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The Art of Account Management: Being Curious and Having a Learner Mindset with Shannon Reed

30/06/2023
Advertising Agency
Los Angeles, USA
147
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THE FIFTH's vice president of accounts and operations on being a Type A ultra organised person, transparent communication and working with Fox

Shannon Reed serves as THE FIFTH's vice president of accounts and operations. As THE FIFTH expands into the U.S. market, she is responsible for developing and managing the local client roster and is passionate about establishing professionalism around the evolving creator space. With 12+ years of deep agency experience from Droga to 72andSunny, she has worked on powerhouse consumer brands like smartwater, American Express,  Bacardi, Samsung, Google, eBay and Dropbox. Launching first of its kind global hardware and software like Google Home and Tinder Swipe Night.

 

LBB> How did you first get involved in account management and what appealed to you about it?

Shannon> I interned at a lot of ad agencies in college and was really drawn to the account management team after working in traffic and project management. What I really love about account management is that you are truly the centre of the wheel. You get to work with every internal and external group and throughout the entire process from strategy to creative to production. 


LBB> What is it about your personality, skills and experience that has made account management such a great fit?

Shannon> I am definitely a Type A ultra organised person which helps for account management. But, I think personality traits like being curious and having a learner mindset are really important to be a great account manager. It helps orient you toward helping make anything happen. 


LBB> What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting their career in account management?

Shannon> Ask questions. A lot of processes and management stays consistent for different types of projects. So make sure you understand how everything works. It also allows you to know what parts of the project are mandatory to create great work and what parts you can change based on the project. Having a mentor that you can go to and bounce things off of is super helpful, doesn’t have to be someone very senior but just someone you can go to a level or two above you to help you work through issues can help you get to solutions faster. 

 

LBB> Thinking back to some of your most challenging experiences you’ve had in your career, what do you think tends to lie at the heart of the more tense or difficult client-agency relationships?

Shannon> Just like most relationships, client-agency tension comes from communication or lack thereof. I think clear, consistent and transparent communication helps build trust. Trust builds fantastic relationships that allow a client-agency team to make work that has never been done before. 


LBB> And what are the keys to building a productive and healthy relationship?

Shannon> Transparency, feedback, regular communication. It also helps to ask in the beginning about clients' communication styles. Are they a group that loves texting and whatsapp? Or are they an email culture or do they really want to chat on their commute everyday. Understanding HOW they like to communicate helps build that productive and healthy relationship. 


LBB> What’s your view on disagreement and emotion - is there a place for it and if not, why not? If so, why - and what does productive disagreement look like?

Shannon> Disagreement and emotion are a part of the process. In doing work that is new or hard, disagreements and emotions will often come up. It's not about whether it happens, it's how you manage when it happens. This is where the trust and communication that you’ve been building in the relationship helps to alleviate tension and allow you to come together to find a solution. I think the best piece of advice I give is that when the emotion and disagreement happens, walk away. Give everyone a couple minutes or if you can, a night. Come back to it with a fresh mind the next day. It will automatically feel less tense and you will have a more solution oriented approach. 


LBB> Historically, account management has been characterised as the mediator in an adversarial client and creative relationship - what do you make of that characterisation, is there any nugget of truth in that or is it wildly inaccurate?

Shannon> I think it's often true. We as account managers are often the clients first point of contact – often bridging their two worlds. But I think some of the best strategists and creatives I’ve worked with help with mediation. They are true listeners so they can help listen between the lines and find solutions in the room versus just waiting for you to figure it out. Often the work comes out stronger than it did going into that conversation. 


LBB> These days, agencies do so much beyond traditional campaigns and as account management you’re pulling together creative, experience, data, e-commerce, social and more - and that complexity can often be mirrored on the client stakeholder side too? What’s the key to navigating (and helping the client navigate) that complexity?

Shannon> Approaching business with a learner mindset is so helpful here. You don’t know what you don’t know. So make sure that you ask how all these groups work together in advance, find out what they need, how they work together and how you can best support them. Often, asking in advance saves you a ton of time and deliverables on the backend. 


LBB> What recent projects are you proudest of and why? What was challenging about these projects from an account management perspective and how did you address those challenges? What was so satisfying about working on these projects?

Shannon> Really proud of our latest work for Fox. It was really creative work that allowed the creators we partnered with to shine and show their true selves. It was quirky and fun and maybe a little bit weird. But just delightful and entertaining. We worked with the creators and the Fox team to protect the time for the creators to have time to ideate and create so the content came out well. I think for me the most satisfying part is the partnerships we built as a team and with the creators throughout the journey. That partnership allows us to take on the next thing with confidence. 


Credits
Work from THE FIFTH Agency
ALL THEIR WORK