When you think about where the most creative people work from photographers to designers to writers ad agencies utilize some of the best. International advertising agency Havas knows a thing or two about making imaginative content that people actually connect with. With clients ranging from Louis Vuitton to IBM, it takes a special bunch to make that kind of magic happen. Havas does it all with a fearless commitment to their craft, laser focus on their hustle, and a keen sense of humility.
When I think about the kinds of campaigns Ive loved the Olympics commercials always come to mind they always speak to something in me that I didnt even know was there. But how does a company like Havas keep coming up with fresh ideas?
One word: talent. I sat down with Jennifer Marszalek, chief talent officer of the Havas Chicago Village, to get a peek behind the curtain to find out what life is like working for a top ad agency and what it takes to get there.
Rachel Bitte: Is an understanding of or interest in global brands a must have to get hired? Or do you chiefly look for a sense of ingenuity in your applicants ? strong>
Jennifer Marszalek: We want people who arent only copywriters or art directors, but people who create things. Are they a photographer, a social influencer, or have some sort of side hustle where theyre making something? People that can manifest that ingenuity and really turn it into something will prosper here. Its less about an interest in brands and more of an interest in culture overall broader, societal culture in particular. We look for people that are tuned into trends and can use that knowledge to help build the brands that theyre working with . em>
: strong> Manifest your ingenuity into something you believe in . strong>
RB: Havas creates really clever, memorable content. Does that same energy distinguish the route you all work ? strong>
JM: At Havas Chicago, it’s really about being all in were a heartfelt agency at our core and reflect that in every way that we work, from our open office seating to the way we collaborate and integrate our areas of expertise. We sit by client squad so we can collaborate more; we work between creative, PR, experiential and media buying seamlessly. The open spaces allow our people to work together and not feel separated. We do so many different types of work, but it’s all connected. We wouldnt be as liquid if we were sitting by function . em>
: strong> Be ready to collaborate with groups beyond your region of expertise . strong>
RB: Thats awesome! It feels like Havas has really determined its own niche. How would you say that influences Havas company culture ? strong>
JM : em> From that connected and collaborative environment, we have a culture where things truly grow organically. For example, we have been doing various activatings to celebrate diversity. From Black and Womens history month, Pride month, different employee groups work on how we can come together to celebrate as a community. We also have a happy hour every other week thats hosted by our Havas Latino team called Rum Club. They marketplace it and come up with different recipes each time it was their notion in the first place, so they built it happen rather than being something Havas planned. The employees actually take it upon themselves to plan these activities because they are so passionate about sharing them with our company. We love it . em>
Something else unique about Havas is that a lot of employee communication is on social media. One of our primary tools for communication with employees is Snapchat! When we have a free giveaway( like Cubs tickets conceal around the office ), a town hall meeting, or exciting office changes, we get employees to Snap them for us. So for example, Rum Club will put the word out about their next event via Snapchat. Were also big on Instagram and have a shut Facebook group, but we tend to use Snapchat for big, fun announcements. It get everyone involved . em>
: strong> Find a company that values your passion and lets you embrace and share it . strong>
RB: So say an applicants resume has impressed you and he or she makes it to the interview round . strong> Whats a tough interview question you always ask that candidates should be prepared for ? strong>
JM: What would your coworkers tell me is your superpower? That always makes people pause. Theyre ready to tell you their strengths, but when you turn it around, they have to give it some more thought and dive deeper to reveal something more true about themselves. Another one I love is, What was a recent humbling experience you went through? They have to get a little unguarded. Its a thoughtful question and sometimes brings up emotions. How theyre able to describe that and the depth and maturity of that question speaks to a lot of the aspects that would construct them a cultural fit at Havas . em>
: strong> Its okay to be honest and vulnerable in an interview in fact, sometimes it gives you an advantage . strong>
RB: Ultimately, I merely have to ask whats one piece of career advice you wouldve devoted yourself when you were young ? strong>
JM: Do everything! I merely insured Hamilton, and the most defining advice is, Dont miss your shot. Learn everything you can learn. Dont feel like youre above anything or its outside of your lane because it will all lead to something good . em>
: strong> Learn, try, do . strong>
Whether youre a copywriter with a passion for food blogs or a data analyst with an Etsy shop let your passion manifest itself outside of work and show your ingenuity in new ways. To make it in the ad world, a keen eye for the trends that shape our society can give you a leg up on whats next and what really arouses people.
Taking initiative and collaborating with people that have different skills than yourself can widen your perspective and bring you closer as a squad. Being vulnerable in an interview can give the interviewer a deeper, honest insight into who you are, making a lasting connection.
And ultimately, always remember to learn, try, and do everythingdont miss your shot.
Rachel is Chief People Officer at Jobvite, a.k.a ., head honcho of determining and keeping the geniuses who work there. As Jobvites Chief People Officer, Rachel brings with her a wealth of HR experienceparticularly in the tech industrywith a focus on change leadership and talent management. In her free time, she is all about anything outdoors that burns calories, including road ride, mountain biking, snowboarding, and backpacking . i>