Marketing & Advertising Panel #1 18/19

Welcome! This post is one for the archives. If you missed our first Marketing & Advertising Panel and you are interested in a career that fits within these creative industries, this will hopefully be informative. 


We had the pleasure of hosting speakers from market leading media agencies; our first was Mara Dettman – an Editor at BBH London. Mara graduated from the LSE eleven years ago having studied International Relations. Prior to joining BBH, Mara had worked in business development as a project manager and account managed at an agency that worked on the London Olympic Games. Taking a year out and moving to Paris to freelance, she realised she actually enjoyed working in an office and relocated to the UK, where she joined BBH. 

In her capacity as an Editor at BBH, Mara manages the editorial team, small consulting projects and user experience analysis. She frequently works on creative campaigns with a social focus – How KFC trolled the clean-eating trend…’ for its Dirty Louisiana burger campaign, being an example. 

Our second speaker was Shams Manzur from DF London @ Engine. She explained the importance of coming up with new and innovative ideas for those working in the ever-changing creative industry. Her unorthodox start as a medical student proved to her that you really can study anything and go into advertising. Following a few bumps in road and a couple changes in direction, Shams spent some time in her native Pakistan, where she cracked her first ad. Having gone on to work with local brands, Shell and Unilever, Shams realised how important it was to maintain a sense of purpose in what she did. 

An opportunity soon arose, which allowed Shams not only to get in touch with her roots but as a woman in Pakistan, effect real change. “Even before Malala Yousafzai, education was a huge issue in Pakistan”, Shams explained. A project was being developed and it was intended to try and tackle the lack of accessible education. Shams drafted a script inspired by Stanley Kubrick, which focussed on the idea of being blindfolded. Though the campaign was banned in the mainstream Pakistani media, it went viral online in Pakistan, neighbouring India and even reached American sites like Buzzfeed – which as Shams explained, “was a big deal!”

Shams has continued in the creative industry, working with companies like Virgin, Sky and Spotify. Her journey has also seen her work for MI5 and MI6 on counter-terrorism campaigns, and the UN on the ‘Humanity Lost’ project. 


Our penultimate speaker, Lydia Sammout Kanellopoulou currently studies at the LSE and is completing her Master’s degree in Social and Public Communication. She also works in the Corporate Communications/ PR department at Ogilvy UK. Lydia always knew she wanted to do something creative while simultaneously delivering important messages to a wider audience – “working in the advertising sector was the best way to do this.” Having completed several internships, her deeper insight into how the industry worked enabled her to more confidently decide exactly what she thought wanted to do. 

Lydia has worked at M&C Saatchi in the Consumer department, predominantly for sports and beauty clients. This was valuable experience, but essentially “we were communicating a simple message to the public – ‘buy a product’, which was not very fulfilling.” It was when she moved (in the open-plan office) to sit near the Corporate Communications team that she saw the kind of work she knew would provide the balance between creativity and positive influence – working with NGOs for example.  


Last but not least, Malique Broome from The7Stars Media agency joined us. Malique was a unique guest in that she was able to share a little bit about her experience as a placement student at The7Stars and how she subsequently joined the London team as an employee. 

Originally, Malique was adamant she’d be a dancer – having attended the Brit school for two years, she had submitted her applications to train professionally at Dance School. Similarly to Shams, Malique had a change of heart and completed a few internships at companies from a range of different industries. Though, it was after studying Marketing at Surrey and abroad in Florida, that she realised she could really enjoy a career in this industry. She had always wanted to work with people in an environment that would allow personal, creative and intellectual growth. It was in her capacity as a placement student at The7Stars Agency in 2016 that Malique was able to understand the power of building networks and the importance of being open to learning new skills. “You really need to have a student mindset and be prepared to learn!” The placement was an enriching experience and heavily influenced her decision to return after graduating this July. 

Malique works primarily on ensuring advertisements reach their intended audiences, largely in the entertainment sector. She explained how this role has highlighted the importance of diversity in the work place because “an advertising agency must, to some extent, be able to relate to the audience it is trying to pitch ideas to”; and that the advertising industry is constantly changing, so an open and adaptive mindset is 110% necessary. 


How do you assert yourself in the workplace as a young woman?

Malique – “For the duration of my placement year, my immediate team were all boys so I had to realise my worth and value. You need to realise that every experience you’ve had brings value to the company – you learn a lot from your team but they can also learn from you.”

Shams – “Advertising is not about being talented, it’s about working smart. Realise that advertising is largely about psychology/consumer behaviour. So use what you know as a young woman.” 

Lydia – “Know your worth and other people will respect you. Understand that while you’re junior, you’re smart, you work hard and deserve to be where you are.”

What made your applications successful?

Lydia – “You need to know how to sell yourself in an interview. Be confident –  know your worth and communicate that to the interviewers. Practice as much as you can – your first time will almost definitely be a disaster! As you practise you will find a way you can sell yourself convincingly and precisely.” 

When Lydia got an interview at Oligvy, she had completed a uni assignment that was relevant to the company’s values and objectives. She stressed that even though she didn’t have much experience, she was able to give them proof that they should hire her.

Malique – “Personalise/ tailor your CV and cover letter to the company you are applying for! For example, include campaigns the company had worked on that you were interested in. Before your interview look at their social media as well. Know what the company stands for, their business objectives and goals. Also, make sure you take the opportunity to ask a question in the interview – it shows that you are interested, an example: ‘if I’m working here as a grad, what does my day look like?’ Finally, make sure that you are polite to everyone, even the receptionist and security guards - if you aren’t chances are, others in the building will hear about it!”

Shams – “Make sure you have a portfolio to show them!”


Keep being passionate and stay true to yourself. If you want to do this work, do it for the right reasons because it takes a lot out of you

Seek out internship opportunities, even if only for a week!

In this industry you need more work experience than academics because it’s so fast-paced and they don’t have the time to teach people from scratch - even having a blog would help!

Use your existing network and grow it organically, even if you just chat to people about their job over coffee

When you’re on a placement just speak to as many people as possible because you never know who can vouch for you in the future

We really hope that helped anyone interested in a career in Marketing / Advertising!

Alt Careers Soc ☺️

Leadership in the Public Sector: Summary

TEACH FIRST: Francis Kearns

How to get there?

  • No straightforward or ‘typical’ path. Can join after graduation, or later.

  • This speaker took the road less travelled: started out studying history, then worked as a Trainee studio engineer.

What it’s like?

  • They let you pick your sector (primary/secondary school), and on that basis allocate you to a school.
  • A rewarding experience; you meet great people & build up relations with the kids at the school. The grateful response from parents & the eureka moments for kids who were previously struggling, are amazing highs.
  • A challenging context; usually a failing school placed under extra scrutiny. The work can be stressful & genuine patience is needed when dealing with kids.
  • A time of personal discovery; you discover things like your resiliency or ability to handle a lot more than you think.
  • When learning to be a teacher, you are observed quite a lot & given feedback on what you do well & don’t. You learn to interpret feedback constructively and to take it in your stride.

Required skill-set?

  • A mix of professional & personal skills: good time management & prioritisation.
  • Leadership Development Officer: offer support.

THINK AHEAD: James Wakefield and Ivan Wise

What is Think Ahead?

  • a social work organisation, under the umbrella group ‘The Challenge’.

  • working with people completely without support.

Is it for me?

  • If you care about more than a lucrative salary or making deals – the essence of social work is about making an impact, and engaging with finding your job on a human, emotional level.
  • This is a job that directly impacts other people for the better, and supports their needs. That makes it especially satisfying.
  • You deal with something, and someone, different every day. Each case you receive is unique, and allows you to meet very diverse, interesting people. Basically, you never stop learning!
  • Social work bears huge importance in today’s society. Increasing inequalities, the mental health gap, austerity and suicide rates: these all point to the mental distress that exists throughout society.

A Day in the Life…

  • A recent case study dealt with a Kurdish man who had ongoing issues getting access to his kids. When in court, he didn’t have a solicitor or interpreter, so he never got a truly fair trial. This became the main precipitating factor for his mental health issues. The social worker helped him work through these issues, taking the time to talk to him, securing therapy sessions and organizing volunteer legal aid for his appeal.
  • Another related to building a mother up for a school-parent meeting, for which she did not feel ready or confident. The social worker provided the motivation and emotional support that she needed to feel in control of the situation. At the meeting, she was able to air her grievances to the school, and was finally heard.

FRONTLINE: Layla Doyle

Why Frontline?

  • For Layla, the trigger was her early involvement in social justice protests at the LSE; she understood the place of social work in creating a just society.

  • As a well regarded and respectable organization, Frontline was a very worthy entry point into social work.
  • What is the nature of its work?
  • Aims for direct, visible change: micro-change over macro, typically. Focusing on on-the-ground impacts.
  • A very eclectic profession: cases might look at mental health, domestic violence, or substance misuse. You might work in a charity, in a private organisation, with children, or with adults.
  • These cases come from external agencies e.g. schools or police or ambulance. Frontline is then in charge of coming up with a clear plan of action from all these diverse strands.

What’s it like working there?

  • New employees experience an assessed & supported year in social work; given some protection e.g. a limited caseload.
  • The barriers of stress and time commitment do still apply.
  • There is room for giving your preference, but you don’t get a definitive say on where you are placed.

Required skill-set?

  • Self-reflection & self-awareness skills.
  • The will to have hard conversations with people.
  • The ability to think carefully about how you talk, about how others perceive you, and about the power you evince.
  • The desire to be challenged: as a social worker, you are being allowed into people’s lives, and working with society’s most vulnerable.

In Defense of Quitting

Many of us have fallen into the trap of thinking that quitting is, broadly, a bad thing. Yet I think that association is neither true, nor helpful.

The idea that ‘quitting’ is the equivalent of admitting defeat, or showing weakness, is downright wrong. Quitting really shouldn’t be treated as a taboo, or avoided at all costs. Instead, I’d argue it should be implemented tactfully, in ways and at times that service you.

So - and here’s the tricky part - how are we supposed to know when to quit? In any activity/profession you choose to pursue, the going can get tough. With enough grit and practice, though, the rewards can also be great. But if you’re ‘browsing’, surfing the wave of mediocrity, or only in it half-heartedly, it’s worth rethinking your decision to push on. Asking yourself frankly if this, the stagnation you’re experiencing, is just a temporary phase, or whether a literal dead end, might be the biggest favour you could do yourself.

Seth Godin frames these thoughts as a single question: "is this something that will respond to guts, effort and investment?”*. Your answer to that question helps you understand whether you can, and should, be committing to this particular thing.

This is not to say that you should drop everything in which you haven’t reached expert status. Some things are no more, no less, than a hobby - take singing, or reading, for example -, on which the concept of ‘success’ has no bearing. Personal passions that are taken on and continued for their own sake, definitely have a place in our lives.

The Quit-When-It’s-Wise principle, then, only really applies to pursuits that you take more seriously - i.e. commitments from which you expect a clear output, achievement or reward. The truth is, success in some things relies disproportionately on factors outside our control: luck, being at the right place and right time, starting earlier than we could have or actually did. It is in these cases that carrying on becomes costly, and ultimately pointless. Quitting, in such a situation, is both wise and desirable.

I say we start to view quitting more favourably, as a smart, viable option rather than a hated last-resort.


* (Seth Godin’s The Dip, a book I’d genuinely recommend, explains the concept of strategic quitting in full.)

Death by overstretch

New opportunities don't carry obligations to take them up. The euphoria, and pushy marketing, that surrounds the opening of a new committee role, a new time commitment, or a new venture, is prone to clouding our better judgement. We can take on more than is reasonable or doable. We can fall into the trap of biting off more than we can chew.

I realise that this is a common mistake, because I've seen myself, and most of my friends, do it. What I'd encourage, and what I'm slowly starting to see as a life motto, is prioritising quality over quantity. If you can't do a job or fulfil a role properly, its worth and utility to you/others is clearly limited. If anything, it might bring little meaning and lots of stress to your life. If CV-building is the sole reason why you jumped on that bandwagon, it will probably show - think about the likelihood of that impression trickling through in an interview situation. In general, if the motivation, and/or ability to follow through with your promised contribution, are missing, have a rethink: maybe you could use your time in more enriching, or productive, ways.

I say 'enriching' because I think there's wisdom in self care, in taking the time to check in on yourself. To breathe, in short. Your commitment to other pursuits stands to gain a lot. When they become part of the diversity, rather than monotony, in your life, when you get to invest more time, effort and care into them; it's at that point that you can make the most of a real work-life balance. When Thomas Friedman tells us to 'thank [others] for being late', I think he's onto something. There are benefits to pausing, taking a break. Making time for oneself, a slice of time that we can call our own, and dedicate strictly to ourselves and our needs, is a small luxury we’d do well to grant ourselves.

Knowing how quit early, or to cut out a commitment-too-many, is a skill in itself – it really is worth practicing principles like ‘quitting while you’re ahead’ sometimes. Employers tend to valorise a focused/thorough commitment to a few things over and above a superficial/half-hearted handling of many. Projecting forward in 10 years' time, too, you’ll only remember and take genuine pride in the things you did seriously.

Death by overstretch is a fate we can all avoid – the good news is, it’s not inevitable. In the meantime, there are lots of things you can do and/or reflect on to work out whether the commitments you’ve set up for yourself are compatible with your wellbeing and peace of mind overall.

On being a better self-advocate

It's a hard-to-swallow, uncomfortable truth, that you can be a barrier to your own success. I think it's worth caring, or at least asking, about why this is, and where it applies.

There's a clear difference between healthy self-criticism and defeatism. Developing a fairer, more open-minded idea of yourself is important in lots of ways. But particularly in career terms, it would reframe what you might see as impossible dreams, into genuine opportunities or challenges. It may be hard to perceive, but you are more than your current skill set; your potential, your growth trajectory, your capacity to learn and adapt are as valuable as the aspects that presently define you. There are many ways in which we underestimate, and undervalue ourselves. Your self image deserves to be expanded.

I think Antonio Lucio is half right when he says that self-advocacy is 'the ability to say what you need, want and hope for in life'*. But what he misses is that most of the work comes in figuring out what we actually want, admitting it to ourselves, and voicing it to the right people, when it matters. We witness good self advocacy in people who ask for promotions or raises, for instance. Or in those who will claim credit when and where it is owed to them. Or, even, in those who see an internship/job listing they like but aren't a perfect fit for, and still go ahead and apply. In many cases, no applicant will be a 100% match with the 'desired profile'. That's why it's worth giving the application a shot, and, while recognising your shortcomings, showing how these can be improved or compensated for through your other skills/qualities. Every single one of us is a work in progress, there aren't any finished products out there: an attitude like that one, then, will go a long way.

The truth is, many of us fall into that catch-all category of 'insecure overachievers'**. We experience a mismatch between the person we are asked to display, and the person we think we are. But the onus on each of us to move past our spikes in self doubt, becomes key. The ever-changing way in which we see or feel about ourselves should remain divorced from the way we project ourselves professionally. Establishing that separation is both healthy and important in the competitive world of application-writing. Whether through CVs, cover letters or interviews, the well packaged exterior that you present should not reduce or define you, nor act as a judgement of your personal value. At the end of the day, your professional persona is just that - a mere persona, tool, or display, rather than an indicator of self worth. That's a huge part of what it means to be a better self advocate; your innate value does not, and should not, enter the picture.

These are psychological traps that affect us all, and that is precisely why they matter. In moments where self advocacy is needed, be it out of hope, ambition, or frustration, it might be helpful to imagine yourself, and your context-specific persona, as being in 2 distinct spheres. However bruised the latter might be, the former should remain intact.


Alternative Careers Conference: Summary

This is our final summary and last blog post in the Alternative Careers Conference series! For more information about each panel, check out our previous posts specific to each event.

The 2017 Alternative Careers Conference took place on Saturday, February 25th and was host to some incredible speakers from 4 different career panels, in addition to, for the first time ever, a skills session by Olivia Fields from the Red Cross on campaigning!


The first panel to kick off the day was Civil Service where we had Robert Deane (Head of Knowledge at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office), Stuart Austin (Correspondence Manager at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office) and Joel Rosen (Department for Brexit). Robert Deane shared with the audience some important aspects of his job and working at the Foreign & Commonwealth office, where he emphasised the environment of inclusivity within the Civil Service, stating that they are not droids to be bossed around by ministers, but people with “views, emotions and stresses”. Mr. Deane emphasised that working within the Civil Service is not all about sitting behind a desk, he has traveled around the world with his job and has seen some amazing places.


The next speaker was Stuart Austin, who despite only having worked within the Civil Service for a few months has already learned much about himself and the role that he fulfils. Stuart writes the correspondence with angry or happy citizens that are sent in reply within the department for Brexit. The letters that arrive on his desk have ranged from raging “we need a harder, faster Brexit” to scared “what’s going to happen to me and my family”. In this role Stuart has had to practice keeping neutral and pushing the government line. Stuart said that he loves his job. Emphasising to LSE students that you don’t need to be a banker to have a good life, even quipping to an imaginary LSE student, “you go be a banker, I want to enjoy my life”.  His emphasis of being patient and finding the career that fit your skills and interests is one that hit home with the present students.


The final speaker of the night was Joel Rosen, another employee at the department for Brexit.  Joel began his career in the Swiss Army, and it was here that he realised that money wasn’t his driving motivation, affecting the lives of others for positive change was. After leaving the army he found that the way he could do this on the wildest scale, to have a positive influence on people’s lives, was through government and the Civil Service. Much of Joel’s job was designing the ways in which Britain would extract itself from Europe once Article 50 is triggered. Much of his recent work was confidential, however the few details he did give were exciting – from meeting with MPs to designing strategies. Joel inspired us to think about what it is that motivates us, and said that this is what should be looked for when finding ourselves a career. If you’re motivated by money, follow the standard LSE career path, but if not, find what you are motivated by, and pursue that.


After the closing remarks from the Civil Service panel, we welcomed Olivia Field, a Policy and Advocacy Manager for the British Red Cross for a skills session. Ms Fields studied Philosophy and French at the University of Bristol and is currently studying for a Masters in Global Migration at UCL. Her skills session focused on lobbying, media, public mobilisation, allies and research. She spoke about the effective use of media in her work, and how despite sometimes having detrimental consequences it often has proved to be very useful and has led to government action. For example, she referred to the picture of the dead child on the beach publicised in the media and how the public’s reaction to this picture promoted media support and led to Cameron allowing 10,000 refugees into the UK. Olivia also spoke about her work for the Red Cross and how she has progressed from completing an internship there 5 years ago focusing on stateless asylum seekers to now being a manager. She spoke about the difficultly in ‘jumping straight into a job’ in the NGO sector and that you need experience. She loves her job however, she described how it can be exhausting getting people to support your campaigns and it is often hard to understand why people do not want to implement what you are calling for. Her main ambition is to alleviate suffering but by speaking out as a charity they do not want to prevent themselves from doing this in the most effective way.


After a short break, the conference continued with the International Organisations Panel where we welcomed Anahide Pilibossian and Graziella Piga. Anahide Pilibossian began by speaking of her job at Blackrock and described her involvement with international organizations, specifying that she engaged with them on issues of financial regulation. There exists a gap in policymakers’ thinking in that they frequently fail to consider the average saver; her role, then, is to remedy this gap. Her work also extends, she related, to relations between shareholders and listed companies. Anahide also passed on advice on promotions, how best to obtain them – just ask! –, and why, should such efforts fall short, being disheartened misses the point: she highlighted that promotions are often the product of great luck, being in the right place at the right time, and being liked by the right people. In her case, she was fortunate enough to get on well with her boss and thus to be recommended by them when a higher-ranking position opened up. She also suggested that there are clear upsides to working at a large corporation instead of a small firm: Blackrock, for instance, is a multi-national, multi-cultural working environment, with significant resources to spend on its employees. Small businesses, by contrast, would struggle financially to invest as much on its human resources.


We then welcomed Graziella Piga who has worked at the UNHCR’s protection unit, set up for protecting female refugees and countering gender trafficking. Her job oversaw the fascinating link between policy and practice. Moving to Macedonia, she worked with OCS on women’s security, where she led a big push for reform of the Police Department. Graziella probed prevailing views on how to improve women’s security. Solely helping women while ignoring men did not make for a lasting solution, she pointed out; for that to be true, men had to be involved in some capacity too, such that they might have an understanding of and real stake in the issue. Graziella noted the increasing centrality of languages in international organisations. Knowing Russian, for instance, opened up lots of options for Graziella while she worked for UNHCR in Tajikistan. By speaking Russian, she was able to reach out to and build useful links with the Interior Ministry, where previous mission leaders had not thought, or been ill-equipped, to do so.


After this panel, we had a lunch break where Pret sandwiches and other nibbles were served. Participants at the conference had the opportunity to network with all panelists, ask them questions, connect on LinkedIn and ask any questions which they might have.


The next panel to continue the day was the Energy panel where we welcomed Germana Canzi and Gearoid Lane. Germana Canzi is a freelance journalist specializing in sustainable energy and Gearoid Lane is the CEO and founder of AgilityEco, a company specialising in insulation and clean energy. It was a general consensus between both the speakers that the future of this industry is relatively unknown. There are still so many developments needed to make energy more sustainable especially in the storage of energy. The challenges in the future lie in storing energy from renewable sources in order to deal with fluctuating demands for energy throughout the day. Current trends seen as a move towards the digitalisation of the industry, evidence in the emergence of smart meters which allows consumers to use less energy and therefore save money. In addition, our speakers suggested that whilst there are efforts by the government to promote sustainability and the use of more renewable energy, there is much more work to be done. Whilst there is progress (such as the recent bill preventing landlords from renting out an F or G rated property) compared to countries such as Germany, there is still room for improvement in this area. Both speakers emphasised the random nature of their career progression and therefore asserted the need to be optimistic and flexible when considering a career in this industry. Business skills are vital when working in the energy sector and therefore Canzi stressed the importance of working in mainstream jobs first to gain a sense of how businesses work as well as being able to be less idealistic about renewable energy. Lane also suggested that working in a smaller company can be a good way to experience how businesses in this sector work before entering larger corporations. From working in a small business you can see how all the different roles function and often with a lot less bureaucracy. The energy sector may also be a daunting sector for an LSE graduate due to the amount of technical knowledge needed that is not taught on our degree programs.


The last panel discussion of conference was the New Media panel where we had Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, Fiona Curry and Ronke Kokoruwe. One of the biggest takeaways from this panel was F.A.I.L. As Shola said, F.A.I.L = First Attempt In Learning. The journey to becoming an academic, lawyer, and mother, has not been easy for Shola. She spoke of how she failed the New York Bar (a notoriously difficult exam) three times, juggling an MBA, full time job, and three children, simultaneously, but her determination eventually led her to achieve this qualification. Failure doesn’t mean you’re not good enough, you just need to take a step back, reassess, and go again. The only perception of failure that is important is yours. In addition, Ronke stressed the importance of needing to surround yourself with inspirational people. Ronke uses Skype to mentor young adults in developing countries. These young adults are devoted to improving their countries from within, and she is constantly inspired by the work they do. Similarly, Fiona described the environment of the tech industry, and the smart and ambitious individuals it attracts. This encourages you to become more competitive and constantly challenging you to push your progress


All in all, the 2017 Alternative Careers Conference was a massive success! With a room full of participants interested in alternative careers, and extremely interesting panelists, we hope that everyone got inspired, learnt a lot and had a great day – the committee certainly did!