ARMLife Interview with Deepaah Anand
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I grew up with a big family from Sri Lanka in South East London, where I was born. My brother, cousins and I are all distributed around London now and we’ve remained very close. When I finished school, I went on to study psychology at the University of Reading. I’ve always been interested in people and mental health. I had already studied it for my A-levels, and I thought that was what I wanted to do. However, it takes a lot of studying and at the time, I couldn’t think of anything worse than studying more after having put my all into everything from my GCSEs up to university and I wanted to just get into work. I am still really interested in the topic and find it really important, so I’m glad I still had that experience.
How did you get into the media industry?
My brother used to be a credit controller at an outdoor media agency called Posterscope. While I was on summer holidays during my second year of university I wanted some work experience, so he set me up with an internship for 3 months. I did the same thing in the Christmas holidays, so I had quite a bit of time there. That’s how I landed in media, it wasn’t an intention of mine it just happened, and I happened to really enjoy it.
How did you come across All Response Media?
When I graduated in 2012 I came for grad day here where we had to do a press task and a presentation. After a second interview, I got the role as Graduate Media Executive. I actually left All Response Media in 2014 for 3 months, as I had been sold into the big bright world of another network agency and went there for TV buying on a brand level. I was very young at the time and wanted to try something else, even though everyone here at the time told me not to go but I did anyway. I ended up not enjoying it one bit. I knew there was some unfinished business back at All Response Media, I was so lucky those that were managing me wanted to push me and see me grow. They had said you can always come back, and they did welcome me back with open arms. Now it’s been 5 years since then and I’m an Account Director.
What’s a typical day for yourself as an Account Director?
Every day can be very different. I get together with the team at the start of every day and have a catch up on what’s due and what needs to be done. I sometimes map out a whole week, however, because things can change I often just take it day by day. Most of my day is spent dealing with clients and discussing budgets and executing briefs as well as helping out the team and supporting them with anything that they may need. As we buy all different media channels here, no two days are the same! I may have a media owner meeting with a radio rep in the morning and a media owner meeting with a taxi rep in the afternoon (much like today!), or meeting with clients to talk about results and future plans.
What’s your favourite thing about your role?
Probably how diverse it is. Since we take care of the planning, buying and analysis side of campaigns it makes our roles really interesting and rewarding. I like that I can come up with an idea and I can put it towards a client and then they buy the idea. It’s amazing then when the idea works. Last year I proposed the idea of ITV London sponsorship to a client and they bought it and it helped sell two more clients to do it. We then got a deal through for the agency for half a year sponsorship across multiple clients for the same property. When you know it’s your idea and you’ve helped a client see something different and changed their business while helping them succeed is really rewarding. I love that here you can make a difference and that your ideas can hold value.
Do you think your psychology degree helps you work here with people or not really?
That’s a hard one. The things you do while studying psychology I found was mostly reading a lot of studies and a lot of statistical analysis. I think it’s my personality more than my degree – I would like to think I’m really empathetic and understanding. I believe people’s mental health is really important and I would like to think I try and bring that back into my team through my character.
What’s your favourite aspect of working at All Response Media in general?
Definitely the culture and the people that work here. All Response is made by the people – everyone here is so nice and friendly. I love the fact that the board are so open and approachable. I can go and speak to our CEO about ideas. Being able to bounce off ideas and interact with people like that really helps you grow. My personality has also grown so much – the thought of small talk and negotiations terrified me when I first joined as a grad but having been here and being put in situations you have to step up. I feel much more confident and I can talk to anyone now. My character has built a lot over the last 7 years.
What’s your most memorable moment at All Response Media so far?
Within the second year I joined, the company took all of us away to Brighton for our annual away day and that was so much fun, and it was only the second one I had been to. Going away with all of your close friends and just having a good time was brilliant. From a work perspective, I was fortunate enough to work directly with Andy, our CEO, on a project for a client. We had to go to the client’s investors and sell TV back into them after poor performance and explain why we thought TV was the right choice for them. We only had 15 minutes to convince the investors to give funding to the clients to spend on TV advertising and we were successful! I’ve also been able to travel a lot, even to Chicago and Berlin for clients. I’ve been very fortunate with my journey here.
If you could work in any other department or office at All Response Media, which would it be and why?
It would be cool to work in the Amsterdam office – they’re still a small close-knit group starting a whole new All Response Media journey over there. I enjoy working in offline, so I wouldn’t want to change that but working in the Amsterdam office would be a cool experience.
You recently graduated from ITV, tell me about that?
It was a scheme ITV run, where about 20 different people from different agencies get involved in – we got to do loads of fun things such as visit the Emmerdale and Coronation Street studios. We also got to go to the ITV offices and speak to lots of interesting people working in different departments such as the programming team, the sports team, the Chairman and CEO. We were able to learn about all the different parts of ITV and how it works. In the end, there’s a little graduation where we have a glass of prosecco and there was a talk from the ITV Sales Director and the CEO. It was a really good scheme and we learned so much – we all got our own Love Island water bottle and Hunter wellies too!
Do you have any hidden talents and hobbies not many people know about you?
I played the violin up until grade 7. I am Tamil Sri Lankan and we have a specific type of music we play called Carnatic music. There was a Tamil School down the road from where I lived, and I learned the violin there, which is a traditional instrument. I used to sing as well – I used to perform and sing in loads of shows. However, I eventually had to stop as I got to university as it was difficult to balance both.
My hobby at the moment is planning my wedding which is happening next month! (which has now passed, congrats!) As I’m Tamil, we have massive weddings and planning it is like having another full-time job! I have the legal wedding first and then then the Hindu wedding which we’re catering for 600 people. I’m really looking forward to it, but also looking forward to having my life back!
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you take with you and why?
Loads of chocolate, my goddaughter – she’s coming up to two years old, she’s amazing and I could have her there to entertain me – and a boat. I have a bit of a phobia of water, so I would need a boat to make sure I wouldn’t have to swim anywhere.
What’s your favourite thing to do in London in your spare time?
I love that if there’s something you want to do it’s just there – the city really allows you to be spontaneous and do interesting things all the time.