Meet The MD

What It's Like To Be MD Of BMB: "Prioritisation is a key skill"

Claudia Wallace thinks that an ability to juggle, adapt and evolve are essential attributes for any MD

By Avnie Bansal

Claudia Wallace, managing director of BMB, cut her advertising teeth as a WPP Fellow, working across three continents: Europe, Asia, and North America.

A GenZ supporter, a mother, and an agency leader, she believes prioritisation is a key skill for any managing director - as well as seizing every opportunity that presents itself.

We caught up with her to learn about her life behind the scenes. 

Creative Salon: How did you get into advertising?

I was very fortunate to start on WPP's Fellowship program during which I got to spend three years in three countries at three different WPP agencies doing three distinct roles. I started in account management at what was then RKCR/Y&R then went to Mediacom in Singapore then spent a year as a digital strategist at Possible in New York. Getting to experience the agency ecosystem from such different angles so early on taught me so much including the huge value of successful agency collaboration. The mindset of knowing that you're only going to be in a role for a year was interesting too, I've tried everything since to hold onto that sense of urgency to pack as much into each year as possible.

Who is your favourite client to have worked with and why?

I loved working with Chanel. Obviously, it’s an incredibly iconic and creatively ambitious brand but a stand-out perk of the job was getting to go to the Chanel sample sales in Paris. The brands I tend to gravitate towards, from my first ever client M&S Food at RKCR/Y&R to most recently, Freenow, are the ones that embrace a truly collaborative creative partnership.

What’s the most challenging thing you have had to do in the three years of being an MD at BMB?

Most MDs will tell you this, but there is a lot to juggle in this job, across client leadership, new business, PR and marketing, DE&I and mental health initiatives, agency operations, and supporting and managing people. Prioritization is a key skill for any managing director. Because BMB has grown so much over the past 18 months, I’ve also been focused on ensuring our culture stays strong, everyone feels supported, and that we’re continually adapting and evolving our processes and ways of working.

Tell us about that one thing you’d like to change about the advertising industry.

I’d like the industry to put the younger generation more front and centre because we’ve a lot to learn from them. We have worked with Samsung to set up their Future Gen Lab program globally and across Europe, looking at ways of engaging Gen Z employees, and using their insights to inform brand marketing and communications. This is how we enable brands to connect more deeply with younger consumers.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I’m always listening to podcasts, on my commute, and as a pal accompanying me around the house when I’m not running around after my two-year-old daughter Suki. My favourite ones, tend to focus on big society transforming ideas and how to make them happen practically such as Ed Miliband’s ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful’ or the stories of ridiculously inspirational people who have made incredible things happen such as ‘Annie Mac’s Changes’.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

As I’ve mentioned, juggling the many different facets of this job can be challenging but, at the same time, it offers so much variety that it’s impossible to be bored. I love the fact that I’m always working on something different or thinking about how to do something differently. It’s also been incredibly rewarding to get to work with brands like Breast Cancer Now, who are doing important, life-changing work and enable us as an agency to launch breakthrough creative ideas.

What do you want your next career move to be?

Right now I’m nine months pregnant with my second daughter, so she’ll definitely be dictating my immediate plans. Luckily, in my job, I have the support to get back to work as soon as I’m ready.

What advice would you have for someone wanting to get into the industry?

Mentorship has been hugely important to me over my career and I’m currently in the process of developing a mentorship scheme at BMB. Getting mentors in your life is key, but anyone starting out should know that you still have to do the work and put yourself out there.

I was lucky enough to have the legendary Jeremy Bullmore as my mentor since I started my career. When we first met, he told me: “No one cares about your career as much as you do. Get in touch with me as much as you want and I’ll always reply, but I’ll never contact you.” I’ve never forgotten that. My message to anyone coming up is to throw everything you have at every opportunity that comes your way, even if you don‘t think you’re qualified or don’t have enough experience. Ultimately, it’s down to you to make it happen. Oh and finally, make sure you read all of Jeremy's incredible wisdoms.


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