Ryan O’Connell heads up strategy for Ogilvy Australia, overseeing a team of 16 and the strategy disciplines of brand, behavioural science, business, comms, CRM, data, digital, social and UX. He is also one of the industry-leading facilitators for AdSchool’s Core Strategic Planning course, which kicks off on April 28 in Sydney, Melbourne and online and in Perth on July 21. Here he gives some insights into the qualities of a great strategist, why this course is worth doing and who it’s for.
Why is upskilling in strategy so important these days?
The best creatives I’ve worked with are incredibly strategic despite creativity being their core skill set, plus the best account managers I’ve worked with think strategically as well. Irrespective of which discipline you fall into, or if you want to be a strategist, understanding the foundations of effective strategy is beneficial to your career, and this is what AdSchool’s Core Strategic Planning course provides in terms of key learnings. Being a strong strategic thinker in an agency or within the industry is extremely valuable.
Are those who are more strategic in their work considered to be a greater asset to the team or agency?
Being able to think strategically makes your creative work better because you’re already thinking ahead and not waiting for the brief. You’re not waiting for the strategic response from the planner because you’re ahead of the game. And from an account manager’s perspective, being able to understand your client’s business, category, consumer and target audience from a strategy perspective is valuable.
What skills do participants come away with after completing the course?
This course is brilliant in that it gives you the basics or foundations of effective strategy – things that you can build your career on. It’s obviously good to learn by osmosis or by picking up knowledge from colleagues during the agency experience, but your ability to deliver on the job is amplified when you have the basics down pat, like understanding brand strategy, how to uncover insights, write a great creative brief, utilise research, use campaign planning, measure outcomes and more. When you’re equipped with the basics, you can learn faster as opposed to playing catch up and having to figure out the different strategic elements and outcomes. You’ve already got a bedrock foundation, or a toolkit of sorts, to take your thinking to the next level. That’s what this course offers – a brilliant outline of the basics of good strategy.
What makes a good strategist? What qualities or attributes do they have?
A great strategist has a thirst for knowledge. It’s our job to know stuff. Admittedly it’s hard to know everything but if you have the willingness and the enthusiasm to want to learn as much as possible and learn new insights, new categories, new things about your targets and audience and brand, that thirst for knowledge and wanting to know and find out more is a great strategist’s real skill set. Another key attribute is being a great listener. The best strategists are keen listeners because that’s the best way to learn.
Who is this course geared towards?
There is a bunch of people that would take a lot out of AdSchool’s Core Strategic Planning course. Junior planners and junior strategists are the obvious answer but junior creatives, senior and junior marketers, and juniors at the client end will benefit too. Anyone who’s keen to get a good understanding of the fundamentals of great strategy will take a lot from this course. I could be cheeky and say everyone but it’s those people in particular who would take a lot from it.