On June 6, 2016, the fourth class of Havas Lofts began their journeys in New York, Paris, London, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Sydney, and Buenos Aires. Over the following four weeks, these 25 participants were immersed into processes, tools, and culture at their host agencies. After checking in with them before and during this unique learning experience, we’re now following up to discover all of the insights and meaningful connections they gained.
Read the full interview below. (And to learn more, check out all of their blog posts on Medium.)
Name: Virginie Bresson
Title: Strategic Planner
Home Agency: Havas Paris
Host Agency: Havas Chicago
Name: Anna Heaton
Title: Senior Project Manager
Home Agency: Havas helia
Host Agency: Havas Lynx
Name: Jason Desmarais
Title: Account Group Supervisor
Home Agency: Havas Lynx New York
Host Agency: Havas London
Name: Jonathan Schultz
Title: Senior Strategist
Home Agency: Havas Chicago
Host Agency: Havas Australia
Name: Jim Stump
Title: Creative Director
Home Agency: Havas London
Host Agency: Havas New York
Name: Sophie Van Eeckhout
Title: Global Financial Reporting Analyst
Home Agency: Havas Group Paris
Host Agency: Havas Media New York
The Mag: What key insights did you gain from your Lofts experience?
Virginie: A strong culture is a key factor in the success of any agency, attracting talent and motivating them to do a great job. I launched a questionnaire at Havas Chicago asking, “If you had to describe your agency in three words, what would they be?” People collectively answered with words like collaboration, fun, creativity, smart, which reflected genuine enthusiasm.
Anna: People really do enjoy meeting people from different cultures. My colleagues have asked countless questions, including, “What does bless your little cotton socks actually mean?” “Does it really rain all the time?” and “Is Manchester a different football team to England?” In return, I have inquired about the New York grid system, why a salad is better when it’s chopped, and what’s the obsession with iced coffee?
Jason: One of the biggest differences from a work perspective is the deep restrictions on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising here in the UK. There are almost no DTC marketing efforts, especially television advertisements, which are almost completely banned by national regulatory laws. This makes creative campaigns very tricky (but also innovative).
Jim: Greater insight into the US market. How different trigger points and insights work for different US demographics. I’ve learned to tailor my copywriting skills and tone of voice accordingly. Plus, I’ve gained greater knowledge of how a Havas Village actually works and what it is able to offers clients.
The Mag: Who from your host agency are you excited to work with in the future? How do you plan to stay in touch?
Anna: My coach, Samantha, who has made me feel welcome since day one. And the senior project manager I have been shadowing, Becca. I’m already staying at her apartment for a few days after the Lofts program ends, and she is always welcome in London. We’ll keep in touch via phone, Facebook, and Instagram. Without fail, we like every single photo each other posts. Last, but not least, my desk buddy, Rachel, for our shared love of food and wine.
Jason: My Havas Lofts coach, Louise Stone, is someone who I have had the pleasure of working alongside during these past four weeks. Her professional background surrounds several areas, including public relations, communications, and healthcare marketing. It has been a great experience having someone who has worked in several disciplines within the advertising industry and who can look at projects with several hats on. I look forward to continuing to stay in touch and share future ideas and insights.
Jon: Peter Pippen. He’s extremely bright, while still being practical and accessible. I’ll definitely ask for his brain on thorny problems in the future, likely over Facebook.
The Mag: What was the most memorable moment from your time as a Lofter? Tell us a story.
Virginie: On my first day of work, the Annex organized a party to celebrate Vic Mensa’s birthday. Not only did I discover the amazing and inspiring location of the office, but I also was directly immersed in Chicago’s hip-hop culture.
Jim: Meeting the other Lofters, being able to spend time with them, and chat about their roles within Havas. Forcing myself to understand the ludicrous UX of Snapchat to tell the story of my day and stay tuned to the other Lofters around the world.
Jon: On the job, the all-agency party during our first week. Everybody was in costume, running around on a city-wide scavenger hunt. There were people parading in and out of the photobooth, and Ant (the CEO) was sharing “celebrations” with winning teams. The energy was as if a huge group of great friends hadn’t seen each other in a long time. It really set the tone for the culture of the agency right away, and it made me feel right at home.
Sophie: During my last week, I had the opportunity to introduce my job in a formal way to the Havas Media financial teams. As my coach and I planned this presentation for the end of the experience, I tried to focus on what could be interesting/useful to encourage them to reach out to me in the future.
Jason: Being immersed in a whole new job, team, office, and network opens your eyes to a new way of doing business. Finding best practices and parallels within this new environment becomes second nature, and you begin to learn so much during organic conversations happening around you. The cultural differences tend to slip away quickly within a professional setting, as the business goals of providing the best quality creative work and account services is universal across Havas agencies. The most memorable of moments would have to be the morning after Great Britain voted to leave the European Union. It was a total shock to the world and especially to those living here in London. The office was very somber, as most of the people here voted to remain in the EU. It was such a historical event, and it felt very interesting to be present, being an outsider looking in. I will never forget this experience and how it will forever shape this great country.