Clive Evans, Partner at The Strategy department has a Bachelor of Social Science – majoring in Economics and Marketing. But in his own words, “My real life qualifications come from some 25 years in the world of brand building, including 10 years with AC Nielsen and 12 years with BBDO.” More about Clive – in his own, very talented words, in our interview below: What do you do at The Strategy Department? Most of our days are spent developing brand and communication strategies. Essentially we build the foundations and provide the direction to help grow brands. We also do research projects and some training. But if you were to ask my family the same question they would tell you I make PowerPoint slides….
What skills does someone need to have in order to be successful in your position?
The courage of conviction, packaging and sales skills.In a sense we are salespeople – we sell thinking, approaches and ideas.
What additional strengths do you bring to what you do?
My experience. (Read as euphemism for my age). Having been in the business for a while one starts to gain a level of trust; clients look to you for advice.
It’s mostly desk-work, either at our offices or the offices of our clients. (And yes – lots of PowerPoint – I am not a Keynote fan.) In the immersion phases of projects we like to get out and about to gain insights and understanding, but the truth is we never get out as much as we would like. Otherwise, everyday is different – different clients, different projects, different categories, and different brands means that things are always interesting. We also have a few different characters here at The Strategy Department to help keep things interesting!
What part of your job inspires you?
Cracking the insight, cracking the idea, selling the direction, seeing it come to life. It’s a whole chain of elements and events; some are quick wins whilst others take months and months. Selling an idea is great, seeing the intangible thinking become a reality is always great, and seeing it do well is truly fantastic. The Strategy Department has clients in Africa (other than South Africa), where and why and what are your future plans in Africa? Yes, as a team we have worked extensively across West, East Africa and Central Africa. The reality is that there is a huge need for strategic skills in helping to build brands across the continent and our role is to help plug those gaps. As to our future plans, well we are not about to open offices in Lagos or Nairobi just yet, but we would like to extend our presence beyond Johannesburg…
The Strategy Department is involved in Training – can you tell us a bit more about that?
We would like to think of ourselves as the preferred incubator for Strategists in South Africa, so we have mentored or trained many interns. Some have been fantastic and we have kept them, others just did their spell and moved on and some were truly bad. It’s always a learning for both them and us. Beyond interns we also have training programs and work with and mentor staff, so training is an everyday, ongoing facet of the business. You seem to be very widely read – who are the people / business sites you keep up to date with? In truth I don’t read as much as I used to or would like to. I keep in touch online with Twitter and LinkedIn feeds and by being pushed to usual local sites such as BizCommunity and Between 10 and 5.I try to get my hands on a ‘must read’ book at least once a month. I have not been shopping recently but the authors I would recommend include Aaker, Lindstrom, Gladwell, Lehrer, Taleb, Peters and Maister.
What would you change in the ad industry if you could?
I don’t believe that strategy has ever really had the respect it actually requires and deserves, especially within the local advertising industry, so this is something we are constantly working on;trying to build the credentials and importance of the role of strategy both at an agency and at a client level.
What do I love? What I love is what I was saying earlier. Every project and every day is different and when you crack the insight and idea and then see it come to life and thrive its awesome – it’s a combination of all of that that I love. I also love clients who understand and respect what we do and those who respond with a heartfelt and genuine “thank-you”.
What do you do for fun?
I dolots of sweaty-stuff – marathons and ultra marathons. Yes, for fun. Stuff like the Dusi, Comrades and Iron Man. It’s my way of earning my cool-drinks. For me, cool-drinks are Hansa; the brand that has supported canoeing for decades – thanks guys!
Anything else you’d like to add…
Thanks for your time – and if you need strategic support, please call us!
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