InSource Opinion Poll: Changing Careers

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The new year is often a time when people consider making a career move, particularly after experiencing another year of flattened salaries and bonuses. In a slow economy, however, what are your options?

About The Author

In the Beginning, Andy grew up the oldest of six children to blue-collar working class parents in a small, cold northern New York factory town where just about everybody played hockey. In fact, he played the game for 17 years, the last four as starting goaltender for the NCAA Division III RIT Tigers. More importantly, it afforded him four great years of education and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, with a major in Communication Design from the Rochester Institute of Technology. The Start of a Career: He began his career in Wisconsin as a graphic designer, working for a number of firms specializing in corporate identity and print design. On one of many accomplishments to come in his career, he helped design and implement a unique industrial equipment trade show exhibit for the JI Case Company that occupied 77,000 square feet at the Houston Astrodome. The success of this show helped boost JI Case sales for that year and drive market share in this very competitive category. Climbing the Corporate Ladder: In 1983, Andy had his first taste of the corporate world, designing packaging and sales promotion materials for General Foods Corporation, helping drive successful brands like Maxwell House Coffee, Post Cereals and Jell-O. At International Playtex Family Products division, he managed a successful creative staff, developed outsourcing relationships with key agencies and vendors, and gained a valuable understanding of the inner workings of a large corporation. He assisted in the implementation of Beatrice Company\'s corporate identity program for Playtex subsidiaries and became passionately involved in all things packaging – structure, graphics, production. With a desire to further explore this world of brand identity, Andy took a position with RJR Nabisco's Planters LifeSavers division as head of Packaging Design, managing a small team responsible for the creative workload of a large marketing department. While with Planters LifeSavers Company, he was responsible for the redesign of many recognizable brands, helping to revitalize sagging sales. P&G Interbrand, a former vendor and colleague of Andy’s from his days with International Playtex, had just acquired a small creative firm called The Benchmark Group in Cincinnati and was in need of someone with strong corporate experience to manage this office. His role encompassed team leader, creative director, business development leader, and account manager. Andy was responsible for managing a 20-person creative team and nurturing a relationship with Interbrand’s biggest client, the consumer goods giant, Procter & Gamble. Notable brands he helped develop included Vidal Sassoon hair care products, Folgers coffee and Era laundry detergent. Another accomplishment of note was the introduction of computers in the office, where he planned, implemented and trained the staff, helping them develop the technology skills and comfort level to thrive in a Macintosh environment. The New York Years: In the 90’s Andy’s career took him to New York where he began a 10-year stint working in Manhattan, first for Apple DesignSource and then, again for Interbrand. At Apple DesignSource he wore many hats because of his extensive packaging knowledge and experience. In addition to new business development, he soon became liaison to many of the company\'s key clients including Frito Lay and Warner Lambert and for such brands as Doritos, Tostitos and Listerine. Identity Heft: As happens often in the creative community, a former colleague approached him about a promising opportunity with a certain déjà vu appeal. Andy rejoined Interbrand in New York to head up creative services and fell in love with the corporate and brand identity business. He was responsible for design implementation and production in the New York office, and because Interbrand had offices around the world, he often interfaced and collaborated with creative colleagues in Japan, Switzerland, London and Argentina. He helped resolve issues for major corporate clients like Texaco, 3M, Deutsche Telekom, British Airways, Ace Insurance and BankBoston. His involvement in identity projects included creation and production of corporate identity style manuals, detailing specifications for stationery, signage and literature systems, to name a few.\n\nPrincipal and Interest\nIn the spring of 2000, Andy became Director of Branding & Creative Services for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and accepted the challenge to build a creative team to champion an iconic brand identity. At Wells Fargo, some 45,000 employees looked to him and his team to provide day-to-day strategic and creative marketing support as well as guidance with brand and corporate identity issues. He managed teams of designers, writers, production professionals and printers who were charged with the task of bringing the voice and personality of the Wells Fargo brand to life. He was responsible for leading creative development for break-through brand identities and communication initiatives. Andy managed the development of online brand training and resource centers for team members and vendors and lead corporate identity training workshops for this same audience. In addition, he lead this creative team in the creation of online project management systems to support corporate marketing campaigns and maximize print production processes. Brand Andre: Every move he’s made in his career has been purposefully focused on gaining creative leadership in every organization Andy’s ever worked for. Every career move has enabled him to acquire tremendous business and industry acumen, placing him in a position of higher authority to take leadership in an organization toward greater accomplishment of business goals and rewards. To that end, in the spring of 2004, Andy reinvented himself and Andre Paquin Associates was borne out of a career of hard work and was ready to take aim at corporate America from the other side of the desk. With a perfect blend of consultancy and corporate experience, many clients appreciate the fact that he’s walked a mile in their shoes and know what it takes to make them successful. His consulting practice has helped clients like Siemens, Time Inc., Wolters Kluwer Health and Radian Group make the most of their brand identities.

1 Comment on "InSource Opinion Poll: Changing Careers"

  1. I began my career many moons ago when design was something not yet in the business vocabulary. But thanks to folks like Steve Jobs, companies cannot compete in today’s marketplace without paying attention to product detail and excellent customer experiences. I’ve spent time during my career on both sides of the client desk and I have to say that the attitudes have changed, but not really.

    What I mean by that is that in-house creatives were always looked at like the strange red headed stepchild by others inside big companies. Today, because of the sensitivity to the bottom line, companies have included in-house creative as part of their cost effective business strategy. Why pay big agencies big bucks when we can hire artists (that’s what they think we are) to do all that stuff for us!

    Some in-house creative teams have been turned into “the art department!” This is the worst thing that can happen to any creative. The mindset is one of a drive thru where orders are given and taken and your product is passed on to your customer like McDonald’s moves fries.

    The best position any in-house creative can take is to stop thinking like a servant and start thinking like part of the business team (even though you may not be a welcome partner at the business table). Treat your inside business partners like clients. Remember that in most cases they are not the end user. Every decision you make to provide a business solution should be evaluated from the customer’s POV. Learn what makes the customer tick.

    The more you think like your business partners and show that you can add value in a way they cannot (because you’ve learned to think like a designer), they will learn to respect you and think to include you and look forward to your involvement. Become indispensable to them. Elevate your status by raising the bar on your game.

    As for the poll, consider this. Job models inside companies look like pyramids with more worker bees at the bottom making less money and fewer queen bees at the top making more money. Some day the organization will be forced to allocate funding for the things that will move the business forward and look at priorities. In-house creative support (that’s what you do – support) is relegated just below marketing and communications which falls below manufacturing (product creation) and finance (maximizing value). In a tight economy companies are forced to consider whether you are a “have to have” to make the business succeed or a “nice to have” to make the business succeed. And when the day comes when your position has been eliminated or you just can’t understand why you can’t advance, you’ll understand that it’s “nothing personal,” it was a business decision.

    As for career change, if you haven’t been forced into it you need to think about what you’re doing to prepare for it. Network with colleagues. Get involved in organizations like InSource. Start learning how to build something new into your portfolio of skills. Reinvent yourself. Open up the business section and pay attention to hot industry sectors. If they’re hot, then they will need growth support. Migrate. Prepare. Learn how the world operates outside your cubicle and from both sides of the client desk. One day you may need to know what it takes to differentiate yourself from others. Start building your brand today!

    (Stepping down off my soapbox now)

    Andre Paquin
    Past President, InSource
    Current President, American Marketing Association (New Jersey chapter)(take note, I’ve learned how to live among who used to be my internal clients and have been accepted by them as an authority)

    Make it happen for yourself!

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