Senior strategist > strategy director. What are specific qualities or tangible markers a person is ready to be promoted?

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I would be looking for evidence that you can lead a brand or an account beyond leading an individual project. I would be looking for signs that your thinking unlocked creative ideas, or changed the direction of the work. From the point of view of the hiring agency, it's good to be hiring newly-minted directors rather than paying a premium to recruit established directors. This should be your time.

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Thanks so much CSO and VP. It really helps. I think I am good at spotting opportunities and taking that aerial view you all the time. It’s just that, as a senior, you also get pulled into the detail which is sometimes a time suck, and what happens in the brand onion. Maybe I can request delegating a few of these types of projects in order for me to free up some time to prove that I can do the opportunity pushing and long-term strategy.

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You interviewed for a Director role and they floated Senior Strat? If so that’s... not cool.

If your product agency role was in strategy, you definitely have the experience.

From what I’ve seen there’s been a scramble at plenty of agencies to bring on more PoCs for senior roles, so they’ve either got their head up their ass or they genuinely don’t think you have the experience?

My personal feeling is that many shops will put a premium on intangibles like presence and style which *can* definitely overlap with standard white male expectations, which I often don’t meet (Asian male).

My last full time role was as a GSD at a small-ish independent digital agency. Feel free to DM if you want to discuss any details of your situation! Happy to help if I can.

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If SDs don’t fill decks there gimme some of that gold tier agency action!

What I didn’t quite get before is your current level, i.e., I can understand a top flight agency not wanting (or needing) to fill a SD role with someone who’d be stepping up into it. Like if it’s the kind of agency that people are willing to make lateral moves for, and you’re just not one of them.

Someone else made a comment wondering if freelancers are at a disadvantage when it comes to more senior roles but I think that’s mostly about how your position the experience. It might not be helpful at this point with your current situation, but I think it’s very useful to identify ways in which freelancing is more than showing up for a single project and then peace-ing out.

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For context, I’m a 33 year-old female poc. I’ve never been good at sticking my head above the parapet. But for two years now, I’ve been holding senior client relationships, I lead on medium size projects, my briefs
are the one that creatives want to work on, i am warm and well-liked, I’ve turned a brand around and won a bronze award on a paper. I recently interviewed at a top, top agency but they said that they’d only take me as an SS. I feel like heaps of guys can talk the talk and pick up SD roles. What do I need to achieve or do exactly? Beat my chest more?
Ok but serious. Please don’t send me Julian Cole’s diagram, I know most of my peers disregard it.

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An old boss once told me “the higher up your get in your career, the less WORK you actually do, and the more your job becomes LEADING.”

So, proof you’ve been able to mentor and nurture talent is usually a big selling point to be an SD.

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Also having the struggle of leaping from senior strat to director. Is it worth going for an associate director role? And I agree - I struggle to demonstrate how I’ve shown leadership especially as a freelancer. I also wonder if there’s a bias against freelancers like we haven’t had as much people management skills depending on how long we’ve been freelancing.

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CSO 1 I don’t disagree it’s a legitimate role, I just don’t think every agency commits to really using that as a springboard, and people tend to do t he same job just a different title. Of course part of that responsibility is on us to prove ourselves, to grow and acquire the skills we need for the next role, but part of that success is also on the manager and how the agency structures accounts etc, isn’t it? I’d love to hear your perspective as a CSO.

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When you come in with donuts every morning, you're ready.

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I see you’ve been hanging out with my last boss

I couldn’t make the jump, so I took the half-way title. 🤷🏻‍♀️

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I think it depends on the agency and internal politics... There isn't a standardised route.

How many years do you have?

That feels robust. Not sure how many years as a senior you have. Either way, Rooting for you that if this one was not a fit, the next connects and has you in the role you want.

The agencies you’ve worked at can play a huge role. Many dept heads want to see strong strategy agencies on your resume, that gives them confidence that you’ve been well trained. Not saying it’s right but I’ve heard out happens.

The biggest difference is the ability to write, lead and present new business as the planner in the room.

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