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5 things you should know before getting a job in planning and strategy

4 min, 19 sec read
13:15 PM | 6 November 2014
by Arthur Gueidan
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We've been speaking to some of the best planners in the world to ask them one question, "What is the one thing you should know before getting a job as a planner?" Here's what they said.

Jon Steel

"I've met a lot of planners who think it's their job to be the most intelligent person in the room. Well, I'd take useful over intelligent any day."

"It's not brain surgery.

I've met a lot of planners who think it's their job to be the most intelligent person in the room. Well, I'd take useful over intelligent any day.

If you're going to be useful as a planner, then you need people to want to talk to you. And they are not going to talk to you if they think you're an intellectual snob.

Stanley Pollitt once said that getting the advertising right is more important then being right.

So yes, good planning requires intelligence. But it also requires common sense. And humility.

In a world filled with complicators, good planners are simplifiers.

When they knock on someone's door, the person behind the door is happy to see them. Because they know that the planner will help in some way.

Bad planners wallow in the brilliance of their analysis and ideas; good planners derive their pleasure from the end result.

So maybe it is brain surgery. After all, good brain surgeons don't judge their success by the artistry of their technique. What counts is survival rates and quality of life.

Just like ideas."

Jon Steel is Group Planning Director at WPP, Chief Strategy Officer and Vice Chairman of George Patterson Y&R (previously Goodby Silverstein and Partners, Boase Massimi Pollitt).

Agathe Guerrier

"...the best strategists apply creativity to their craft. They open up, they transform..."

"When thinking about agency roles, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that creatives are in charge of imagination, and planners in charge of rational thinking. But the best strategists apply creativity to their craft. They open up, they transform - strategy is not just about being right, it's also about finding difference and making the leap."

Agathe Guerrier is Head of Strategy at BBH London and Head of BBH Labs (previously Mother, BETC).

Gareth Kay

"Your value - to business, creative people and the world at large - comes from having a different and more interesting perspective."

"Be interested in the world around you. Not just the bubble you live in but the broader world. What do real people really think? Why do some things matter and some things not? Why do ideas spread? Cram you mind with as much non marketing and advertising stuff as you can. You'll get to fresher and more useful and valuable thinking that way. As a result of being interested you'll be more interesting. You'll have more diverse stimuli to draw on. More chance for new connections emerge.

There's lots of bright people in this industry. We don't need one more who can get to the same thought as everyone else. Your value - to business, creative people and the world at large - comes from having a different and more interesting perspective. Never forget we are in a business that is about the conviction behind a point of view. And never forget the best points of view tend to be the ones that are the most interesting."

Gareth Kay is Founding Partner of Zeus Jones (previously Brandcenter, Goodby Silverstein and Partners, Modernista!, Lowe, TBWA).

Rory Sutherland

"Post-rationalisation isn't a crime – it's your job description."

Rory Sutherland is Vice Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather UK (previously IPA President).

Rob Campbell

"Look for someone who challenges you and demands the best of you. Look for someone who walks the talk rather than just spouts the hype."

"There is a bunch of advice that would be useful to someone wanting to get a job as a planner in an agency and even though I am a firm believer that the best advice of all is to not listen to anyone’s advice, I would say you should try and choose your job based on who your boss would be rather than the name of the agency. 

Look for someone who has consistently been part of really great work. Look for someone who others respect. Look for someone who has helped his colleagues go on to do good work and get bigger, interesting jobs. Look for someone who is smart but approachable. Look for someone who challenges you and demands the best of you. Look for someone who walks the talk rather than just spouts the hype. 

And then keep an open mind, work your ass off and always try and be a bit better than what you did before."

Rob Campbell is Head of Planning at Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai and the man behind The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod (previously HHCL, Cynic, Y&R Asia, Google, Sunshine).



For more strategic advice from professional planners, take a look at our answers area.


Or check out 5 things you should know before getting a job as a creative in advertising for advice from creative legends Dave Trott, Rosie Arnold, Simon Veksner, Vicki Maguire and Dave Buonaguidi.

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