Introducing Symon van Haalen, senior business director at Saatchi & Saatchi Melbourne and graduate of our IPA Business & Agency Leadership 2016 course. He reflects on the power of creativity and passion for his work.

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

SVH: I started my career as an AFA graduate at Clemenger BBDO in 2007. This is my 10th year working in the Melbourne advertising industry. I’m currently in my second year at Saatchi & Saatchi.

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

SVH: Creativity. It’s such a powerful thing and the fundamental resource we sell. It’s the reason I enjoy working in advertising. I’ve also had the opportunity to work on such a diverse range of businesses. Working in a new field still excites me.

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

SVH: I actually applied to be a graphic designer, teacher and communications executive. But I chose the communications industry because it looked sexy from the outside and I liked the fact that advertising mixes art and business.

TCC: What was your degree in?

SVH: Bachelor of Communications, University of Canberra.

TCC: What are your wider career goals?

SVH: My wife and I are expecting our first child in September, so in the short-term I’m looking for stability and continuing to grow the brands I’m working on. Beyond that I’d like to combine my passion for marketing/advertising and the sporting industry in a corporate sponsorship role.

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

SVH: Whoever is doing the best and most interesting work.

TCC: What are your main sources of career inspiration?

SVH: I look to the global award shows for inspiration. I try to stay up to date by reading AdNews magazine, Campaign Brief and Mumbrella. I also listen to the ABC podcast – Download this Show and the CMO Show.

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

SVH: I have a slight jealousy when I see great work. This regularly motivates me, because who doesn’t want to be producing globally recognised work? My wife also provides me the motivation to do better than I did the day before.

TCC: What made you want to do IPA Business & Agency leadership last year?

SVH: I was selected as the Saatchi Australia account service representative.

TCC: How would you describe it in a nutshell?

SVH: It was insightful and thought provoking. It also provided me the chance to reflect on my career (which is rare).

TCC: What was the best thing about it?

SVH: Having the course hosted by one of the great leaders from Clemenger and the quality of speakers during the three days. The Comms Council did an amazing job pulling such a diverse and high calibre group together.

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

SVH: Since the course, the key differences in my work approach have centred on people management and showing leadership to others within the business.

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

SVH: I’m passionate about sports, and in particular soccer, so getting to launch Nike’s street Football brand, Football X, was a career highlight.

TCC: What’s your passion outside of work?

SVH: Other than sport, I enjoy the chance to travel and being active (especially getting on the bike). I’ve also got a bit of a green thumb.

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