We spoke with Audrey Shaefaer, Account Executive at Havas Chicago, about the advantage of working alongside multiple departments and how modernizing certain processes in the industry can provide greater accessibility.
Can you tell us about your current role and responsibilities?
It’s funny how often I get to explain what I do, the title of Account Executive is rather vague, but our responsibilities range so much on the day-to-day. I’m a “middle woman” between our creative teams and our clients. I ensure the client’s goals/needs for a project are taken back to our team in a way that allows their creativity to flourish. From there I am involved in supporting our various departments throughout the project’s entire life cycle, from initial brief to final production and release. I’m a creative cheerleader for our creative teams and a trusted thought partner to our clients. The best of both worlds you could say.
What drew you to work at this agency and what opportunities does it provide to foster your professional growth?
I was drawn to Havas because of its vision, one built upon meaningfulness. It’s not only defined but unified across the network, and you can feel it, even via remote working. I could also sense growth was genuinely fostered here, something very important to me in a place of work. For me, professional growth means constant learning, and the agency encourages us to keep doing so through our own “Havas University”. Regularly we have various panels we can attend, and programs to enroll in. One that caught my eye was Femmes Forward, an accelerator program for female employees.
Are there any unused skills you have that you'd love to incorporate into your professional work?
This one really made me think! I’m fortunate that I get to apply many of my skills to my work because it really requires a range from different buckets: organization, planning, problem solving, creativity and communication. Fun fact, I am a certified Health Coach so perhaps some of these coaching skills can be leverage in a unique way! Client services is a bit of coaching in some respect after all.
Joining such a massive industry can be overwhelming, how do you stay informed and ahead of the curve?
I’d have to thank my network of such talented, curious and determined folks for keeping me well informed and on my toes in this industry. I love a good newsletter or podcast, but conversations and peering in on the more candid perspectives of others is even better.
What areas in the industry do you believe could use an overhaul?
It is amazing how fast the advertising industry can be. But some aspects remain complacent, and a great deal of that comes down to the foundation of where/how the industry began. I admire areas of the industry that are finally ramping up support for their employees and their communities, the pay gap and diversity, but attention and action is still overdue. Accessibility to the advertising industry, as well as for those who consume our advertising is another important concern. Where are our limits? And how do we explore beyond them and find solutions.
I also think back to the forms of education many of us received (or did not receive) as students. Let’s rewrite some of those archaic advertising 101 textbooks and showcase what advertising really is like today. Let’s build programs for students or professionals where they don’t exist or where an example hasn’t been set before. Let’s find talent in natural habitats and lessen the expectation for years of experience or award-winning portfolios.
Where do you hope this role will take you down the line?
Advertising is truly a vast playground; I hope to continue aligning my work with passion and discover what good advertising means to me and how it can earn its place in front of a consumer. I hope I can inspire teams and motivate mentees. I know this role will continue to surround me with some of the most talented minds and delightful characters, and I can only hope to keep growing and making meaningful differences alongside them.