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"Consistency, Transparency, and Connections are Key"


R/GA producer Elyse Nganwuchu explains her first steps into the industry and how being in lockdown has led to learning about the stock market

"Consistency, Transparency, and Connections are Key"

Elyse Nganwuchu chats to R/GA about her journey to being a producer and the integral role producers play on any team.


Q> Tell me about your career. How did you end up where you are today?

I like to describe my path to advertising as non-linear. It was not an industry I was well-versed in growing up or in college. After studying Supply Chain Management and Marketing at Rutgers Business School my interest lied in the financial sector of entertainment or marketing. I thought my tactical abilities with finance and a knack for process and logistics would be a great fit for various companies and industries.

However, when thinking more deeply about those strengths coupled with a love for all things creative and content, I decided to look into fellowships immediately after receiving my B.S, a now very popular next step for recent graduates in jump-starting their careers. I was led to Verizon’s advertising fellowship (Adfellows) by way of the T. Howard Foundation where I developed a keen interest in the intersection of creativity, technology, and process for new and innovative digital campaigns, experiences, and brands. The duration of the program allowed me to become well versed in many of the different disciplines, companies, and processes of business in advertising and marketing as a whole and ultimately that exposure and the completion of Verizon’s eight-month fellowship afforded me the opportunity to interview and accept a position as an associate producer at R/GA, one of the leading agencies for the foundation of production.

In the short span of a year, my career has led me to quickly have an impact on a diverse client roster including, Verizon, bubly, Ally Bank, and many brands from the Beam Suntory portfolio. Through these brands, I’ve been able to lead the charge for a team of diverse strategists, creatives, and thinkers, one client, campaign, and overall story at a time. Additionally, I’ve been able to tap into one of my many passions as an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within R/GA by serving as the co-lead of BEN, which stands for the Black Employee Network. Through this affinity group, I am able to create opportunities to support, amplify, and elevate the voices of the group both internally and externally in the industry.


Q> When did you realise you wanted to be a producer? 

The day I realised that the title producer was not only related to music or a television show, was when I realised it was something I wanted to explore. This took place during my fellowship. Through shadowing the discipline and exposure to a variety of projects I saw two things I loved in one role. The first being planning and logistics of making sure things got done, and the second being the creation of an idea becoming something tangible whether that was an asset for social, a full-fledged campaign, or a net new product. For me, seeing that come to life and being involved in every step of the way was the highlight of me connecting my tactical abilities with my current and developing interests.

Additionally, being new to this industry I saw the role of producer and production in its entirety as the perfect way to continue to build business relationships and acumen as I foster my PM craft through experience and potentially a graduate degree while also understanding the siloed role different disciplines may play in bringing an idea to life in case I want to expand my specialties in the future trajectory of my career. 


Q> What do you dedicate your time to outside of work? 

Outside of work, I try to fill my time with things that allow me to be very plugged into what relates to advertising and marketing both directly and indirectly. Directly, I like to stay current with the industry by taking in new information from brands I like or have a personal interest in on social media or their newsletters for updates to their business and what they provide the public. Doing this helps me stay focused and up to date on how that business continues to evolve and to meet its market demands. More indirectly, developing new hobbies around some of my one-off interests.

Since being in quarantine, that list has grown very long, but most recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time learning more about the stock market and multi-family real estate. It’s my short term goal to buy my first property soon! Personal research into these topics as a hobby has been helpful on occasion with some of the clients I’ve worked on as primary insight into consumer's experience with their products. A couple of other things on that long list include learning Spanish, mentorship as a mentee and mentor, attempting to sew as I've always been obsessed with the idea of making my own clothes, and spending time with family and friends (at a social distance!)


Q> What work do you currently find interesting? 

Currently, I’ve been really interested in work that has an impact on a global scale. I know how cliche that sounds, but thinking of the world truly on a global scale now in my personal life and professionally in the one R/GA model, my interest lies in more than what can be great and innovative for the one, but better yet the many, across continents and cultures. The mediums that can be used for influence are in abundance now more than ever, and advertising at its core is responsible for tapping into them. I’m interested in work that identifies what consumers’ user experiences, technology habits, and overall connections they want are in actuality around the world, not a status quo of what was once an assumed behaviour. The past methods of messaging from the top down are now moot points, and that goes for what life-changing piece of storytelling or product can serve the needs of global consumers. Consistency, transparency, and connections are key coupled with more embedded strategy than tactical exercises. Essentially work that allows room to look at the intersectionality grounded in advertising and marketing broadly to be effective and impactful for brands and consumers simultaneously.


Q> How do you express yourself creatively at work? 

This is a great question! It’s one I constantly try to answer for myself in my day-to-day because of the nature of my role, there are some of the assumptions that are made around that role in the industry. For the most part, I’m expected to only speak on things that are related to process, money and budget, or resourcing for a specific project. However, the value I place on my thoughts and ideas and the creative ways I like to express them personally and professionally is just as important as those assumed things I am also very good at. When it comes to work, I pride myself on remembering that the components of creativity include being open-minded to ideas and processes that are foreign or uncomfortable, understanding that creativity or to be creative is not a singular action but instead a way of being and thinking, and that ultimately creativity that leads to innovation is successfully failing and failing fast. The latter is not always the easiest when timelines, money, and stakeholders are involved but it is still a great reminder to foster a creative spirit. 

In practice at work, this looks like me being able to express an idea to my team in a creative work session with the internal team or clients. It is setting the tone for a meeting or conversation with those of different expertise and adding value with an opinion that may be different than what has always been done by that team or the leading idea in the room at that very moment. It’s being vulnerable in a way that truly allows my mind to wander to think of solutions to problems our clients may be facing and adding my experiences for context on what the consumer may need or what is ultimately something that may not yet exist in the world but should. It’s all of those things taking shape throughout a typical workday and embracing the role I was able to play in that as a producer but even more importantly as a member of the team.


Q> What advice do you have for others in this position? 

My biggest piece of advice for others in this position would be to be clear in the goal of what you’re producing but flexible in the path to get there. I say that to highlight the importance and responsibility producers have to their teams to cast the right things together to create the best possible outcome. This applies creatively and financially for many parties when being done at a fast pace and not always going according to ‘plan’. The ability to pivot and problem-solve for a multitude of things is a unique value attribute. Making space for your team creatively and strategically in any project no matter how big or small is the tangible execution of that.

Additionally, as a producer, it is also important to understand the role of partnership with almost every discipline on your team, especially your client services lead. That relationship is the key to the balancing act that needs to take place every step of the way in a project to champion the team’s ideas while also making sure the client is happy with the quality of work. The way that you can exemplify these nuanced skills to provide results is the difference between a good producer and a great producer. 

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R/GA US, Mon, 27 Jul 2020 15:52:12 GMT