When you grow up watching your parents’ adverts and learning the industry lingo before you’re a teenager, it makes sense that you might choose a career in advertising. For current graduate, Paloma Newton, account executive at J. Walter Thompson (JWT) she applied her creativity, love for Mad Men and leverage of topical matters to earn her spot. We caught up with her to find out her she’s enjoying agency life and what she got from enrolling in the program.

TCC: What made you apply to this year’s Grad Program?

PN: I was applying for a bunch of programs and I was already working in social media, but I wasn’t I guess, progressing. Honestly, it was more that I found it boring and tedious.

When I was looking for jobs – they were all looking for at least two years experience and I couldn’t understand why, until I got into an agency and now I see all the different parts of it – production /creative/account services.

I remember on my first day of the grad program even, they asked me whether I’d like to be in  PR or Accounts and I wasn’t sure, because I didn’t realise there were even those two distinct departments. At the time I thought accounts was literally accounting, and I knew I didn’t want to do PR

I’ve found the program is a good way to learn about the industry – it isn’t a particularly easy industry to locate information about and so it’s been useful in that respect.

TCC: How do you feel about the agency you were placed with– JWT?

PN: I’m reluctant to talk too much about the concept of culture to people who don’t work in the industry yet because it most likely doesn’t mean anything to them, but we do have a great one here. Everyone at JWT genuinely is good to work with and we don’t have a huge hierarchy– If you’re capable, you don’t feel trapped in any type of role. We have a policy ‘Be hard on the work, not on each other’ I like that philosophy.

For example, I’m doing a campaign that I’m leading and run day to day on my own, with the help of my GAD [Group Account Director] when needed and I’ve spoken to a lot of people from different agencies who might not be given that same opportunity to expand, whereas I think JWT recognise people talents here and push you that little bit.

TCC: What campaign are you working on right now?

PN: I was up in Brisbane last week for our shoot with Schick, their women’s shave campaign. 

TCC: What do you enjoy about the role you’re in at the moment?

PN: I think as someone who has gone into an accounts role, the fact that you see a project from brief to go live– I really like that. Whereas someone who works in Production comes in and out, a little bit.

TCC: What advice for grads do you have who are entering the program?

1.    Be honest about what your interests are and where they lie.
From the get go agencies were aware of the fact I’m interested in women’s advocacy and the not for profit work–I thought maybe this would be a negative aspect of my CV but it didn’t turn out that way at all, in fact, it was the opposite.

It was in my CV as an interest and I did think perhaps it might turn people off but I remember the TBWA talent scout telling me about their company ambition to have a “fifty fifty gender split by 2020”, so you know it pays to show that you’re interested in stuff outside of advertising.

2. Be interested in the world around you

It’s not like a regular corporate job, they want you to be able to connect with the world around you and you’ve got to be a thinker.

TCC: What are your stand out moments from being involved in the program?

PN: The community you gain from the program, it’s really nice going through the experience with a group of people who are new to the industry and experiencing the same things with you.  We had a Facebook group and would choose the events we were going to go to together and even did a Christmas in July event together afterward too.

TCC: Have you got a strong plan of how you’d like to progress?
PN: I think it totally depends on your ‘progress’ to be honest.  I’m already in discussion about the next steps for me. I had completed an undergrad and masters degree and worked in a lot of different types of businesses before this and so I understand a lot of things like the finance elements, I already had experience in, and I also wanted to start from the very bottom because I think that gives you a good foundation to build from.

It also depends on your trajectory.  If you’re up front about what you want from your career people respect that, certainly don’t be demanding but be up front about what your career desires are.
I was clear in saying that I want personal KPIs to meet and I have had a 3 and 6 month review, and I actively remind my managers that these were coming up.

TCC: How has having two parents who work within advertising affected your career choice?
PN: I grew up watching all my parents ads on VHS – so I’ve watched a lot of ads and without realising it I guess in a way I grew up knowing a lot of the terminology and well my parents are both creatives, so I often get asked: why are you an accounts person and not a creative?  

I guess the answer is that I like building relationships, it seems like a good fit for me.