We’re delighted to announce AdSchool’s new lecturer in Perth, Sandra De Witt, who will be heading up the Account Management for Tomorrow course from 20 August. The Communications Council spoke with Sandra to get her valued insights into our industry, and to find out what motivates her.
TCC: What is the best thing about your job and being in the industry?
Sandra: Advertising forces you to see the world through a different lens, where problem-solving isn’t linear and a solution is whipped up using a concoction of expertise that you personally mix together. Every day I’m encouraged to push aside my preconceived philosophies and consider new ways of getting around an old problem. Being surrounded by experts in diverse fields is fascinating and a total perk. No matter what challenge you have to solve, you feel in control because you know that you’ll be able to reach the best solution with a careful selection of the right brains.
TCC: What made you want to get into the industry?
Sandra: The green-eyed monster led me into advertising. At some point during my upbringing I set myself the expectation that my parents wanted me to study accounting. To this day, I have no idea where that came from, but regardless it led me to apply for a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in accounting – a course that made me feel trapped, but I thought would make my parents proud.
Midway through my first semester, I recall sitting at the hairdressers with my mother and running into a classmate’s mother. She told us that my classmate was studying advertising. I turned to my mother and said “Advertising. That sounds so interesting, isn’t she lucky…”
My mother looked at me completely bewildered and told me that they had only suggested some options because I seemed confused, but that I could have any career I wanted. A few days later she helped me change my degree to Marketing and PR.
It was the greatest gift my mother ever gave me – the freedom to study what I was truly passionate about.
TCC: What are your main sources of career inspiration?
Sandra: If I ever need inspiration, I turn to the battlers. They’re not always the most successful or well-recognised people in business, but they are the ones that have a knack for making something out of nothing. The ones that face heavy hardship, get things done and come out the other end better for it. The ones that don’t complain and just get on with it. The ones for whom no challenge is ever too big. Ultimately, they’re the ones that fight hard at work for their families’ sake. I respect that.
TCC: What motivates you on both a daily basis and to keep striving towards your goals?
Sandra: There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my family and I have to credit my parents for that. My family is always at the end of the goalposts; every time I take aim and kick to reach another goal, I do it for them.
My parents taught me that having a job was something to be really proud of – no matter where you work, a job is a blessing that needs to be appreciated and protected. A job isn’t something that takes, it gives. A job gives you security, utility, and growth. There is value in working hard and loving what you do – anything that comes from that is a bonus.
TCC: What do you think are the ideal qualities needed to succeed in account management?
Sandra: I would say the top four ideal qualities needed to succeed in account management are:
Communication: A great suit is a skilled communicator; they know how to express themselves clearly and with the right frequency.
Multi-tasking: Most suits thrive on managing many jobs at the same time. They’re particularly good at keeping track of progress and always know what the next step is, when asked.
Recognising creativity: Although suits aren’t creatives or designers, they do need to be able to recognise great creative when they see it. It’s just as important for suits to keep on top of trends, as it is for any one else in the business.
Project management: Suits are great at seeing a complex idea and building a clear process that anyone can follow.
TCC: What is your favourite project/campaign you’ve worked on to date?
Sandra: That’s a tough question – it’s like asking which of your children is your favourite!
I honestly haven’t worked on a campaign that I haven’t been proud of. If I had to pick a particularly rewarding campaign, I would have to say it would be our Step Forward campaign for the WA Police Force. Our local Police Officers go above and beyond their duty to keep our State safe, to play a part in helping recruit the future of the Force has been a gift.
We created a campaign that helped civilians identify certain traits within them that would make them excellent Police Officers. I have since had the opportunity to attend many Recruit graduations and it has warmed my heart when some of the graduating Officers have told me that one of the Step Forward ads inspired them to apply.
Most of the time you set a campaign out into the world and market research gives you quantitative results that measure the effectiveness of the campaign – it is essential. But there’s nothing as rewarding as personally witnessing how an ad has impacted someone’s life and will continue to make ripples in the community.
TCC: What’s your passion outside of work?
Sandra: I’m passionate about enjoying life, and everything it brings with it, as much as possible. That means recognising the beauty in the mundane, making the most out of the opportunities I get, being kind to others, and just purely being happy whenever possible. I don’t ever want to reach a point in my life when I realise that I wasted time dwelling on things I can’t control or sulking over something that didn’t end up being as big of a deal later. I guess it’s a passion that transcends the unspoken boundaries between life and work.