Creative Lives — Hannah Rea, Account Manager at NB Studio
Account manager Hannah Rea is the bridge between NB Studio and its impressive roster of clients. She handles the day-to-to running of a project and makes sure the agency is meeting all of the brand’s needs. Recently she’s worked with SOAS, Almeida Theatre and Pernod Ricard, including creating the packaging for a limited-edition Glenlivet whisky inspired by secret codes. Hannah studied marketing, but following an internship at Carter Wong Design, she made the move into the design world and hasn't looked back. “I love my job and there is so much variety that it would never be the same forever,” she says.
Account Manager, NB Studio (2015–present)
SOAS, Blake, More, Pernod Ricard, Almeida Theatre
Account Manager, The Oldham Goddard Experience (2014–2015)
Account Executive, Carter Wong Design (2012–2014)
BA Marketing, University of Liverpool (2009–2012)
Inside NB’s London studio
How would you describe what you do?
My role within NB is very varied. I work closely with creative directors Nick and Alan to run projects within the studio, as well as working on new business with strategists Dan and Tom, which involves pitching, meetings and proposals. I work with account manger Tom and studio manager Saphira to schedule resources within the studio and keep things on track. I also work with the creative team on client projects and delivering everything we’ve promised.
What does a typical working day look like?
An average working day consists of meetings, catch-ups, emails, calls and preparing proposals and presentations. Time is allocated depending on priority and deadlines. An ideal working day is when everything in the diary goes as planned but a typical one is slightly more chaotic with the occasional overrunning meeting or change to a deadline.
The majority of my work takes place at the studio. We have a lot of meetings and at particular points in a project we’ll spend quite a bit of time with a client outside of the studio. We all love the NB space though, so it’s always nice to be here. I’d say I spend about three quarters of the day in front of the computer and the rest in meetings, catch-ups and out and about.
How collaborative is your work?
My role is completely collaborative. Internally I work with the whole team (creative directors, strategists, designers, other account managers, studio management and interns). NB is particularly keen on collaborating with experts too, so I get to work with illustrators, photographers, filmmakers, copywriters and everything in between. And then in terms of clients, I work with everyone from brand managers to founders and communications directors. My role involves collaboration in every aspect, which is part of the reason I love it.
“There aren’t any strict qualifications for account management – it’s a sink or swim career.”
What are the most and least enjoyable aspects of your job?
The most enjoyable aspects of my job are the constant change (new clients, new briefs), working with creative people, learning new things and meeting new people. The least enjoyable aspects are few and far between but they tend to be the more mundane bits, like Excel timesheets and invoicing schedules. Stress tends to be quite low – the NB team are quick and our clients are friendly.
What has been the most exciting project of the last twelve months?
It has to be working on the limited-edition packaging for The Glenlivet Cipher. I worked with creative director Alan Dye and designer Olly St John, as well the brand team at The Glenlivet. I helped to manage the process from proposal to launch. Production was tricky, as we were printing black on black, but we got there and it has been very well received.
What skills are essential to your job?
Like most jobs, my role is about an eagerness to learn and a willingness to get stuck in. It helps to be a good listener, as well as a good talker. Also to write everything down and be optimistic.
What tools do you use most for your work?
A Mac or Macbook Air for presentations, emails, spreadsheets and invoicing; Mail; Excel; Keynote; Word; Workflowmax; Calendar and a Moleskine notebook.
Inside NB Studio
How I Got Here
How (if at all) is the subject you studied useful to your current role?
My degree in marketing definitely applies to my role – often design, branding, communications and marketing all marry up. We often work with marketing teams, so although I don’t have lots of marketing experience, it helps to recognise a few bits and pieces from university.
What were your first jobs?
My first job out of university was an account executive role at Carter Wong Design. I did an internship with them in the summer of my second year. It was my first experience of the design industry and I loved it. It was the first time I could see that my personal attributes (being organised, chatty and inquisitive) were useful in a work environment.
What skills have you learnt along the way?
I’ve learnt the value of communicating and articulating your thinking – this applies to almost every aspect of account management. I’ve learnt the value of clear and concise communication at NB and it’s helped me no end.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge has been eagerness versus experience. There aren’t any strict qualifications for account management – it’s a sink or swim career. There’s a fine balance between being eager and having the right level of experience. I’ve made mistakes where I thought I knew what I was doing, but that’s just taught me to be really open about everything. Now I try to share my work and get everyone’s input. Fortunately I’m surrounded by lots of experienced and open people.
Is the job what you thought it would be?
Yes. From my first internship it’s been about getting involved, constantly learning and working as a team.
NB’s work for The Glenliver Cypher, for which Hannah worked with creative director Alan Dye and designer Olly St John, as well the client’s brand team
What would you like to do next?
I have no idea. I love my job. Account management teaches you a lot about a lot of different things so it’s hard to know what you’ll be involved in next.
Could you do this job forever?
Yes. There is so much variety that it would never be the same forever.
What do you feel is the natural career progression for someone in your current position?
Becoming an account director, head of account management or something similar, but account management gives you lots of transferable skills, so there are lots of opportunities.
Words of Wisdom
What advice would you give to a young creative wanting to become an account manager?
Everyone can do account management; it’s about an eagerness to learn and a willingness to get stuck in. Listen well, ask lots of questions, write everything down and stay optimistic.
This article is part of our In the Studio With feature on NB Studio.