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My Biggest Lesson: Becky McOwen-Banks

With over 17 years advertising experience, Becky opens up with LBB to discuss the biggest lesson she has learned over her career

My Biggest Lesson: Becky McOwen-Banks

Becky McOwen-Banks is a creative director with over 17 years advertising experience of nurturing, building and running award-winning creative departments, whilst creating and pitching all manner of impactful creative. She has worked across the client mix and in new business opportunities, from multi-platform to digital innovation, having gathered a few awards to her name along the way.

Becky believes in the power of creative thinking, creative problem solving and creative leadership to change a business. Her curiosity and ambition continues as a scholarship-winning eMBA student at Berlin School of Creative Leadership.

Here, she opens up with LBB to discuss the biggest lesson she has learned over her career.


LBB > Is there one event / piece of wisdom from your career that's always stayed with you? What is it?

Becky > Your voice is a valuable as anyone else’s. Trust your intuition and use your intellect.


LBB > Set the scene! How old were you when you learned this insight, where were you working, how long had you been there, what year was it, what was your role and how were you feeling generally about your career at this point?

Becky > It was my first full-time role as art director having made the move to Australia. I’d been with the agency probably about a month. It was a late night working on a pitch - the final push before the presentation the next day. We were mounting up and talking through the work and how to stitch the presentation story together. The client was monster.com (we later won the business and did the full build and brand launch for Aus) and there was a piece of work in the mix that I just wasn’t happy with.

The tone was just off. To me it felt arrogant - my partner (a senior writer) said it was fun. I’d shut up and kept schtum because, well I was the new girl, I was an A.D (and worst of all) I was a Brit - what did I know. Anyway it was well into the wee hours and I was mounting the work with CJ - this piece came up, she saw may face as I was scalpelling the edges (yep - that old-skool!). Before the piece went into the rack she stopped me and asked my opinion. I told my thinking, that how it was currently worded we ran the chance of skewing the tone and putting more people off this new brand than drawing people to us. Basically I thought this was a problem - but I had an alternative thought so we wouldn’t be a spot down.

I shared my thinking and the new line. At 2am. The morning we pitch.

Long story short - she agreed. Killed the old visual, literally - cracked the board in half an binned it. Then told me to get on with doing the right work for the spot. Leaving me with: "Your voice is a valuable as anyone else’s. Trust your intuition and use your intellect - just try doing it sooner next time” as she left the cutting room.

 
LBB > Why do you think it struck such a chord?

Becky > She was the first female creative director I had met. Ever. In two years of me working in the UK and Australia. Suddenly the path became more vocal, visible, more fun, more curious - and certainly one that there didn’t need to be a pattern to fit in to.


LBB > How did it change you as a person and in your career?

Becky > I became more confident in my own decisions. Developed a stronger sense of self and (even if I hated doing it) learnt to put my ideas forward and ensure they also were heard.

 
LBB > And as you’ve progressed in your career, how have you re-evaluated this piece of advice?

Becky > Golly I think of CJ often. She was an amazing, fun, intelligent, slightly daft but hugely respected leader that enabled great work. Something I aim to be every day!


LBB > Is this insight or piece of advice something you now share with other – if so, how do they respond to it?

Becky > I have spent most of my career telling girls and anyone from non-traditional adland that this amazing industry is for them. That they have a voice. That it is only with them and their views, brains and personality on board that this amazing and brilliant industry will survive and excel.


- Becky McOwen-Banks, ECD, VaynerMedia

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