This week, we caught up with Amy Kean, here is what she said:
I realised very early on in my career that no one just falls into their dream job. Education is expensive, you (normally) only get one shot at it and it sets you up for the rest of your life. You need to use your education to make sure you have the best possible chance to land that dream job. I made the decision to work in advertising when I first started Palmer’s College almost twenty years ago and since then I have never stopped studying people, creativity and different cultures. My three A-Levels were Sociology, English Literature and French, plus I did courses in Journalism and Media on the side, and I think this was the best combination for me to work in a creative industry.
When I left Palmer’s College I went to the University of Bath where I obtained a BSc in Sociology and Psychology. After university I worked in higher education for a while. This saw me working in policy for the Higher Education Funding Council for England, but after a while I realised that I craved far more commercial pursuits so I moved to a company in London called the Internet Advertising Bureau – the trade body for digital advertising. This organisation sits at the heart of the industry surrounded by the likes of Facebook and Google, making sure online businesses act responsibly and make money. I then moved to an advertising agency group called Havas where I was made Head of Innovation. This involved completely obsessing over new technology like virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence, and working out how we could use them in our advertising campaigns for the likes of Nando’s, Sony, the BBC, Magners, Kia, Domino’s Pizza, and many more.
After this I moved to Asia where I was APAC (Asia Pacific) Head of Strategy for a big agency called Mindshare. This was the most challenging role I’ve held to date. Not only did I work for some of the world’s biggest brands like Unilever, Nike and Pepsi but I did it across every Asian market. I also travelled regularly to two countries every week, from Vietnam to the Philippines, Tokyo to South Korea. It was the most amazing experience – learning what makes people tick in different cultures and creating award-winning advertising campaigns over the other side of the world. I also found it totally weird how everyone speaks English, big meetings are generally conducted in English, and I regret not learning a language like Mandarin or Vietnamese to even out the balance.
At the moment I obsess not over technology, but over lipstick as I’m now Vice President of Strategy and Planning for a company called Beamly. We’re what’s known as an ‘in-house agency’ and we sit within the big beauty powerhouse Coty. Coty owns loads of big beauty brands worldwide: Rimmel, Cover Girl, Max Factor, Bourjois, Wella, Sally Hansen and big fragrances like Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein. I work out how we advertise to people on behalf of those brands – when, to who, what we say, and so on. It involves a lot of research, a good understanding of data and technology, and a bit (a lot!) of imagination. Plus, the hours are quite long: lots of late nights and weekends, but it’s worth it! Because my job is international it also involves travel to different continents, which is lovely as long as you force yourself to leave the hotel after a long day in the office and I’ve also had to get used to sight-seeing on my own!
More importantly my job is to find out what makes women feel confident and how can Coty stand out amongst all those other big beauty brands? Every week we’re pushing new content across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, working with influential people in the beauty industry and even creating Snapchat filters that give you the perfect look. As part of my job I have to be up to date with the latest trends, too. So, if you’re interested, the beauty looks for summer 2017 are white nails, glitter freckles, green lipstick and grey balayage! Although maybe don’t try all of those at once!
I think it’s hugely important to do extra-curricular stuff outside of work, too. A couple of years ago I was a lecturer at the University of Bournemouth leading their media strategy course, and I work for a charity called Writing Through that helps give women and children across Asia confidence through conceptual thought: creative writing and poetry – I’ve done this in Singapore and Cambodia. I always make time doing things outside my little advertising bubble, and also write a blog – www.shitsandgigs.com in case you fancy reading my opinions on the new Katy Perry album or the Wonder Woman movie! (Unashamedly trying to boost my numbers, there!)
If you want to get into advertising or creativity, you have to be relentless. Read, write, comment, network, self-promote, invent. The best people in advertising never stop trying to get better and they never get complacent, and this is normally a quality established at a young age. So if I was going to give any advice on how to be successful after your education, it would be to never assume you know enough or that you’ve finished training – try and learn something new every day!