meet the md
What it's like to be MD of AMV: "It felt rather special for a Romanian to feel so cheered"
Carmen Vasile on her journey to the managing directorship at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
30 November 2022
Carmen Vasile joined AMV in 2007, leading Mars Petcare globally. Under her leadership, Mars Petcare, in partnership with BBDO, has transformed its creative work across over 70 markets.
More recently, she's also taken on leadership of the agency's Essity account while still being the Global Lead for Mars within the network. Carmen's passion for innovation and creativity led her to be recognized by Campaign as EMEA Account Lead of The Year in 2020.
She was rewarded for her hard work and commitment in February this year and promoted to managing director of AMV. We caught up with Carmen to talk about her work on some of AMV's most prestigious and accoladed accounts, and what her new responsibilities entail.
You started your career in Romania and have worked on Mars across multiple markets - how does the UK market compare?
It felt the same but also different …
The same because when you work on global brands, you get to uncover meaningful fundamental human truths that resonate with people wherever they are in the world. The (creative) execution might be different, but at the end of the day, the work delivers against the same creative brand platform and answers the same consumer ‘why’.
This is one of the reasons why I have always loved to work on global accounts. You get to work on huge brands that engage with tens of millions of people worldwide, and no matter how diverse the cultures where you execute, the tightest brands always ladder up to the same consumer insight and the same creative brand platform.
It felt different from Romania, for sure. A more established market, more structured, more settled in the way things were done, which contrasted with the emerging nature of the industry back home and the mindset that anything is possible, and corners can be cut in the pursuit of a better, faster output.
Fifteen years on… Whilst I know that great performance is underpinned by well-oiled operational structures, I will still try one or two things differently – cannot quite get it out of my system.
You run Mars Petcare globally - what piece of work are you most proud of?
This has always been a tough question as, together with our partners at Mars, we are getting out there many ideas that create mutual value in new, progressive ways.
Pedigree®’s Rescue Doodle, by BBDO New York, leverages artificial intelligence, turning your kid’s dog doodle into an adoptable family pet, while MyHooman, by Colenso BBDO, is one-of-a-kind pet adoption platform that finds and matches you with the right furry friend for you. Also, delighted with some of the very recent work by the home team in AMV, including the support we’ve been giving to cat parents through the smart Whiskas® Ask the Cats, and our first foray into NFTs as part of the Sheba® Hope Reef campaign, to help amplify our coral restoration efforts.
And truth be told, I was extremely proud of the team’s recognition at Cannes this year for Sheba Hope Reef. And the fact that we managed to get the team there in the nick of time to lift the two Grands Prix at the Palais felt extra special.
You've been MD for coming up to a year - has it been what you expected and what things surprised you?
I expected many things to be the same – clients, people, work, revenue - and they were, but as you are dealing with all of it at an agency-wide scale, everything is so connected, it feels like a giant Jenga.
But there were quite a few things that positively surprised me.
First was the wonderful support of everyone in AMV and how they are rooting for me. I was at home with Covid when Sam announced me in the Agency Meet, and even if I wasn’t there, the cheer that I could hear through the Teams link was incredible. It felt rather special for a Romanian to feel so cheered by the incredible creative institution called AMV. Nearly one year on, I still feel the same support as I did that afternoon
Second, how little you know about the day you are about to have. As I come to talk about this later, I do not like ‘typical’, and I love the adrenaline that comes with the unknown, but I felt like my head had been in a giant washing machine for the first months until I started to get a handle on how to deal with it all.
And finally, Sam. I didn’t know the guy. And whilst you always wish you get along, you never quite know. He has been the best possible surprise in terms of a work partner.
How do you balance being MD with running some of the agency's biggest and most prestigious accounts?
I call it ‘brilliant people and the 10 per cent rule’.
We are blessed in AMV with utterly talented people, so I do not get in their way.
Whether the account or the agency at large, I am focussed on the 10 per cent that propel us forward and the 10 per cent that might get us into trouble.
And, of course, life is not perfect, and you have mad days when bad news falls one after the other. When such days occur, I take it one by one, working my way from the bad news with the highest impact for the agency all the way down… And as the sun sets on those days, the best remedy is a cuddle from my son. I know, so cliché, but it works wonders.
How would you describe your typical day?
I love the creative industry because it minimizes the typical and whilst I have all the standard meetings one would expect, I love the excitement and adrenaline that come from dealing with everything new.
That said, my week is built on ensuring that I/we max out on human interaction when everyone is in the office – Tuesday through Thursday – and dealing with the rest on Monday and Friday.
And probably my favourite engagement of the month is with the new joiners. It’s like a new date, you get so much energy from learning about everyone and their stories, and it feels fresh, and you leave those meetings with a spring in your step thinking of the possibility.
What advice would you have for people wanting to be MD?
I would offer the same advice as David Abbott had in his leaving speech – care for one another and when you do that brilliantly, everything else takes care of itself, including the work.
Caring for one another means providing clarity on where careers are heading and ensuring that everyone has clear career development plans. It offers peace of mind.
Caring for one another ensures that everyone is supported across any major life change.
It offers comfort and reassurance that no one is alone.
Caring for one another also means wanting to spend time with one another. An internal culture that you want to be part of and belong to.
Caring for one another means developing a diverse and inclusive culture where everyone feels heard and ‘at home’.
And when you do care for one another both as professionals and human beings, people are bold to try new things and innovate because they feel safe and secured to do the best work of their lives.
What do you want your next career move to be?
I am very happy in my current role, and still have a road ahead. I am not sure yet if I want to be the CEO of the AMV office or the network ;) I am still thinking.