Opinion

Fake it til’ you make it… as an ad agency receptionist

Susie-Henry---Leo-Burnett-SydneySFWFrom dressing the part to playing the gatekeeper, Leo Burnett Sydney’s Susie Henry tells us how to make it as the face of adland in a piece that first appeared in Encore.

What does a receptionist in an ad agency actually do?

Well, there’s the frantic every-day, all-day stuff of deliveries, courier bookings, doing expenses for directors – always challenging – plus arranging all the travel. But one of my main jobs is counselling the account service people. I also keep up with all sports information to discuss with our sports-loving clients – because who wants to be bored while they’re waiting? And I know how they like their coffee. You need to know everyone – from accounting to HR. I’m also the go-to for all catering and sending flowers.

Who do you need to know in order to do the job?

I need to know a lot of people in the Publicis Groupe network around the world. I’m lucky, having been here for 28.3 years, that I have developed those relationships.

Is there any lingo you need to know to do the job?

You need to stay on top of what’s happening in advertising − in all media − and what the media is saying about the media and advertising, not just your agency but about the competitors because visitors and your colleagues ask questions all the time.

What is the dress code?

I do have fun here: frocks, shoes and major jewellery.

What is a typical day like?

Making it happen: greeting clients, making sure their meetings are booked and everyone is prepared. Mostly I try to make coming into this agency a pleasure for all who do – and that includes staff, clients and delivery boys.

What’s the secret to getting the most out of your job?

My happiness is greeting people, making them feel welcome and relaxed. If there is a secret, it’s being genuine. I enjoy what I do, and I think that shows.

Often you are called upon to be the ‘gatekeeper’. How do you do so tactfully?

I am very diplomatic, yet firm. I don’t like to disillusion people or be disrespectful, as you never know when you might cross paths again.

What’s the secret to making this a fulfilling career and not just a stepping stone to another position in the business? 

Again, I think you have to have a genuine interest in what you’re doing right now. This is a fulfilling career. I’ve held bigger jobs in advertising – but not necessarily more enjoyable. I’m doing my job as long as I make it enjoyable for anyone and everyone who comes into our agency.

What’s the greatest challenge? 

Greatest challenge is to make sure everything in reception flows smoothly for everyone. Working with these young kids is a daily excitement that I love and I couldn’t imagine life without working with them.

What’s the most fun part of the job?

We have hot actors, voice over guys and young people wanting to get into advertising and they are all enthusiastic and excited about advertising. The fun part of the job is that every second there is something new happening.

Encore Issue 14

This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit encore.com.au for a preview of the app or click below to download.

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