Ruth Haffenden – Managing Partner @ The Works, part of Capgemini


1. Before we dive into your role at The Work (part of Capgemini) , what has your career journey looked like so far?

I’ve always been agency-side. I’ve spent over 13 years now on a mission to collect skills across all disciplines.

After leaving uni with a degree in criminal psychology, I talked my way into an entry level 

role with an independent travel PR agency in London. The learning curve was steep but I got to travel the world and hone my craft at the same time. It also coincided with the emergence of social media and influencer marketing (I am showing my age now!) which I quickly became an advocate for with both clients and the agency. The agency backed me to run with it as a new service area and I didn’t really look back from there.

Nearly five years later I left to take up a social media director role at Mindshare, where the focus shifted from driving earned conversations, to creating and amplifying paid ones as part of the integrated media buying mix. Going from a 50 person agency to WPP was an absolute trip, but the atmosphere was always electric. 

With some huge brands and famous campaigns under my belt, I took up an opportunity for a global role, with independent content marketing agency King Content, and a relocation to sunny Sydney. I lived and breathed content marketing for the next four years, growing the business into new regions and moving from global Head of Social to Head of Strategy to General Manager. 

During my time at King Content I worked closely with a creative agency called The Works on a shared account, Optus. So when they asked me to jump over and join them to develop an integrated social and content offering I was all over it. 

Nearly five years on, the social and content offering is thriving and multi-award winning and I sit on the senior leadership team alongside the founding partners driving the holistic business forwards.

2. Transitioning into work, what the heck does a Managing Partner @ The Works, part of Capgemini?

What is The Work, part of Capgemini?

The Works, part of Capgemini is an award-winning creative agency, our purpose is to deliver brand journeys that are worthy of attention. We do this via services in brand and advertising, social and content, CRM and acquisition, and digital experience. 

What does your role entail specifically?

No two days are the same, but in essence my role is to drive both economic and creative growth for the agency, its clients and staff. 

That could mean:

  • Working with clients to deliver on their strategic and creative goals
  • Leading opportunities for new business to enter the agency
  • Developing new services or processes to meet evolving client needs
  • Being out in industry growing our reputation
  • Making decisions on where we should or shouldn’t spend money in order to grow
  • Spending time with our amazing people and building the culture which powers all these things.

3. What’s an example of a campaign that you’ve worked on and what was your role in bringing it to life?

Campaign Name: Now is the time to love NSW

What was it?

Following droughts and bushfires Destination NSW (and the 1 in 3 NSW businesses which underpin it) were suffering significantly.

In order to make domestic audiences aware that regional areas are open, safe to visit and in need of support, an earned media campaign was developed which put locals in charge of the content creation. Leaning on a sense of national pride to move the conversation from crisis to recovery.

Using DNSWs network of tourism organisations, business owners and well known Australians we put the call out for local people, local businesses and local influencers far and wide to capture content and promote it on their social channels for the campaign “Now is the time to love NSW”

At a time when even the least patriotic amongst us felt a sense of duty to help rebuild, the sentiment was spot on, with DNSW quickly generating up to 5k pieces of UGC every single day, each pulling into an aggregated map – showing the world just how many places were still open and welcoming tourism. For added attention we even projected the incoming UGC onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge to encourage further participation and awareness.

What was your role?

My role was in ensuring that:

  • The idea was on strategy for the client with a campaign and long term lens
  • The solution was integrated across channels and in mind of latest best practice
  • An attribution plan was in place to prove it’s return on investment
  • The team was supported enough to present the idea to the client in a way that was easy to buy
  • The idea moved into execution in a way that was time and cost effective for both parties (whilst being mindful the team had enough time to creatively exceed expectations)

4. For those who are curious about a career in a creative agency, what do the entry level pathways look like?

The creative and communication industries have tried pretty hard to throw out the rule book on hiring in recent years, looking away from traditional pathways in order to inject more diversity of thinking into their work. So although a degree in a related field would still be looked on favourably in some areas, you’re just as likely to be hired for making amazing TikToks, for the blog you’ve been writing since university or following the internship where you blew everyone’s socks off.

What entry level roles are available at The Works?

All sorts! Alongside paid internships we take entry level candidates in every department, from strategy and creative to digital, CRM and project management.

A number of our most successful people first joined us as interns many moons ago. The Works is very much a place where there is limitless growth potential if you hit the ground running. 

What about the rest of the industry?

Entry level roles exist at pretty much every creative agency, though they can be hugely competitive. Getting an internship is a great way to get a foot in the door and some experience under your belt. I’d also expand your thinking outside of agencies; these days many big brands and publishers have huge internal capabilities /  “internal agencies” that have a massive amount to offer young talent.

5. What one thing you recommend someone who’s curious about working in a creative agency do right now?

Immerse yourself in the industry above the theory

Sign up to all the trade publication newsletters and free virtual or in person events you possibly can – globally, follow agencies and brands across their social channels. You will quickly form an opinion on what it’s like to work in marketing, the latest and greatest work, you’ll get exposure to the way people think and you’ll start to form your own opinions. Not only will it help you decide if you do want to pursue a career in this industry, you’ll be on your way to a home run in your first interview.

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