The AdSchool Account Management for Tomorrow course offers the ultimate toolkit for an ambitious account person, brand manager or anyone who wants to master the process of commercial creativity. We caught up with Melbourne course lecturer Jess Hughes, Client Services Director DDB Melbourne, to get her take on all things account management.

TCC: What do you love about the client service side of the advertising business?

Jess: I love working with clients to creatively solve their business problems, there’s satisfaction in that. I also love that in business management you’re exposed to a wide range of subject matter experts so you’re constantly learning, and you’re also the constant in the whole process so you are a part of the project from start to finish.

TCC: Anything you definitely don’t love about it?

Jess: Those times that you’re stuck negotiating between creative and clients. Trying to find a good solution for all can be tough, but I’ve also found that having a healthy debate about work can also lead to better outcomes and has at times made the work even better as a result.

TCC: How has the client service discipline changed/evolved during your time in the industry?

: Whilst the fundamentals of client service haven’t changed that much (it’s still about building trusted relationships with clients), as part of the job we need to constantly be up-skilling so we can add value to clients and spot new opportunities. So changes in emerging media and tech have probably been the biggest change that I’ve noticed, especially in the last 3 years. You need to be a expert-generalist, knowing a little bit about everything. Noone officially sits you down to teach you about these things, but you learn through having a natural curiosity, talking to people, keeping up to date with industry news and courses etc.

TCC: In your opinion, what is the most important skill for any successful account manager to possess?

Jess: I’m believe you need two to be successful – Curiosity and resilience.

TCC: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing account management in the next five years?

Jess: In a world where we need to continue to do more with less, to me the biggest challenge account management faces is continuing to prove our value, and not just be seen as project managers. If clients haven’t experienced good account management in the past it can sometimes be hard for them to appreciate and understand the value that their adding to their business. A great account person is more than someone who just sets up meetings and creates timelines, they become a true extension of the client’s marketing team and represents their brand at the agency. They’re proactive not reactive, are constantly thinking about ways the agency can help solve client problems, they have expert brand and category knowledge, help shape the strategy and creative and provide that trusted counterpart for clients to liaise with.

TCC: What key learnings would you like Account Management for Tomorrow participants to take away from this course?

Jess: That account management is more than just an admin role, a successful account person is vital to driving business performance and championing the work. I would like account managers to learn and understand the value that they can bring to their accounts and the wider agency business.

TCC: If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self just starting out in advertising, what would it be?

Jess: Don’t take things personally, and remember ‘we’re not saving lives here’.
In account management you deal with a wide range of people and personalities, and being a creative industry things rarely go to plan, so understanding that you will encounter tricky situations and that it’s inevitable that you will have challenging discussions with people that might leave you feeling a bit deflated. Keeping a healthy mindset is important, keep it professional, don’t let the little things get you down, be present but then know when to let things go.

About Jess: Starting off as a receptionist for an ad agency straight out of school, so began Jess’s love-hate relationship with the industry. Now, with over 18 years’ experience working in full-service creative agencies, Jess heads up the Client Services department at DDB Melbourne. Over the years she has honed her skills through building iconic brands, creating performance driven campaign strategies and executing contextual creative campaigns across the entire customer journey. Her experience spans a variety of industries working on brands such as Suncorp, NAB, Origin, TAC, Bank of Melbourne, Latitude Financial Services, Carsales and RMIT. Jess is obsessed by making the work better and believes that ‘suits’ have an integral role to play in making this happen.

All the details on the AdSchool Account Management for Tomorrow course here.