Having worked my way up to a promotion in the space of a year from Account Executive to Senior Account Executive, working on various agency accounts, I guess you could say it looks like I know what I’m doing when it comes to account management.

But how would it sound if I said to you that two years ago I didn’t know what account management was at all? And what if I also threw in the fact that I was studying for an advertising degree only two and a half years ago and still had no idea?

Studying creative advertising as a degree

Yes, I did an advertising degree and didn’t know account management was a thing. I studied Creative Advertising at the University of Lincoln, a brilliant course with specialisms in art direction, copywriting and strategy, ideally setting students up for agency life in a creative partnership. I wouldn’t choose to do another course, it was amazing, but I think I always knew that I was never going to be either an art director or a copywriter, being a jack of both trades but a master of neither. Really, my love was for the strategy and planning side of the work. But even though we focused heavily on research, strategy, and planning, account management was never even discussed.

I’m not sure what I thought happened in the background. Maybe I thought elves or little fairies were running amok when the brief alarm went off with emails and bits of paper flying around (it’s kind of cool to think of it that way). In hindsight, I’m not sure the course would have been sold the same if we had to act as an account manager at the start of each brief we were set, liaising via email with a client, working out all the nitty gritty and calculating estimates for our creative work before we could get started. But now I know that this is all part of my day-to-day and I love it.

Caitlin after graduating at the Lincoln Cathedral

What is account management?

Every day looks a bit different in the world of account management. From an in-person marketing meeting with a client one day, to a photoshoot the next, a day never seems to drag in this exciting role. I'll try and sum it up one sentence; account executives, managers and directors essentially make things happen and get projects rolling.

We receive new briefs every day and we work on anything and everything, from print assets like press ads, leaflets and even billboards, to digital assets like social media posts, display banners and more - the list goes on! Our job is to get a clear brief set up and then pass it over to the relevant team - mainly our design team in the studio - to set up the work.

Conversations and meetings are part and parcel of this process; we're always talking with clients, designers, media specialists and lots more. Of course, high quality work is very rarely built in a day, and as an account executive we also do a lot of proofing, briefing in amends to work, discussing best approaches, updating status reports, creating timelines and more.

The account management team on a shoot
On shoot with a client

The perfect fit for me

I knew what I wanted to do - I wanted to be involved in strategy work but not necessarily a strategist, I wanted to contribute my ideas to artwork but I didn’t want to be a designer and I wanted to write and proof without being a dedicated copywriter. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on what this role was and what it would be referred to as. Only once I did a deeper dive into agency structures did I realise account management was actually a thing and that it incorporated all the things I loved about my course in one place.

Being an account executive is practical, you’ll do a lot of organising, time management exercises, working on costs and finances and of course, speaking to clients both face-to-face and via email communication. But the creative side of things is still there.

One of the things I enjoy most about the role is briefing in work to the studio as there’s still opportunities to think outside the box. Often the issue with working as an art director was that I had good ideas with insights and strategy behind them, but couldn’t actually portray them in the most effective and creative way. Now I can work with our studio and design teams who can do that tenfold!

There are still plenty of opportunities to work on my copywriting also. Setting up marketing emails and writing copy for print adverts and other materials is always enjoyable, and having the copywriting training at college and university has actually been invaluable in helping me write for the target audience in the appropriate tone of voice.

Is account management right for you?

I don't think anyone will be surprised that my answer is a wholehearted 'yes'! I believe people from all walks of life can be fascinated by the world of client services and it can be a great fit for most, and there are many transferable skills you can take from other roles into this one, such as:

  • Customer service - any past experience in jobs such as hospitality and retail means you are already half-way there in terms of speaking to people and dealing with any potential sticky situations
  • Attention to detail - we all take a bit of pride in pointing out grammatical mistakes or critiquing something that doesn’t quite look right. This is a huge part of your day-to-day in an account team
  • Problem solving - we solve problems every day in both our personal and professional lives. It’s a fast-paced environment in the advertising industry but you’ll thrive off (and probably be amazed at) how quick you'll become at working through trickier situations or potential issues

My piece of advice would be: don’t be put off by the fact you may not know what account management is. I didn’t, and I still don’t (if my managers and directors are reading this, that was a lie and I absolutely 100% know what I am doing). What I mean by that is the world of account management is vast; there are so many different working parts to it and you will keep learning new things every single day.

Whether you have a background in creative, arts, languages, psychology, business, hospitality - you name it - I’d definitely encourage people to consider account management as their first or next career move.

Looking for the best in client services?

Caitlin and our account management team can help you make that next big project a success.

Get in touch

Caitlin Hemsley

Senior Account Executive