Reading a lot, setting up career goals, chasing the unexpected – this and more does Amelia Stevens to keep herself motivated on a daily basis.
By her own admittance, Amelia believes she never really had a calling for what she wanted to do. All she knew was that she would have to be involved with people, inspiring them and learning more about them. That's how she started studying psychology. That's how she got into advertising.
Today we are Getting to Know a talented media director from Golley Slater, learning more about her ambitions, hopes for her future and aspirations for the entire industry.
Tell us a bit about your role! What is one typical day like?
Currently, my typical day looks a lot less glamorous than it would have if I was in the office (but I’m sure that’s the same for everyone now!). It starts about 8am with the flurry of Teams messages from the media lot, saying hi, discussing the latest Netflix docu series etc. We’ve found continuing that pre-work chat helps maintain a bit of normality. Come 9am, I call my co-director to talk about the priorities for the day and the rest of the week. This could include organising resource for an urgent pitch, or discussing the latest news within our sector and the impact it could have for our clients’ campaigns. By mid-morning (and followed by at least three cups of tea) I could be meeting with finance, checking in with various team members, speaking to a supplier, on a client meeting or on a pitch. My day is always varied and unique – it’s what I love about media agency life.
What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?
The biggest challenge that I have experienced in getting to where I am now, is undoubtably that little voice inside my head that says, for whatever reason, that I’m not deserving of where I’ve got to. It’s always there, just at varying volumes. But what I’ve found over the years, aside from trying to understand why I have these self-doubts, is that I can do a lot to build confidence myself and help instil that same confidence in my team. Personal Development is vital to keep yourself and your knowledge current and having a company that shares the importance of ‘betterness’ is super important too. Recently I have gained my MIPA accreditation with the IPA. All the training and knowledge available helps me to encourage others to do the same, and I impart these learnings wherever I can. They support me with self-belief, but also encourage me to be a great media practitioner.
What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?
I never really had a calling for what I wanted to do. My A-levels consisted of Maths, Chemistry and Computer Science as I preferred numbers rather than words.
I did think that whatever role I was going to do in life was likely to involve people, so I opted to study psychology to open the options for when I did make my decision. This is where my real interest in human behaviour sparked. I found learning about how advertising influenced attitudes, beliefs and behaviour highly exciting and it led me down the media path that I am on today. Looking at the science of the reach and frequency against different audience segment behavioural patterns is where I love connecting the dots.
What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?
There are several career wins that spring to mind, for example client wins, or being the first to launch with media placement and tech. However, the biggest win is working for the advertising agency that I aspired to work for at the start of my career, and having such a high performing team with a strong aligned culture. My biggest career loss was when I was made redundant from an agency early on my career. I thought it was the end of the world at the time, but looking back on it I had just changed direction, not taken a backwards step.
What’s your secret to remain inspired and motivated?
I set myself life and career goals. Life goals include getting on the housing ladder by the age of 30 for example, and career goals include things like getting MIPA accredited from the Institute of Practitioners of Advertising.
I also read a lot. I’ve just finished reading The Messy Middle by Google, which was great. I love it when insights from books like these can be applied in real-time, and into the search strategies that we use to measure campaign effectiveness. I also am about to start Zconomy by Jason Dorsey and Denise Villa. In essence, this is all about the pursuit of betterness and to make sure I continually bring something of value to my clients and my colleagues alike.
Which individuals and/or agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
Sheryl Sandburg at Facebook is my inspiration and a woman in the industry who I look up to. Les Binet is one of my heroes for adding the substantiative evidence and thinking to creative and advertising; talking about effectiveness is still a conversation a lot of agencies and clients should be having but still aren’t.
How has COVID-19 affected you?
When I first heard we were going into lockdown, back in March 2020, I was actually six months into my maternity leave. I just knew that I had to come out of maternity leave to ensure that we could best navigate our way through the unknown together; it was the best thing to do. This enabled the team to feel supported so they could concentrate on what they needed to do, and that the clients had the reassurance of extra resource and experience informing and advising decisions about their campaigns. On a personal note, I knew that the unknown was going to be chaotic to navigate and I felt a responsibility for people’s livelihoods. This informed my decision to stay on maternity pay until things settled and I was focused on ensuring the numbers were where they needed to be.
What is your biggest hope for 2021?
My biggest hope for 2021 is to be able to socialise in some way, shape, or form with other human beings in real life. I would also absolutely love to go on holiday!
What is your one piece of advice to aspiring creative professionals?
Don’t let yourself get boxed into a particular space. If you’re curious about a specific area within the industry go and be curious within it,iIt will enrich and inspire you.
How do you recharge away from the office?
Pre COVID, I played netball for a local team - which I found so good for the soul. Being surrounded by likeminded strong women, who always have your back, is a sure pick-me-up after a tough day. I also horse ride., Horses don’t care who you are, where you’re from or what you do; they treat you consistently each day.
Today I don’t really have much time to recharge, as my home is my office. The kids are off school and let’s just say, working and home schooling is … a challenge. My husband and I have decided to get up an hour earlier to spend some time as a family before work and chaos prevails. The weekends are the time to switch off with the family and enjoy the being in the moment.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
I graduated with an honours degree in psychology. If I’d have continued down that route, I would like to have been a Psychologist specialising in psychopathology or working in drug and alcohol recovery.
What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?
I hope that media stops being such a ‘dark art’ and that it becomes better understood – a mathematical and human hybrid. Creative ideas can lead to the best media placements, and the best media placements can inspire some of the most creative ideas and copy!
Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?
As mentioned earlier, Zconomy by Jason Dorsey and Denise Villa I think is an important read about how Gen-Z are ging to change the future of business. The Drum, Marketing Week and Campaign are all interesting places to go for the latest news in the industry.