whiteGREY’s Chief Strategy Officer Simon Wassef is facilitating Advanced Strategic Planning in 2023. In his 20+ years in the industry, he has driven marketing and innovation strategy for respected agencies such as R/GA and Chiat/Day, and iconic brands including Beats By Dre, adidas, Absolut and Nike. In this short Q&A, he gives his thoughts on opportunities that exist for strategists today, and why Advanced Strategic Planning is a must, even for senior staff.
Why do this course?
Advanced Strategic Planning is about levelling up as a strategist, no matter how senior you are or how long you’ve been in the game. There’s always more you can learn and master.
It’s also about how you want to shape and develop strategy, or how you want to sharpen your skills and become a leader in areas like experience strategy or behavioural economics, for example. Strategy is a broader discipline than ever and the advanced course is about finding out what kind of strategist you want to be.
Is Advanced Strategic Planning just for strategists? Or agency professionals more broadly who want to better understand strategy?
This course is suitable for experienced strategists, account directors, senior account directors, group account directors, researchers, and marketing and brand managers…anyone whose job it is to solve business problems through the power of creativity and innovation.
Strategy doesn’t only belong to strategists, just as creativity doesn’t belong to the creative department, and managing client business doesn’t only belong to those in account management. If you’re in this business then you’re invested in the strategy, creative and innovation that builds brands and businesses, regardless of your title.
What are the opportunities for strategists these days?
It’s a hard world out there right now. You look out your window and you see the climate crisis, gender inequity, disinformation, war, budgets being cut, cost of living going through the roof. Challenges like these are not moments to play it safe, they are moments to be brave, unexpected and innovative because the businesses that move with real purpose are going to grow and the ones that don’t will be left behind.
To people doing strategy I say: take that opportunity. It’s these moments that the chance to make something great really reveals itself.
What skills do you expect students to have coming into this course?
There’s no specific skillset. I’m more looking for the awareness to ask ‘what’s going on here?’ and the urgency to put forward ideas on how to solve problems. I look for ambition and a hunger to go ‘Yeah, I want to get good at this.’
And what about the skills you come out with?
You’ll come away with the confidence to talk about and solve problems, and to deploy more techniques to solve that problem than maybe you’ve considered before. It’s not all about one method over another. When you have different tools in your toolkit, you can really innovate your problem-solving process.
And maybe some good stories from my umpteen years in this crazy business.
Anything new to the course this year?
We’re adding an effectiveness module that will look at what to measure, how to measure and why, based on past Effie Award-winning entries. Lecturers include some of the best strategists in the business including BMF Australia Chief Strategy Officer Christina Aventi and Destination NSW Associate Director, Marketing Insights and Performance Jennifer Rhodes (formerly BMF Australia’s Head of Effectiveness & Data Strategy).
I may even blow the dust off my Grand Effie winning ‘Pinkie’ case from a few years ago…stay tuned.
AdSchool Advanced Strategic Planning starts 28 September in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and online. Course details and registration here.