Previously, it was all TVC’s and takeover campaigns; it’s now about using digital ad channels in clever ways to reach the right people.

With tighter briefs, it also means we can try something interesting. I personally love a proactive brief - finding different angles and creating something you’ve always wanted to do for a client. I’ve found most of the time, if it’s a good idea clients will find a budget for it.

How do you achieve work-life balance?

To be honest, I really battle with this. I think it’s important to find the balance though - if you don't look after yourself, you can't do your job or look after anybody else either. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

What are your top things about living, working and playing in Tāmaki Makaurau? What keeps you there?

Tāmaki Makaurau has so much cool stuff going on. Festivals, cultural events, food options - there’s so much happening on a social level that I love.

I’ve lived in Mt Eden, Pt Chev and as of six months ago, the North Shore. I’m loving it - the beaches in particular! It just so happens that my suburb is home to every single South African that’s ever emigrated to New Zealand, so it feels like home. People speak South African - or even Afrikaans! - in the streets. You can find boerewors, milk tarts or lemon twists in all the shops. Even my son agrees it feels like back home.

What do you do outside of work that can transfer into your work life?

I’ve challenged myself to learn guitar without the help of my guitar-obsessed partner, Dan. I’m still in the thick of it, but I'm learning that if you challenge yourself, give it the hours and stick at it, you can achieve it. I’ll be serenading the team at WIPs in no time.

Reading American Dirt by Jeanine Cunnings.

Listening to Live at the Aquarium by Elderbrook.

Watching re-runs of Yellowstone.

Wishing I was in South Africa for the summer, in the beautiful dry heat with my family.

Obsessing over the feng shui of my office desk (or lack of it).