What does a head of creative solutions actually do?

In this feature, we take a look inside the working lives of people whose job titles often warrant the question: 'but what do you actually do?' This week, we speak to Manmeet Bindra, Sizmek's head of creative solutions APAC.

What do you actually do?

Essentially, I bring together creative agencies and our media partners to help brands deliver (fabulously creative) ads.

This involves designing creative campaign strategies, working out the best way to target an audience with the right message and, critically, refining the campaign parameters to make it more effective. Typically, a creative agency is focused on the creative concept and idea and the media agency is focused on audience, targeting and delivery – I bridge the gap between them. It means using both my left and right brain and acting as a conduit, or creative consultant as I like to call it.

Another big part of my role is to spend time with the sales teams to make sure they’re aware of what is creatively possible so that we can recommend custom solutions. In the past, creativity has taken a back seat in digital so it’s important to make sure the whole team is aware of the vital role creative plays in the entire campaign process.

Plus, I manage a team of creative consultants across APAC, which involves juggling several time zones and understanding different working cultures. They’re a fairly self-sufficient lot when it comes to output, so I spend a lot of time listening to them and exchanging ideas to ensure they have what they need resource and tool-wise to do their jobs well.

What do you do on a day to day basis?

Coffee and planning are my constants each day. Over coffee, I make a list of the top three things I want to achieve in that day (plus on a Monday, I list the five things I want to achieve during the week).

Beyond that I spend the majority of my time discussing creative strategies with clients (and sharing their feedback with our internal teams). I’m paid to constantly think of ways to promote creativity and how digital campaigns can get smarter, more engaging and more personalised. I therefore try and put some time aside each day to research, review and consume inspiring creative and technical innovations.

My team is spread about between Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore and Japan so there’s also a fair bit of time spent on conference calls to share learnings and discuss how we can lift our creative game across the region. As a manager I follow the 80/20 rule, spending 80 percent of my time gathering information and listening to my team and clients and then 20 percent of my time making good decisions as a leader. My aim is to be less instructive and more inspiring (which I think my team will back me up on!).

What does a good day look like?

I think it’s pretty typical in the media industry to become good friends with your team and with many of your clients, so on one level it’s hard to have a bad day as I get to work with people I like, respect and would choose to hang out with outside of a work situation.

My best days are usually when a campaign you’ve spent countless hours on to onboard sophisticated creative strategies, had scores of meetings with the clients and agency partners, finally rolls out and then outperforms expectations as a result of my team’s advice and input. I’m in the business of creativity but I’m also in the business of getting great results. When we hit the sweet spot of one driving the other, it makes for a really good day.

What does a bad day look like?

One of the problems with acting as a conduit between creative and media agencies is that there can be days when there’s a lot of pressure on us to problem solve in order to get a campaign live, with Murphy’s law dictating that issues usually land on my desk around 4.30pm on a Friday. This goes with the territory but can be tricky when we’re waiting on different components to be delivered from various partners to bring the campaign together – the feeling of having all care and no control can be frustrating after a long week.

A larger industry frustration for me is that there’s still a pretty big knowledge gap when it comes to the creative possibilities available in digital today, which usually comes to the fore when onboarding a new client. This can mean that opportunities to execute inspiring creative and personalised campaigns can be lost as we get bogged down in the detail – or there’s a misconception about price points because clients want a Lamborghini but only have the budget for a Mazda.

What are your KPIs and how do you meet them?

It boils down to two things. Are my team and my customers happy? Customer satisfaction is generally measured via feedback surveys and whether or not they become repeat customers. Our aim is to build long term partnerships in market, so we do things like hot desk in client offices and prioritise face to face meetings to always offer the best customer service.
When it comes to my team, it’s more holistic – are they doing their job well, are they constantly innovating, do they have the training and resources they need and ultimately, are they enjoying what they do?

What’s the most stressful part about your job?

Honestly? It’s dealing with the many different stakeholders involved in planning and executing a successful campaign. Everyone has a slightly different agenda and way of working so we all have to make sure we collaborate efficiently and effectively – communication is absolutely critical!

I’d also throw in tight deadlines as we frequently get last minute requests, but that’s the business we are in. Often it turns into a learning experience, and we find ways to remediate it, but at the time it can feel like a very stressful situation. I try and help my team find strategies to manage and cope with this to make sure they don’t burn themselves out and are in it for the long-haul.

Manmeet Bindra is Sizmek’s head of creative solutions APAC.


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