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Meet The MD

Have resilience, take your holidays, and be 'an expert in people': Lessons from Ogilvy's MD

Victoria Day swapped a career in fashion for advertising and now she's md at Ogilvy. She talks us through her journey

By Avnie Bansal

Embedded in Victoria Day's CV is what she calls her 'superpower'. Now the managing director of Ogilvy UK, she's already worked her way through a career's-worth of roles, picking up expertise in everything from shopper marketing to driving new business.

Day joined Ogilvy UK in 2018 from adam&eveDDB, where she was the managing partner and handled, amongst other things, the award-winning Waitrose, Google, and Halifax accounts. At Ogilvy she has looked after the flagship Boots account, overseen the Cannes-winning Relate campaign, as well as the Sipsmith, and Post Office accounts. Oh, and as the Head of Account Management she was also a driving force behind training and D&I Initiatives, and team restructures. 

Day’s previously worked at Saatchi & Saatchi, FCB Inferno, and Elvis as well. But she actually started her career in Fashion before switching to advertising. So we asked Vic about how she started in adland, how her role has evolved at Ogilvy, and why she loves pitching.

Creative Salon: How would you describe your journey in the advertising industry?

Victoria: I’d describe it as a lot of fun and hard work in equal measure. I fell into advertising. I was working in fashion after university and had a friend who worked at an agency. Her job seemed more interesting than mine, so I applied for an Account Manager role and got it. Since then, I’ve worked at a real mixture of agencies, doing everything from POS and on-pack promotions to digital and TV and everything in between. I think that diversity of experience has been my superpower actually as clients need and want people in agencies who think about the brand and challenge first and foremost, not the channel.  

From the head of account management to MD, how has your role evolved?

I took on the Head of Account Management role at Ogilvy UK when we merged the various operating companies into one, so my role was about merging five different groups of account handlers from PR, social, advertising and experience into one cohesive unit. It was an administrative challenge, we had 16 different job titles being used, five different sets of job descriptions and review systems, all of which needed to be harmonised.

The great thing was that it quickly became apparent that for all the differences, there was an instinctive agreement about the spirit and behaviours that we all saw and wanted in a great account person. Of course, at the same time I was running pitches, managing the cost base, and overseeing pieces of business too. 

Moving into the MD role felt like a natural progression, my remit is larger and I have greater financial responsibilities, but fundamentally my role was and still is to create the conditions in which the team and their creativity can thrive. Sometimes that means getting stuck in on a pitch, or sorting out an operational issue, or working on the finances, but the objective is always the same.

Having been in the industry for more than a decade, what has been your biggest learning? 

Listen more, speak less. Everything you need to know about someone and how they feel and will react to a situation is there if you pay attention. Make yourself an expert in people.

What is the most essential quality to have as an agency leader?

Resilience. As anyone who has worked in the industry for more than five minutes knows, there are lot of ups and downs, and many a great idea that never makes it out into the world as a fully fledged ad. Accept that, dig in and you can throw yourself into every day with the same level of energy. 

Oh and take all of your holiday and don’t work every weekend, it’s about the quality of your contribution, not how many hours you rack up. Fiona Gordon, my boss, is such a great role model for this, she works so hard is so, so committed and full of positive energy, and she takes time out to go on fabulous holidays or to hang out with her god children. That’s good leadership. 

To date, what work are you most proud of?

Our Mayor of London work is something I’m extremely proud of. It’s a perfect example of Ogilvy UK at its best, fusing behavioural science, PR, social and advertising skills to create something that is part of the cultural conversation and has had a tangible impact on the issue of violence against women.

You’ve worked in new business, how do you think pitching has changed over the years? And do you still enjoy the process? 

I love pitching, ‘the tyranny of the blank page’ and working towards finding ‘the’ answer is still a thrill. I think like many in the industry, I do feel that clients owe it to everyone involved to approach pitching in a fair and moral way that recognises the enormous effort and cost involved. The task set should be commensurate with the scope.  

What’s your favorite part of the job?

Working with my team. I love the alchemy that bringing different types of people and skills together creates. Also, I’m a knowledge magpie, I love learning about new things and being challenged intellectually and this is a job that gives me that constant stimulation.

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

Do it! And don’t worry if you aren’t a graduate, or you are looking for a change of career, there are so many ways in and different roles. We take more and more apprentices on every year at Ogilvy UK across creative, account management, strategy and production, and finance and that is a fantastic way to come into the agency world I think, as it lets you get practical, paid experience and enables you to try out different clients and roles.

And finally, where do you draw your inspiration from? 

I am a very ‘busy’ person, I love being out and about and doing and seeing new things; restaurants, gigs, books, exhibitions, and films. I get a lot of energy from that. I think ultimately my inspiration comes from the team around me, I want to be good at my job for them and with them.


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