Simon Webb, digital account manager
Simon works for a global digital marketing agency. He got into account management through a graduate scheme, offering him a structured introduction to his career.
I'm from Sussex, but I now live in London.
What job do you do?
I'm an account manager for DigitasLBi, a global digital marketing agency, and my role is based in the client services team. The London office is in The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane – a great place to go to work every day.
How did you get started in design?
I don't have a background in design – I did English at university. After I graduated, I looked for jobs that involved creative work and would draw upon my strengths, including my communication skills.
I found a vacancy for the DigitasLBi account management graduate scheme on my university careers service.
I looked for jobs that involved creative work and would draw upon my communication skills.
The scheme involved lots of shadowing, particularly in the first month. I didn't have a marketing or digital background, so there was plenty to learn. Fortunately it was very structured, easing new staff into the role rather than throwing them in the deep end.
What qualifications do you have?
I studied English Literature at UCL and went on to do a Masters at Cambridge.
Completing a Foundation Account Management qualification has also been part of the DigitasLBi scheme. I did this with the Institute of Practioners in Advertising.
What do you do at work?
On a normal day we start off with a team meeting called 'the scrum', which gives all the people involved with a particular client account the opportunity to discuss what's going on with it.
My job involves being an intermediary between the client, the web designers and the developers. I'm basically the eyes and ears of the client and I help feed back what they want. I pre-emptively ask designers the questions a client would. I also make sure that projects are briefed correctly and to the client's specifications.
I'm the eyes and ears of the client and help feed back what they want.
On the flipside, I represent the agency, being the face of it to the client.
As it's a big agency that works with quite high-profile names, I only work with between one and three clients at a time. Previous clients have included AstraZeneca and E·ON.
What's the best thing about your job?
Account managers are always in the loop. I like that I can know lots about what's going on in the company and be at the epicentre of everything.
You also get to take part in the glory, showing off the organisation's work when it goes right.
And the worst thing about the job?
On the other hand, you also have to carry the can when things go wrong, which means dealing with angry team members and clients!
How do I get into design?
1. Read around your sector
These can help you to get the knowledge of the sector, as well as giving you an insight into what people are excited about and talking about in the industry. You should then show this off in an interview.
2. Communication skills are key
Good communication is the most important tool for an account manager, so consider whether this is your strength.
3. Presentation is important
How you dress can be indicative of how far you understand the industry. If you are invited for an interview, it might be best to not turn up in a suit. You would fit in more if you dressed more creatively, like a designer – while still being smart of course.
Whatever your desired job, you should research the culture of an organisation before an interview or open day first, and from there take a call on what is appropriate.
4. Your education won't be the deciding factor
People in account management tend to have gone through higher education, but they come from a range of different disciplines. What you studied doesn't matter that much in itself, but if you want to go with an organisation like DigitasLBi, the important thing is to have a good degree.
5. Understand the role of account manager
Whereas project managers ensure things are on budget and on time, account managers ensure they are on brief. This is an important distinction and one that is often confused.