Account Coordinator
DDB - San Francisco, CA

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It might surprise you to know that we try not to hire senior account people from outside the Agency. Look around, you’ll realize most of our senior account people were at one time jr. account people. We have high hopes that every AC will learn and grow to be an account executive, manager, director and group account director.

What this means is that at the AC level, we are looking for more than just a warm body to perform the nuts and bolts the job requires. Yes, much of the AC job is this -- the billing, the budget tracking, the meeting prep, the status reports, the meeting notes. But time and time again, AC success is found not in the ability to do these things, but in the attitude of the person doing them. At the AC level, it’s all about attitude.

A great Account Coordinator…

1) Takes pride in what they do.

We look for you to have a strong sense of pridein the way you work. No matter how big or small the project, we expect that you see things through to the best of your ability. Simply put, you care about what you do. While it may sound obvious, if we had to pick one trait that defines whether someone is going to be successful here, it’s probably this. Pick any account person, at any level, who is doing well and ask “do they make things their own and do they make it personal?” Inevitably the answer is yes.

We look for those who go beyond “punching in and punching out” each day. If you think of yourself as merely a cog, you will likely be a cog. But we are asking for something different. We are asking, even if it’s in small ways at first, that you see yourself as a contributor. This means having a strong sense of ownership and accountability in everything you do. It translates into things not just getting done, but getting done right. And maybe most importantly, it translates into a passion and a desire to always do things better or easier or more efficiently or more interestingly.

2) Demonstrates interpersonal skills.

While these qualities may seem a bit intangible they are at the core of an account person’s job. The ability to communicate clearly and interact with others in a positive, effective way is what we do, day in and day out.

This is not about slick PowerPoint presentations or bad business jargon. In fact, it’s about just the opposite. It is about simple, human, ‘do I understand what this person is saying’ communication. Think about how you express yourself generally – even in social situations. Can you tell a good story to a friend? Can you write a thoughtful email to your mom? A good AC is able to bring this style of interpersonal communication to the workplace.
We also look for your ability to interact well with others. While this sounds like a kindergarten report card comment, it still rings true here. Your day is spent dealing with all different kinds of people and you need to be able to navigate the range of personalities (right brain, left brain).

Good Account Coordinators can do the above, but great AC’s do it with a sense positive energy and enthusiasm. You interact with more people - more different people -- than anyone else in the Agency. Your actions extend to the greater team and help keep others, whether it’s production, creative or sometimes even Clients, motivated.

3) Is a problem solver.

Anyone who has done it for a while will tell you Account Management is all about solving problems. Some big, some small, some with easy solutions, some with no good solutions at all. Lots of problems, day in, day out.

And day in, day out, we depend on you to put your brain to use: figure out the problem, find solutions, over come obstacles. As you are walking toward something and a wall presents itself, resist the urge to simply turn back, or to shrug and point out the wall out to everyone else who is also standing in front of it. Rather, use what you know tohelp figure out how to go around it, go over it, or dig under it.

Materials for a big meeting just missed the last flight out? Do you research and call multiple couriers to see who can get it there in time? Do you get pdfs and contact a local Kinkos to have the boards recreated and delivered to the meeting? Exhaust the options. It often takes being inventive and creative in your problem solving.

4) Has a strong attention to detail.

Ever heard the saying “God is in the details”? You’ll come to find out, that regardless of level, everyone here works to an incredible level of detail. Some write body copy. Some care about placement of legal. Everyone here is responsible for dotting their “i’s” and crossing their “t’s”. Arguably, the attention to detail, and as a result, quality, is part of what makes us one of the best agencies in the world.

And in no place are there more details than in the job of Account Coordinator. Dig into the specifics – know the billing inside and out, understand the nuances of isci codes and versions of legal. Proof read. Check your work. Have someone else double check it. Try to remember that the accuracy of everything you create – from a simple client email to a weekly status report to a contact list – is a reflection of you, your team and the agency.

5) Can see the future.

Well, ok, maybe ‘is always a step ahead’ might be a touch more realistic. Things move quickly at the AC level and if you aren’t anticipating what’s just ahead of you, you’re likely going to feel like you are constantly behind. Don’t simply react and do. Try to think and plan first…then react and do. If you are walking into someone office to say ‘x’ to them, you probably should be thinking to yourself they likely will say ‘y’ or ‘z’ back to me. If you get people together to meet about ‘a’ and ‘b’ you might anticipate they are going to also ask about ‘c’.

This is probably the easiest trait to describe, yet a tough one to master. Part of it, of course, comes with repetition and with experience. But part of it is just pausing, thinking, and placing yourself in someone else’s shoes – if someone did/said/asked/suggested that to me, what would my response be – and then being prepared. You’ll be surprised at how much easier a little foresight will make your job.

At the outset, we proposed that we hire for attitudes, with the hope that we can teach the skills. That said we are both a learn by doing, sink or swim kind of agency. There are lots of people around to help, but learning how to do your job rests, in large part, on your shoulders. In that pursuit, we ask you be curious and ask a lot of questions. That you don’t pretend to know everything – we know you don’t. And that you listen and pay attention to how others around you are doing it.

It’s a unique character that has what it takes to do well at our decidedly un-account agency. And for those of us who at one time have had to push the drink cart into a meeting to which we aren’t invited, or mount boards until 5am, or get yelled at by both a Client and a Creative Director in the same day, we know the Account Coordinator job is thankless, stressful, emotional, and often unappreciated at times. We also know that the agency would come to a grinding halt without you. In watching AC’s grow up here, we believe the ones who exhibit the attitudes above are the ones who succeed more often then not.

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