24 Hours… with Katy Guan, strategic planner at BBDO Shanghai

A seven-kilometre run kicks off a day that only gets more hectic with every passing hour, at least until the piano break and Netflix binge kick in for Katy Guan – a strategic planner at BBDO Shanghai

7.30am: Truly wake up with a cup of Americano. When there are no early presentation meetings, I can spend less time on make-up, meaning I get more time for a run. There is nothing better than a seven-kilometre run morning run along Huangpu River to kick off my day.

The 7km morning run

9.30am: Advertising is just the thing I am passionate about. And I simply enjoy watching ads, especially good ads. I make time to have a ‘creative breakfast’, watching Cannes winning cases, classic ads from great brands and most importantly, the latest ads. It always reminds me why I love this industry. And it really sparks fresh thinking.

10am: Currently, I work as the planning lead for several accounts in the agency. But as a young professional, it’s very important to get the mentoring I need.

For some key projects, I work closely with Hans (who is the COO as well as the strategy leader for BBDO Greater China). A quick catch-up with him for status updates and to get feedback is part of my life.

10.30am: I always read before I start writing strategy. Recently I am working on projects about ‘modern women’ and ‘young single adults’. I read magazines, cases, articles and reports related to these subjects, searching to understand new findings, and data mining to test my assumptions.

Research material

10.45am: Mornings are when I can be highly focused. As soon as I start writing strategy, I hope there are no interruptions. That’s why I sometimes sit in a secret corner with my laptop to have some alone time. Later, I get back to my emails, messages and colleagues who are looking for me.

12.45pm: Most of the time I have lunch inside the Grand Gateway buildings, where the BBDO Shanghai office is. But when the weather is really good, I go out and have a sandwich at Xuhui Park just to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air.

2.00pm: As planners, we make presentations all the time to deliver our strategy, tell a story, and sometimes even to inspire a discussion. Today, the team and I are going to make a first round of presentations for our clients.

3.00pm: I actually enjoy the half-hour drive with my team, on the way back to the office. We celebrate if the presentation is good, just like today. We also reflect and discuss if sometimes the feedback is not that good.

One thing I love about working at a creative agency is the seamless teamwork across account planning and creative.

4.00pm: Before closing the day, there are many creative review meetings, internally. I see how the creative team translates my brief into creative work and give them feedback from a strategic point of view. I have high expectations and standards for creative work. At BBDO, we always say ‘The Work, The Work, The Work’.

We mock ourselves about it meaning being workaholic and working overtime, but actually it’s a belief ‘in the absence of great work, nothing else matters’.

That’s why creative review meetings at BBDO can be very tough. Sometimes, it ends with a brainstorm. And I certainly love it as I can pretend I am a creative and come up with as many ideas as I want.

Agency philosophy subjected to some good natured ribbing

8.00pm: As a strategist, you don’t want to miss any trends. In fact, you want to be the first to capture trends. That’s why I love chatting with friends from different industries like consulting, finance, medical, media, architecture, luxury and tech. By listening to their lives, what I get is not just inspiration, but a flavour of the current social climate.

10.00pm: As soon as I arrive home, I become a little girl who goes straight for her favourite toy – the piano. It’s my favourite part of the day. I think less and feel more in the world of music.

Time to think less and feel more

11.30pm: Another thing I love about being a planner is I am always learning something new in the course of work. As I mentioned earlier, I am working on a project related to ‘modern women’. Tonight, I am going to watch a new documentary from Netflix, Feminists: What Were They Thinking?

12.45am: Bed time.


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