Spotlight on: Justine Griffin

What do you do within the agency? 

My role is a bit of a hybrid. Firstly, I’m the primary account lead, acting as the channel between our clients and the HCA creative and production teams, but I also manage the day-to-day detail of projects. It’s my job to ensure we deliver on schedule, on budget, and to the agreed strategy and SOW. I also keep the lines of communication open between HCA and our clients, so we’re all working as one team.

Tell us how you got to where you are now… 

It’s been quite the journey! I’ve been working within Hearst on and off for more than 30 years now. I started my publishing career in advertising sales but soon moved into the advertorial arena – in the late 1980s, I established an advertorials team for Company magazine. Up until then, it was really only Vogue and Harper’s who were carrying advertorial pages.

While raising my family I worked as a freelancer, selling and managing advertorials and events at various other publishing houses and content agencies. These included IPC, Redwood, Bauer, Seven and Big Group.

I later returned to Hearst, working in a central advertorial department. (I’m attached to Hearst with an elastic band – it’s my favourite place to work!) Then, with the rise of digital, I became the first Campaign Manager at Hearst, managing large-scale, 360-degree campaigns across the whole business. I did hop over to Time Inc. for a couple of years to manage a vast London 2012 Olympics campaign for Procter & Gamble, but then I returned to Hearst and became Senior Account and Project Manager at the newly formed (at the time) Hearst Content Agency.

In every role I’ve undertaken, I’ve learned new skills and broadened my viewpoint in a way that I could never have done had I stayed in one place. I’m a restless soul and always eager to learn new things!

What does a typical day look like? 

There is no such thing as a typical day, to be honest! Though I do try and keep some sort of rhythm to each week.

Today, we are sending the latest issue of Princess Cruises’ Journey magazine to print and will start work on production of its digital version. Tomorrow, the team and I will have our weekly catch-up with a client, so I’ve collated any outstanding tasks, requests and updates from the wider HCA creative and production team.

Simultaneously, I’ve been ensuring that freelancers submit their timesheets, and that contributors and libraries send over their invoices to be processed, recorded and reported. I always have my to-do list front of mind, but I do have to be flexible to respond to requests from clients and all parts of the business as they come in.

What is the most challenging part of your role? 

I’m a bit of a control freak (I love the detail of things!), so I guess it’s knowing when to stop and move onto something else. Workload is always a mix of the planned and the unexpected, so that’s where prioritising, time management, flexibility, my amazing team – and a sense of humour – come in!

What is the most rewarding part? 

I know it’s a cliché, but it has to be client satisfaction and the sense of a job well done. There’s no feeling quite like completing a project and knowing that as a team (client and HCA in partnership), you’ve created and delivered a brilliant piece of content that really engages your audience.

The past five years I’ve spent at HCA have been a real highlight in my career. It’s been a joy to be part of an ever-growing, thriving and exciting agency, and to work with truly amazing clients, too.

What’s next for you and your team? I imagine there are some exciting plans in the pipeline… 

The agency is incredibly agile, so there are always new clients and opportunities just around the corner.

What advice would you give someone trying to get into Account or Project Management?

Ask yourself these questions: Am I a good organiser? Am I a people person and a positive force? Am I flexible? Am I keen to learn? Am I prepared to work hard and take responsibility? Can I stay calm under pressure? And, finally, can I accept that nothing is constant except change?

If you can answer yes to all the above, you have the right attitude and character for the job! The industry changes very quickly, so it’s good to keep learning, too – online learning, reaching out to experts and widening your life experiences are all great things to do as well.

Lastly, most of the roles I’ve had in my career have arisen from word of mouth – so be nice and be ready to make the most of every opportunity.

Finally, when you’re not at work, what would we find you doing? 

Singing with my choir, going to the gym, gardening, playing with my grandchildren or travelling.

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