Creative Lives — Be unapologetically brilliant: Amos Eretusi, junior strategy consultant at Clear M&C Saatchi
Amos Eretusi is a professional pattern-spotter. Trained as a civil engineer, he was already well-versed in noticing repetitive behaviours when he graduated from Portsmouth University in 2015, something he’s found useful in his current role as a junior strategy consultant at Clear M&C Saatchi. “I’m constantly thinking about what’s been previously done,” he shares. “Seeing patterns can be valuable in predicting what the next trend is, which is important for brands who want to be ahead of the game.” Often working on up to three projects at once, being flexible certainly helps. This is something Amos’ university days also prepared him for, as he worked a supermarket job in London and commuted to Portsmouth for classes on Sunday nights. He tells us about the journey that brought him here, his upcoming side project for creative-community initiative The Kusp, and his personal vision for the industry.
Junior Strategy Consultant, Clear M&C Saatchi (2017–present)
Consulting Intern C-Space (2017)
Marketing Assistant, StartUpBootcamp (2016)
BEng Civil Engineering, University of Portsmouth (2012–2015)
How would you describe your job?
As a strategist, I make sense of data or insights, align those findings with a brand’s value or aim, and suggest an ideal method of approach to get the best outcome possible.
In most cases, the brands we work with are all looking for different solutions, which keeps me on my toes. An alcohol brand may want to address a totally different need than that of a personal care brand, which means I’m constantly thinking about what’s been done previously, so these brands can stand out, or claim a great audience within their category. I guess this is where being creative comes in. I do a lot of consumer and market trends analysis to help supplement our thinking and decision making for clients.
I would describe my job as thought-provoking, flexible and creative. No day is the same, partly because I work at an agency where you could be juggling three projects at once, so flexibility is valued.
What does a typical working day look like?
Typical working hours are from 9am to 5.30pm, sometimes a bit later, depending on the workload. I make sure to split work based on deadlines, doing the most urgent tasks first. That way we maintain our integrity in the eyes of our clients.
From around 7pm to 9pm, I do a few admin bits for my side-hustle, The Kusp, a creative social enterprise that helps diverse creatives from underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds to excel within the fashion, and film and television industry.
“Diversity of thought is important in my field of work. It would be boring if everyone just suggested the same thing.”
Can you tell us more about how The Kusp came about?
I realised with my previous ventures that the creative industry hasn’t been the best when it comes to diversity of talent. Recently, we’ve seen successes of BAME talent within the industry – with Virgil Abloh as men’s fashion director at Louis Vuitton, and successes like Moonlight, Get Out and Black Panther.
However, a lot of underprivileged people miss out on industry opportunities. It doesn’t just stop in the BAME community – women within film and television are often overlooked, and that certainly needs to change as well.
The Kusp aims to address that lack of representation by equipping these creatives with personalised advice, support and opportunities that’ll take them to the next level on their journeys. We do this all in collaboration with reputable brands like ASOS Marketplace, Eleven Film and more. Our aim is to produce intimate masterclasses but also share insights, news and updates with our digital community. We’re also working on a campaign to release just in time for the official launch in April 2019.
How did you land your current job?
Through the wonders of a cold email, literally. Early in 2017, I realised that I wanted to do something that involved brands. Coming from a civil engineering background, I wasn’t too sure how the branding and marketing industry worked and what you needed in order to get a foot in the door.
I emailed a contact on the Clear M&C Saatchi website in January but had no luck. I tried again in April; again, no luck. By this point, I had started a consulting intern role, which was more focused on market research and predominantly qualitative research, i.e. consumer group interviews and online communities.
Work for Wagamama on Clear M&C Saatchi’s website
After four months I left that role and tried again at Clear M&C Saatchi. Fortunately a project-assistant role was being vacated, so I got a phone interview. Later, I went in for face-to-face interview with a senior consultant and a strategy director, and then a follow-up interview where I gave two presentations – one on my favourite brands and the other on something more logistical. I got the job after that. I wouldn’t say this is a common route into the role, but it was certainly an interesting one.
How collaborative is your role?
The work is quite collaborative, as consultants tend to share thoughts and perspectives on potential solutions for clients, which makes it an interesting space to be in. Everyone has a different background – and diversity of thought is important in my field of work. It would be boring if everyone just suggested the same thing, talk about lack of creativity!
“This role is about thoughts and perspective. Being able to think outside the box, express that thinking and back it up.”
What has been the most exciting project of the last twelve months?
One of my first projects was with a reputable alcohol brand. Our task was to find out what type of drinking habits and behaviours Gen Z (18 to 24-year-olds) had developed. We needed to understand the dos and don’ts with this demographic, which led to drink-alongs (‘light’ drinking with consumers to analyse and determine on-trade behaviour) with a target market in Manchester across two days. A colleague and I made sure to ask necessary questions to capture valuable insight on why they do what they do. For my first project with the company, I think that was quite exciting.
I also was collaborated with our global marketing director on a thought piece focused on closing the experience gap within the banking industry. Pretty interesting read if you ask me, have a look.
Clear M&C Saatchi’s website
What skills are essential to your job?
A willingness to learn, being open-minded, confidence to express yourself and thoughts when necessary, and clear and concise communication is crucial.
Do you think it’s essential to have a higher education qualification to work in your role?
I think it helps, as to an extent, it shows that you can apply yourself. However, this role is about thoughts and perspective. Being able to think outside the box, express that thinking and back it up with facts, figures or relevant statements. I don’t see why you couldn’t get this role without a higher education qualification. As mentioned, a willingness to learn will do you a world of good within this industry.
What tools do you use most for your work?
Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by work, and if so, how do you manage stress? Definitely. My coping strategy tends to be connecting with friends who are in similar working environments. Sharing what you’re going can take a load off your shoulders. I also like to stay fit; playing football or going to the gym helps. Plus, completely cutting off connection with work during the weekend tends to help. I often get work emails sent to my phone – don’t do that, if you can help it.
“My upbringing gave me a perspective that some of my colleagues would have never encountered. In that sense, I’m proud of it.”
How I Got Here
What did you want to be growing up?
A professional footballer or a Power Ranger – the green one, he was elite.
What influence has your upbringing had on your work?
Massive. I grew up in South-East London during a period when gang culture was very high. I’ve lost friends due to it. Fortunately, football was my outlet, so I wasn’t caught up in it. Because of that, I’ve always felt a need to be a success in whatever I pursued.
Work-wise, my upbringing gave me a perspective that some of my colleagues would probably have never encountered. So in that sense, I’m proud of it.
Masterclass for University of the Arts London, 2018 (Taken by Muhammad Rusydi)
How (if at all) is the subject you studied useful to your current role?
Civil engineering requires you to make designs or conduct calculations that follow a certain pattern or method. Ultimately, those skills have transferred to this industry, as I’m always on the look out for patterns in things. That could be a drinks brand becoming more health-conscious or supermarkets stripping away plastic packaging. Seeing patterns can be valuable in predicting what the next trend is, which is important for brands who want to be ahead of the game
What were your first jobs?
My first job was in Waitrose in London. Even when I went to university in Portsmouth, for three years, I went to lectures during the week, and commuted back to London on Friday night to work Saturday and Sunday (a pay-and-a-half salary), before commuting back to Portsmouth on Sunday, so I could make my 9am lecture the following day. Mental, I know.
“I would suggest getting a mentor – one in your industry and one that isn’t.”
Was there anyone in particular project that helped your development?
My life has been hectic at times, so the mentors that advised me really helped my development. I would give them credit, and suggest getting a mentor – one in your industry and one that isn’t.
What skills have you learnt along the way?
Adaptability is a brilliant skill to have. Requirements can change in an instant and being able to change with it makes you valuable.
What would you say is your biggest ongoing challenge with your work and career?
Sometimes (particularly when you’re in a junior role) you may feel like you’re going by unheard. To that, I’d say just keep plugging away, and be unapologetically brilliant at what you’re good at. You’ll succeed in the end, and that notoriety will come.
A thought piece on Clear”s website by Amo and colleague Geraint
Words of Wisdom
What advice would you give to an emerging creative wanting to do the same kind of work?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, meet up with people and be inquisitive. If there’s a specific company you’d like to work for, or type of work you’d like to do, find a person you admire and ask them questions. Remember: even if that person hasn’t got a job for you, people know people, so they’ll be able to put you in touch with someone that does.
Also, be able to clearly demonstrate your diversity of thinking and experience with side projects, previous work or even university work. This industry needs new faces, new ideas and new innovations, if you’ve got that, there’s space for you.
Do you have any informative or inspirational resources you would recommend?
Firstly, I’d recommend checking out The Kusp if you’re interested in anything to do with fashion, film and television (cheeky plug!).
I love a good entrepreneurial biography, my favourite would be Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. Something more related to my industry, would be Eating The Big Fish by Adam Morgan, which looks at how challenger brands compete against brand leaders.