A week in my life - Jo Whiteley, CD
Based in Altrincham, the integrated agency was founded in 2006 by Christian James and Brian Rees. Since joining the agency in 2007, she works with numerous brands including Marston’s, Knowsley Safari, Destinology, The Original Factory Shop and Zentia.
Here, Jo shared how a recent week in her life went...
Before I start – you should know, this is an honest account of my life. I have not dressed it up to appear smarter, more ‘interesting’ or give the impression ‘I’ve got this’.
I started the week with Mum guilt. Yep, it’s Halloween and I’m working NOT Trick or Treating! 12 WhatsApp messages later, I have a solution so my son doesn’t miss the fun! Today I’m in the office. Having had a few days off I’m greeted by over 100 emails – perfect! Turns out most just needed deleting, so by lunchtime I’m on top of emails, I’ve caught up on what I’ve missed and have a priority list for the rest of the day.
Cloud nine?? Oh not so fast. My son has been collected by a friend and is part of the action however, it’s pi***ng down now and … he left his coat at school. Dancing in the rain was fun at the time, now he’s freezing! So that leaves me having to squeeze some un-planned parenting into my already tight schedule.
I get up early to review some creative I didn’t get to yesterday and thankfully it was worth getting up for. Great idea, beautifully executed, all it needed from me was a few copy tweaks and a suggestion as to how we’d improve engagement on a couple of the campaign assets. Magic.
The school run beckons next. I walk most days, not because I have loads of time on my hands, but because it’s good exercise and a chance to shoot the breeze. On the way back (phone always on silent!) I am at my absolute best; here or the shower is where the good stuff often happens. I consistently solve problems, come up with ideas and get the ball rolling – by the time I get to the agency I’ve done a days work.
Today was one of those days, bursting with ideas I sit down to a well-earned brew. My day is fairly fast paced from here on in. I find most weeks I have at least one or two days where I’m back to back - feeding into creative briefs, reviewing concepts, zoom presentations etc. I love it when you get to the end of the day feeling you’ve made a difference, had a positive impact – the team around you are motivated and confidently going about their daily business.
We also have an all agency update on Tuesday, it’s usually just a round-up of what’s happened the week before, what’s going on in the week ahead, an opportunity to share ideas, showcase creative, new business updates etc. It’s great, particularly with hybrid working.
This week however – it was a lunch and learn session, with Jake taking us on his journey of discovery into the world of AI. Undeniably fascinating. Last couple of hours of the day – head down, finalising presentations and writing notes for tomorrow’s meeting… to be honest, the hard lifting was done on this last week, but the day before is when we all start sense checking, challenging each other, getting our thoughts together sharing opinions / concerns etc. and we’re ready.
Or as ready as we’ll ever be. Just in time for a six o’clock interview.
Today I spend too long in the car. That said, I thrive on face to face, particularly creative presentations. Yes, yes, we’ve all heard of Teams – but honestly, there is nothing better than an adrenaline fuelled, passionate creative presentation to get the heart racing and the client team fired up.
I won’t lie, I get an immense sense of achievement in seeing a room full of people who arrive with the world on their shoulders and leave with a spring in their step. This meeting however, was more of a meet new partners, a round up from the last 12 months and it was fascinating. Great chemistry in the room and some interesting creative and strategic challenges on the horizon.
Next up – drive to Gateshead in time for tomorrows immersion session.
Late finish, early start…but a really cracking day. 8am – safety shoes on… and I’m at our client Zetia’s official training school with some of the team: Stu, CGI Stu and Henry. Now I’m well versed in client immersion, I’ve been on family days out, I’ve eaten in countless pubs and restaurants, I’ve been sent to Eurocamps, hit the casino, used various lotions and potions, tried laundry products, met victims of crime and the perpetrators.
Today, I’m going to be installing a suspended ceiling! Thankfully, I’ve a ton of DIY experience, I’m not too bad at maths and with a load of new product launches planned, I have a genuine interest in getting some working knowledge. Apparently, I am one of none. Stay with me… even in this day and age the trainer said he knows of zero female installers!
And I thought being a female Creative Director was a minority at just 4%. Anyway, I digress – what a day. Me and Henry ‘took on’ the not so mighty Stu’s. They think they won – because they were faster. However, we were masters of the art – perfectionists. Working to the standard we’re accustomed under the manta 'Do it once, do it right'. I’ll leave you to decide the true winners!
I did gain certification for this skill – something to fall back on! Of course, whilst I’ve been training, all manner of ‘can you justs’ have accumulated. So before I drive home, I grab another well-deserved brew and get back to the day job!
I’m WFH today – I usually do on a Friday, who in their right mind doesn’t? So I go next level on the school run – usually, three miles through the back roads and across fields, in the summer I do participate in ‘grounding’. Not so much at this time of year! You might be forgiven for thinking then that Fridays are more relaxed. Wrong. I’m firing on all cylinders now, determined to pick up EVERY outstanding action on my ever growing to-do list.
In reality I never achieve this – but ever the optimist I still start the day with the misguided belief I can and I will before school pick up. Again, a luxury I afford myself on a Friday.
This goes some way to making up for the guilt I feel for not being the one taking him to trampolining, swimming, never hosting after-school play dates and rarely attending award assemblies. Probably, why I’m in the minority, right? But let me leave you with this thought… many of my friends having left professions (by their own admission) hate their now beige, monotonous jobs or feel unfulfilled and undervalued at home.
I, on the other hand, never stop learning, am surrounded by inspirational, inquisitive and talented people, I might be knackered half the time but I have self-worth, I’m never bored and I’ve always valued friends and family time more than most. Priceless. Now bring on the weekend!