Introducing Megan Wailes, senior account manager at AJF Partnership and graduate of our IPA Business & Agency Leadership 2016 course. She reveals the value of work experience over a degree, and taking a step back from the day to day to focus on the bigger picture.

TCC: How long have you been in the industry and in your current role?

MW: I’ve been in the industry for seven years and in my current role as a senior account manager for around a year.

TCC: What is the best thing about your job and being in the industry?

MW: The obvious answer – the people we meet. The teams and clients I have worked with throughout my career are like-minded, driven and above all passionate about the work we do as an industry. Also, the end of year parties aren’t half bad either.

TCC: What made you want to get into the industry?

MW: I’ve always had a fascination with various aspects advertising — from catchy jingles that have withstood the tests of time to what drives people to be so loyal to certain brands. As a kid I had a full-page Foster’s press ad pinned up in my bedroom (weird, I know) and remember being in awe of Skechers ads in Dolly magazine.

TCC: What was your degree in?

MW: I actually never completed a degree. I was lucky enough to land my first job at the age of 20, and chose to discontinue my studies, as as I felt that on-the-job experience would be invaluable.

TCC: What are your wider career goals?

MW: Ultimately, I want to work on groundbreaking campaigns that make people both within and outside of the industry take notice and create change for our clients and their brands.

TCC: Who do you look up to in the industry?

MW: Through the course I’ve done with The Communications Council, I’ve met so many influential people from the industry. I definitely took something with me from each of the speakers at the IPA course in 2016, however I can’t help but have the utmost respect for the women in leadership roles in our industry who juggle families, a successful career and everything else.

TCC: What are your main sources of career inspiration?

MW: Generally, what gets me psyched about what our industry is doing comes from attending AMG and Comms Council events. The Work Behind the Work, Cannes Showcase etc – getting to learn about some of the best campaigns both locally and worldwide just helps set an inspiring benchmark for what’s possible within our own agencies.

TCC: What motivates you on both a daily basis and to keep striving towards your goals?

MW: Day-to-day motivation comes from simple things like a lovely email from a grateful client when you’ve gone the extra mile, the first internal review of work, when it’s really good and you know the ideas will go far, or walking out of a presentation that you know impressed. For me, these are moments where you can’t help but give yourself a mental high-five.

TCC: What made you want to do the IPA Business & Agency Leadership course?

MW: Mainly out of curiosity as to what the next steps in my career would look like. There is another level to account management and client services, which I knew so little about. I wanted to shed some light on what was ahead for me and what it meant to be a leader in our industry. I also had really taken a lot from both of the AdSchool courses I’d done in the past and knew that this course would be crucial to my growth.

TCC: How would you describe the course in a nutshell?

MW: Being on-site for three days meant it was totally immersive. Sometimes it’s hard to take a step back from our day-to-day work and focus on the bigger picture, but having no distractions and just engaging with the speakers and each other, allowed participants to absorb as much as possible from the course.

TCC: What was the best thing about it?

MW: The opportunity to hear stories of leaders both within and outside of our industry was eye-opening, along with meeting like-minded people in similar roles.

TCC: What was the number one thing you were able to apply in your day to day work?

MW: For me, being one of the more junior people in the course, the main take out was that leadership can come from any level. Being a leader doesn’t have to be about hierarchy or titles and doesn’t mean always being right, or being the most senior person in the room – but can come from a mindset or working style.

TCC: What is your favourite project/campaign you’ve worked on to date?

MW: One of the brands I currently work with is Dare iced coffee. We’ve partnered with Dare over time to develop a strong creative platform (‘Not Thinking Straight Moments’) to springboard great ideas off of. Just recently we’ve been working on the launch of the Dare Cold Pressed offering, which is the next exciting installment in the brand’s journey. Any work we do for Dare is enjoyable.

TCC: What’s your passion outside of work?

MW: I grew up in the outer eastern suburbs, which is where most of my friends and family are based so my weekends are usually spent out that way catching up with everyone. Or winding down at the gym just to keep myself sane.

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