Senior Account Manager

at Yamamoto Advertising Agency


- Minneapolis, Minnesota

- 11/18/20
Job/Career Demand
Positive Impact
Work-Life Balance
Compensation & Benefits
Work Environment
Years of experience

Describe the path you took to become a senior account manager

I've worked lots of different types of jobs, from a server to a wine sales rep. I wanted to set out on a new path and focus more on working for someone I could admire and learn from and was open to the job type. So, I asked a friend, "In business, who are some people you know and respect?" and Kathy, the head of Yamamoto in Minneapolis, was one of the people who came to mind. They said I reminded them of her, and I was intrigued. Luckily my friend was willing to set up an introduction, and we hit it off. There weren't any account manager positions available at the time, but if I were open to starting at an entry-level position, there would be opportunities for advancement. My father instilled in me that "no job is beneath you' and 'just get your foot in the door, and you can work your way up.' So, I started as a receptionist, then the office manager, and six months after I started, an opportunity came available for an account manager. I've had three or four promotions since then and am now a Sr. Account manager. I just kept a positive attitude and was willing to be helpful in any way and learn about the business. I didn't have any initial designs to work in advertising, but now that I do - I love it. 

What's a day in the life of a senior account manager?

One of the things I love about my job is there is no typical 'day in the life.' every day is different. I work for a full-service advertising agency, so I work on re-branding, ad campaigns, website design, visual marketing, and social media placement. My job as Sr. Account Manager is to liaison between the client and our agency. I need to understand and be the expert internally for our client's business, and know their advertising/marketing objectives and budget. Then I can become the client's eyes and ears at my company, so their needs and goals are getting accomplished. I'm also my client's expert on advertising and marketing, letting them know what avenues are available to them to complete their marketing objectives. My job entails a little bit of strategy, creative thinking, financial, and sales. I'm always continuing to get organic revenue and drive up the revenue of whatever account I'm working with at the agency. 

What's the best part of being a senior account manager?

Variety. I'm not sitting at my desk doing the same thing over and over. Every day is something new. One day I might be working with our creative team on building and designing a client's website, and the next day I'm working on an upcoming photoshoot - scouting locations, figuring out the best way to style it, and pre-determining what shots we'll need. 

Each business and client is different. I enjoy working with each of them on their goals for the next year and developing a plan for the scope of work and budget needed. It's a lot of personal interactions. Whether it's working with my creative team or my clients, I get to build relationships all day long. The job has an element of sales, but instead of it feeling like I have to sell sell sell, it's more about building relationships. There's more strategic thinking than just sales, and that's fun for me.

I really enjoy working in a medium-sized office. The Minneapolis branch of Yamamoto has forty to fifty employees, and I'm able to work closely with every person in my office. I'm close with my CEO, and we'll work on strategy, and then I'll go over and work with the design team, copywriters, or accounting department. A smaller agency can allow you to learn all aspects of the business. I've made friends with account reps at larger agencies, and they are more isolated in one department, working every day with the same four people. 

What's the downside of being a senior account manager? Words of caution?

The job can be stressful, and it's easy to work long hours. So finding a healthy balance between work and your regular life is tough. You need to be able to stick up for yourself, or you'll end up working fifteen-hour days and answering client emails, and dealing with creative team issues at all hours. 

To be a good account manager, you need to do well with chaos. It can be a crazy work environment and requires a lot of multitasking. If you're a person that can only focus on one thing at a time and gets overwhelmed easily, then advertising is probably not for you. I've seen employees crash and burn because it was too many things to juggle at one time. You've got to compartmentalize.

Depending upon the agency you work for, account managers often don't make a lot of money and work long hours. 

If you love the industry and see a future for yourself, it keeps your job from becoming a grind.

Advice on how to get started as a senior account manager

The majority of people in my position/department came from a marketing, journalism, or communications background; however, there is no set path to advertising. All different kinds of jobs and life experiences can be useful. I think the advertising world as a whole is looking for people with unique points-of-view, perspectives, and creative thinkers. If you're an out-of-box thinker, and can somehow sell and relate how your life and work experiences make you a uniquely creative thinker and good multitasker, then that could be your way in. Work on your skill sets, and be open to any job in the industry. Once you're in, you can work towards pivoting into the position you want. 

What skills are needed to be a senior account manager?

The job requires leadership qualities because it's our job to lead meetings and drive the conversation forward when working with an account. Being confident enough to say, "okay, here's today's goals, and this is what I need from you" is a part of the job. Sometimes in meetings, I have to reign in the creative teams and keep them on task. People can get sensitive, and understanding how to work with different personalities helps move things along. 

You've got to have good problem-solving skills and the ability to find solutions to your problems without asking many questions and can multitask and manage several things at once.

Also, strategic thinking, seeing the big picture, is useful in working with clients, and when things get chaotic and stressful.

What's work/industry culture like?

The advertising culture as a whole is really fun., which is why so many people are drawn to it. Our office is a creative environment with cool couches to hang out on and beer on tap. We have office parties and group lunches on Fridays. So, it's a different kind of business work environment. 

Historically the industry has been white male-dominated, like "Mad Men," but that's changing. It's becoming much more inclusive now.

What's the future outlook for a senior account manager?

Covid-19 pandemic has definitely changed some things, and I'm working from home, so everything has become more transactional. I'm realizing how important it is to have a good work culture.  

Like most companies, we've had a few layoffs, but we're holding on to as many employees as possible since our workload is still there. We're seeing marketing and advertising cuts from consumer products companies, but business to business companies and household consumer products are still doing well. In the long term, I think companies may head to individual freelancers and small to mid-size agencies, rather than staying with the larger premium agencies. The next six months will be telling for our industry.


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