Biz Alumni 06 April 2018

A career in advertising and communications

NUS BBA graduate Simran Gill (Class of 2013) is currently a Strategy Manager at advertising giant Dentsu Singapore. Her sense of independence and willingness to explore landed her in an industry that not many NUS Business School graduates tend to venture into.

She shares her career journey and why her specialisation in Marketing is one of the best choice Business School students can make.

In traditional terms, I’m what you would call a planner and my job is to develop the thinking and insights behind our clients’ advertising and communications – and sometimes even beyond that (i.e. their business plans, their overall branding in the next 5-10 years, etc).

Advertising is a really fast-paced industry that can have really long hours, so when I do manage to get some downtime, I love to run, watch period dramas and polish my nails (I own more than 50 bottles of nail polish).

Simran (centre) with her peers at the WPP Fellowship 20th Anniversary

What do I do every day at work? I could be working on a creative brief for a campaign to launch a new product, or I could be analysing the performance of our clients’ social media content to provide recommendations on what they should be producing.

There are times where I have to interview lots of consumers to build a Consumer Experience map, or to better understand the consumers’ perspective of a situation at hand. At any one point in time, I have multiple projects going on so a typical day is actually never typical!

At the Dentsu agency’s Lunar New Year celebrations 2018

In my final year, I received an email from the NUS BIZ Career Services office about a talk on the WPP Fellowship. I was lucky enough to be accepted as a Fellow and started the three-year international management trainee rotation programme in 2013. That groomed me to become a strategist with experience across various marcomms disciplines.

I spent three years as a strategist at different ranks and disciplines (i.e. trends and futures consulting, advertising and digital/UX). And that’s how I ended up meandering over to Dentsu, which is an ad agency that places robust data at the forefront. It’s a great mix of analytics and emotions, so I really like it.

Simran (second from left) with her peers from the WPP Fellowship

I wanted my potential employers to like and appreciate me for who I am. At NUS Business School, I had two especially great professors – Prof Ang Swee Hoon and Prof Tambyah Siok Kuan – who encouraged a sense of individuality and personality in their students. I’m thankful that I got to work with both of them for my Independent Study Modules. Today, I have my own style of presenting, talking, thinking and writing – and all of these are key to being a strategist.

It is important to always ask for feedback and view yourself (not others) as your biggest competition. It’ll make you want to work harder and harder. And always ask questions, no matter how old you are, what rank you’re at, or how silly you think your questions are.

Choosing to specialise in Marketing was one of the best decisions I ever made. Don’t let others make you feel that Marketing is all fluff – it isn’t. It’s rooted in such fascinating psychology concepts that you can apply in every part of your life. It’s an incredible versatile specialisation to have, and it’s what you make of it.

Internship at HSBC

Attending summer school in Germany

My advice to my Business School juniors – focus on wanting to learn as much as possible and don’t feel like you need to follow what your peers are doing. I encourage students to source their own internships – reach out to companies you’re interested in and see if they’d like to have you as an intern. That’s an example of you taking control of your career trajectory already.

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