The general manager on why she believes opportunities need to be looked for carefully and her frustrations with pitches
Following on from her role as BBDO Singapore’s client services director, at the start of 2021 Monica Hynds was announced as the agency’s general manager. Her career has taken her from her native Jakarta to Singapore where she worked for Ogilvy and JWT before joining the BBDO Singapore team in 2020. When Monica’s placement was announced she promised the agency had a ‘big comeback’ in store. To hear more about this and her thoughts on Singapore creativity and why she finds pitches frustrating, LBB’s Natasha Patel caught up with Monica to hear more.
LBB> When you were appointed for the role last year you mentioned BBDO has a 'big comeback in store'. Tell us more!
Monica> Generally, it has been quite a rollercoaster ride for the industry over the past few years. With agencies merging capabilities, transforming themselves to be ahead of competition, going into a more specialised area and so forth.
It is pretty similar to what BBDO has been doing, we make sure we are equipped for the future, and this means we have been working hard re-evaluating, re-adjusting and redefining ourselves as an agency. When I mentioned we have a big comeback in store, for us, this means coming out with much better and more holistic solutions for our clients, no matter which industry they are from.
Our offerings will be shaped and designed to meet our clients’ needs. We will attract different types of clients compared to whom you have seen in the past. The types that want to future proof themselves and to have commercial creativity that speaks to the audiences in this era.
LBB> I know you began your career in Jakarta, what was it like moving from there across to Singapore and how did you adapt creatively?
Monica> The pace was very different, and I noticed that right away. It was, honestly, a struggle the first few months, but you get the hang of it after a while. I do like what I do, so in the end, it came quite naturally. The mindset needs to change more than anything, and you have to be able to tell yourself that this is my new normal and you’ve got to give it your best, otherwise you won’t know what you are capable of.
It is also important to have strong support around you to push you forward, whether it is your family and/or friends. It can be quite lonely working overseas where everything is so foreign and different.
LBB> I love how you're passionate about 'pushing boundaries', tell us more and are there any examples of this that you can share?
Monica> The signs when you are off to something great are: When an idea makes you uncomfortable, but you know you can’t wait to tell your friends about it. I vividly remember our experience working on a project for HSBC back in 2017 called ‘Choose What You Love’. We created something interesting, never been done before for their credit card range.
The team had big ambitions - ones which raised lots of eyebrows – and we pushed hard for it, no matter what everyone said. We knew we were off to something great and our clients supported us 100%. In the end, the campaign gave the agency deserving awards from within our industry as well as from the finance/banking space which tells us that great ideas are worth fighting for.
One thing I’d like to share is that we need our clients to push boundaries together with us so we can achieve something great, together. This does not work one way and I believe when two passionate teams coming together, we can achieve anything.
LBB> What were your biggest lessons from the early days in your career?
Monica> You’ve got to believe in yourself to do the right thing. Even if you are not sure, listen to your gut feeling. Get out early from toxic situations and you ALWAYS have a choice. Trust me, when you raise your hands, people will support you.
LBB> What excites you about Singapore's creative scene and where do you see it going in the future?
Monica> Singapore is a strategic hub for a lot of agencies like BBDO and for our clients, so the work that we do here transcends across the globe.
This means we need to constantly be creative to develop work that can be accepted by different audiences. And the result is different for different projects. We need to wear different creative hats and this is exciting. Our work will never be one dimensional and boring, but rather colourful, insightful and quite universal.
LBB> What excites you about the industry right now and what frustrates you?
Monica> We still have a role to play within the clients’ ecosystem and we are working with industries that we never thought of a few years ago. We constantly need to upgrade ourselves, learn new things every day from our clients and vice versa. There are lots of opportunities still, you just need to look carefully and you will find them.
Our frustration still lies in pitches. We all understand the importance of it, I just wish there was another way where both the client and agency are rewarded equally. It should be a win-win and we do want to deliver our best to our clients.
LBB> Outside of advertising, what inspires you?
Monica> Perseverance & Resilience: Life is not easy, every one of us has our stories. It knocks us down and drives us backwards. But when people decide that they won’t let that stop them, when they pick themselves back up and move forward towards their dreams and goals – that’s inspiring!
Leadership: Great leaders bring something to the table that you sometimes can’t put your finger on. Their passion, trust, respect, and ability to bring people together and get them to work towards a common goal is amazing. I’ve seen a few amazing leaders throughout my career and I hope to see/work with more.