5 minutes with… Jo Hanson, Senior Account Director at Principals
Ahead of our Auckland DA Workshop: Writing and Presenting for Designers we caught up with Jo Hanson senior account director at Principals, who has created a unique hybrid role for herself which is anything but S.A.D. (which she’ll tell you is the worst job title acronym ever). Part project manager. Part copywriter. Part production manager. Part new business rep. Part client service manager. Part studio manager. Part creative strategist — you could say Jo knows a few things about getting the most out of a design brief.
Did you always know creative services was for you?
When I was 15 I was summoned to the school career councillor’s office. I got as far as the door and stopped when I saw the awful motivational posters plastered on the walls. Outside was an ancient PC where you could input your best subjects and see potential careers. Economics + Art + English = Advertising. Saatchis was the biggest agency brand name at the time. I decided on the spot I’d work there when I grew up. In 2007 I did (work there that is, the growing up bit is still a work in progress). I couldn’t be happier to have found my place in creative services and I never wonder what could have happened if I’d made that appointment.
What was your boldest career move to-date?
I graduated from Massey University with honours in advertising copywriting. A few years later I swapped to project management. Changing from being ‘the creative’ to being part of a creative team could have been really tough, but I’ve been lucky that the teams I’ve stuck with see me as the creative person that I am (even if I do wear a killer suit every now and again).
Where are you based and who is in your team?
I’m based in Principals’ Auckland office along with 15 super creative people and at least 1 dog. We work across insights, brand strategy, identity design, and experience projects. We’re the youngest and smallest of our 3 offices (there’s 80 people across Auckland, Sydney and Melbourne) and with that comes an awesome team culture and an energy to prove ourselves.
What does a typical day look like and what do you enjoy the most?
My diary would scare some people. It’s a non-stop juggle and it’s very fast paced. Let’s just say I’m never bored. That leads nicely into what I enjoy the most, which is diversity. I love learning about new industries and business models (remember that high score in economics?). I love winning and I love seeing results for customers who are doing good work.
What are you working on right now?
Top secret brand strategy stuff.
What are you afraid of?
Being asked to drive a PC when I go to present at a client’s office. I’ve been in some super tech places that look like you’ve arrived on the set of the Bourne Identity. I’m not afraid of a boardroom or a board, but turning a client’s VC system on is the stuff of nightmares. Oh, I also hate signage projects. I think I have a curse.
Do you have any advice for account managers coming up the ranks?
Oh my goodness. So much. Seriously hit me up some time, I’d be so happy to share some hard-earned learnings. Actually, come to the workshop, there’s heaps of tips in there.
So what can participants expect from your “ Writing and Presenting for Designers” workshop?
Tricks and tools for gauging and tailoring your approach for different client styles — including models for A+ design briefs and presentations, so that clients say things at the end of projects like ‘on budget, on time and on brief’ and process those invoices
Who is the workshop for? Anybody who wants to learn more about how to get the most out of a client — and deliver the most when presenting back. You’ll likely take the most away from this course if you’re new to, or interested in, learning more about client service.