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A LOOK INTO THE LIFE OF AN ACCOUNT DIRECTOR

A Look into the Life of an Account Director

Olivia Ogilvie

Salt Lake Community College

Business 1010
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As I considered what career I wanted to explore for this assignment I struggle

trying to think of something that would interest me that I would also excel in. Previous to

this assignment I had no idea as to where I wanted to go with my life in the aspect of a

career. I sat down with my cousin who I am extremely close too and look up to. She

works for McCann advertising and suggested I look into a career choice in advertising.

This was never on my radar as something I would be interested in, however as I learned

more about this career I saw many things that I could be interested in.

I decided to explore in more detail the role of account director/manager in the

advertising world. Account directors work as a liaison of sorts between the business and

their clients. They work closely with their clients to determine the exact needs of the

client and to make sure that the company develops a product or service that will meet

those needs (Burgoyne 2010). They may have just one or multiple clients in their

portfolio at a time depending on the size of the company (Wetfeet 2012). This aspect of

the job really appeals to me, as I love to work with people. It is my favorite part of my

current job and something I know that I will need to look for in a career choice. Although

it could become stressful to be in charge of determining if the project is up to par, its a

challenge that I believe would push me each day to do my best.

Another role of the job is to create budgets; schedule meetings for each account,

enforce deadlines for the product and communicate the clients need and agenda to their

staff. It is also extremely important to convey any concerns that the client has (Burgoyne

2010). The account manager is in charge of making sure that the company meets the

clients advertising, marketing and public relations goals (Wetfeet 2012). It is obvious

that the role of account manager is not a minor one. They are the head of the account and
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they make sure that everything is running according to the clients wishes. I am a

generally anxious person and understanding the pressure that comes along with this title

is a small concern as to if I can handle that pressure. When it comes to work I am a

perfectionist of sorts, which could become a topic of concern if I were in this position.

Along with taking care of current clients, account managers often need to identify and

solicit new customer (Burgoyne 2010) making sales a part of the job as well. Ed

Burgoyne stated that, if you cant stand sales, dont go into account management (2010).

I have worked in sales before so I understand how this would be a part of the job. I do not

enjoy cold-sales which is not going to be much of an issue as an account manager.

Companies are constantly looking for a new and better way to advertise their product or

service. It comes down to proving that my agency is better than the rest. What I like about

the sales aspect of this career choice is the fact that the account manager maintains an

active role after the sale is completed (Burgoyne 2010). Once an account manager

convinces someone to join their team they would be overseeing that account and working

with them throughout. This goes back to my love of working with people. I believe that

this career path would lead to many relationships that could help with networking if ever

needed.

Travel is often a requirement of the job, when the account manager isnt in the

office they are traveling to meet with clients, oversee ad productions and attending

different events (Wetfeet 2012). This may be an issue for many people, however travel is

something that I look for in a career for myself.

There is a lot of stress that comes with the job of account manager. They are

required to work long hours especially as deadlines approach. The U.S. Bureau of Labor
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Statistics reported that about 40% of advertising managers worked more than 40 hours a

week (Study.com 2014). Along with the pressure of deadlines, account managers work is

directly correlated to the companys profits. Because of this they carry a lot of

responsibility and work extremely close with the executive teams (Burgoyne 2010).

The path to becoming a general manager is not an easy one. It takes work and

time to maneuver youre way up to the top. Tessa Karrington is currently working as a

senior account executive at McCann and explained to me the path to becoming an

account director. You start as an associate account executive which is the basic starting

position in advertising. It then goes to account executive, senior account executive (where

I am now), account supervisor, management supervisor and ending with account director

(2017). Previous to working for McCann, Karrington worked for Codale Electric on the

advertising team as the marketing manager. She has currently been employed at McCann

for just over two years and will be moving up to account supervisor this year. Education

is relative, depending on the agency, however a bachelors degree is required (Karrington

2017). In order to become an account director experience is a must. Usually an account

director has around 10 years of experience (Karrington 2017). With experience and being

able to demonstrate good performance it is possible to be promoted to account director

and with such experienced gained one could be hired on as account manager at a different

company (study.com 2014).

Although there is not a set requirement for degree level past that of a Bachelors

degree, there are certain employers who prefer a masters degree for someone holding the

account director position (Burgoyne 2010). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor

Statistics, there is strong competition for advertising directors expected for the decade of
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2012-2022 (study.com 2014). Obtaining a masters degree is just another way to stand out

from the competition. It is important to have a degree that includes public relations,

advertising, business or marketing. Having the responsibility of the entire clients

campaign on your shoulders is something that doesnt come without having prior

experience or knowledge in the field of business and marketing. Interpersonal skills,

organizational skills, writing skills, familiarity with desktop publishing and photo

imaging software are all crucial to the position (Burgoyne 2010). Receiving a bachelors

in such fields will lead to having the skills necessary to directing the different types of

advertising accounts.

Internships in advertising and public relations organizations open up many

different opportunities for more work experience (Karrington 2017). They contribute not

only to getting you acquainted with the industry but also allow for a lot of professional

growth and networking (study.com 2014).

The salary of an account director can vary from job to job and depending on the

skills of the person, it can also depend on the company size. The Beauru of Labor

Statistics reports that the median salary for advertising directors was around $82,370 in

May of 2009 (Burgoyne 2010). Ranging from $40,990 on the low end to upwards of

$165,000 per year. At McCann they can earn anywhere from $150-$200,000 a year

(Karrington 2017). They are responsible for bigger accounts such as Verizon Wireless and

Exxon Mobile, both accounts that Karrington works on (2017).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the employment for advertising

account directors is going to remain steady for the coming years (FloridaTech 2015). Job

growth is continuing as companies continue to find different ways to differentiate their


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products through advertising techniques. Finding an account directing job could be tough

due to competition- however job seekers with more advanced education will have an

advantage (FloridaTech 2015). Karrington let me know that accounts usually only stay

with an agency for around 3 years, although Verizon has been with McCann going on 12

years now, which is very unusual (2017). With the ever-shifting accounts there are

possibilities for the need to layoff people as things change. McCann just had a large

layoff of around 60 people, which is not unheard of in the advertising world (Karrington

2017). However when there is such a need, the account directors are never the first to go.

With the experience and knowledge to keep the accounts running they are held onto as

much as possible. With the advertising agency growing the outlook for this career seems

positive.

Lets look at Angela Hilton; shes the SVP and group account director for BKV

advertising with 25 years of experience. She started as associate account executive for the

Six Flags ad campaign 18 years ago and is now the account director for that account

along with multiple other accounts. She works in digital advertising, email marketing,

customer relationship management and web and mobile development. She works in

marketing for both B2C and B2B campaigns and has an emphasis on database

management and integrated campaigns (BKV 2017). She is the perfect example of

moving up in the industry. With years of experience she is able to bring her expertise to

multiple high priority clients.

With every job come many pros and cons, as it is with account directing. While in

the account management one is in charge of other people; which can be a pro and a con

(Hays 20). If you like leading people and are able to earn the respect of others this is
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something that is just another developmental part of the career. However managing

people can become extremely stressful. I currently manage a call center at a mortgage

company and know of the demand that comes from such a position. Drama runs high,

there are challenges and it comes with a lot of babysitting your team.

As discussed earlier, with the job of account director comes the need to sale and

market your service (Hays). If youre someone who likes to sell and can interact with

clients and potential clients this wont be a problem. However it can be extremely

difficult to be a leader and bring in business as well. I cant imagine trying to make calls

while I am trying to manage my team at work. It would add on a lot of stress.

A pro for me, that could be seen as a con for many would be the need for travel. I love the

idea of going to new places and frequently meeting new people. However for many

people travelling can be a grueling and frustrating task, especially if you have a family at

home.

There is a lot of responsibility that comes with such a job. This itself can be seen

as a con, however with higher responsibility comes a higher salary. Karrington says,

Agency life is so fun! It is work hard- play harder more than any career Ive seen.

Although there is a ton of stress with agencies it is never boring (2017). Usually with a

high stress job there isnt much of a fun outlet- however that doesnt seem to be a

problem in this field. There is plenty of time to have fun with clients, coworkers and

through different projects.

As I said previously, I truly never considered a career in this field. However after

learning more about it, I could definitely see myself as a future account director. I have

learned that account directors need to be detail oriented and organized which is
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something I use in my current job. I know that I would be able to handle managing others

as I have done it for over a year now. Communication may be a little more of a weakness

of mine and an area in which I have room to grow. It has been a pitfall in my current

position a few times- however a job in this field would force me to communicate which

would be helpful. I love the aspect of working so closely with so many different people

and being able to make so many different relationships. I know that I am good with

people and that I enjoy my time when I am interacting with others. I know I would

struggle with things such as projects not going as planned or if a client doesnt like my

teams work. I dont do well with confrontation or feeling like I messed up. Problem

solving skills are a must. I am grateful to this assignment because I feel like it has helped

me get started on a career path. This is a career I definitely want to explore and see if I

can handle it.


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Sources

Burgoyone , E. (2010, June 10). Account Director - Job Description (Simple). Retrieved

March 15, 2017, from http://adsubculture.com/account-

management/2010/6/15/account-director-job-description.html

How to Become an Account Manager: Education and Career Roadmap. (n.d.). Retrieved

April 10, 2017, from

http://study.com/articles/How_to_Become_an_Account_Manager_Education_and

_Career_Roadmap.html

F. (n.d.). Account Manager Career Job Outlook. Retrieved April 16, 2017, from

https://www.floridatechonline.com/blog/business/account-manager-career-job-

outlook/

PROS AND CONS OF BEING A SALES AND MARKETING MANAGER. (n.d.).

Retrieved April 20 , 2017, from http://www.hays.co.uk/features/HAYS_008575

Dorn, N. (n.d.). 16 Pros and Cons of Working at an Advertising Agency . Retrieved

March 30, 2017, from https://blog.filestage.io/pros-and-cons-of-working-at-an-

advertising-agency/

Editors, T. (2012, December 2). Career Overview: Account Management. Retrieved April

7, 2017, from https://www.wetfeet.com/articles/career-overview-account-

management

Account Management Career Discussion [Telephone interview]. (2017, April 15).


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B. (n.d.). Angela Hilton; SVP . Retrieved April 20, 2017, from

http://www.bkv.com/about-marketing-agency/people/angela-hilton/