Women in Business Q&A: Frances Great, Managing Director, BBH LA

Frances Great is the newest member of the BBH LA team joiningas managing director. This is her third BBH agency assignment having worked previously in the London and Singapore offices.

She originally joined BBH in 1999 to work on the TAG Heuer and Johnnie Walker accounts. After two years in the London office, she transferred to BBH Asia Pacific to further her global advertising experience and to reconnect with her Singaporean family roots.

After a stint as Head of Account Management she took over as MD in 2010, Frances was part of the growth of the Singapore agency from 30 to 130 people with a diverse, multi-skilled talent base that reflects the evolved offering of the agency. She led many of the agency's biggest and most high profile accounts including Levi's, Google, Perfetti van Melle, Johnnie Walker and Axe.

BBH Singapore was most recently honored in Ad Age's A-list report as runner-up International Agency of the Year following a series of significant new client wins including Nike and IKEA and saw 25% growth in 2014.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I've had the good fortune to live and work in a multitude of different places and within different cultural contexts in London, Paris, Singapore, Sydney and now Los Angeles. My travels have exposed me to a wonderful variety of ideas, people and leadership styles that I've been able to observe, learn from and apply to my own style of leadership.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at BBH?
I've been with BBH for almost 15 years and worked in 3 different BBH offices in 3 very different regions. So my employment experience has very much been shaped by having the opportunity to work with such an array of incredible talent within our business. Above all, I've been motivated by the curiosity and constant hunger that BBHers possess when it comes to asking what's next and how we can continue to innovate.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at BBH?
Probably my last three or so years (of twelve), working with BBH Singapore. We made a conscious decision to expand our offering by building more local and regional client relationships that were less dependent on global assignments and also that went beyond traditional advertising. The Singapore team picked up Ad Age's Runner Up International Agency of the Year accolade in recognition for our efforts and success in 2014. The re-engineering of the business had its hair-raising moments but has definitely made BBH a better, stronger and more interesting agency.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
Be confident, believe in yourself and don't be afraid to ask for what you want. And as you grow, surround yourself with people who are better than you are, as it will prompt you to constantly lift your own game.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Treat people in the way you'd like to be treated. I'd say that's an important life lesson not just one that relates to ones career.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
With difficulty! But primarily by trying to be organized with how I spend my time and ensuring I have a couple of non-work related projects happening outside working hours. And making time to attend our Tuesday night boot camps on the BBH patio!

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Being able to have it all. I think you have to make choices. The ability to juggle work, family, friendships and personal interests is demanding regardless of whether you're a man or a woman. But the shift towards more flexible working arrangements such as working from home, being freelance, working part time etc. is starting to give us more options which can only be a good thing.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I've been incredibly fortunate to work with and be mentored by some truly inspirational people during my career - not least Sir Nigel Bogle, Founding Partner of BBH. The values and standards Nigel instills in all of us are second to none and have shaped both my professional and personal outlook. I've also been surrounded by a very supportive network of women from within my family, my early school days, through university and BBH. More recently I've worked with a female coach in San Francisco who has helped me make some of the bigger life decisions we all face.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
There's no one single female leader who I'd call out. I've had unparalleled support from my mother and my two sisters who between them have encouraged and guided me to be independent, to apply myself and to have a sense of purpose.

What do you want BBH to accomplish in the next year?
I joined the BBH LA team 4 months ago and am embracing the excitement of not knowing what exactly the future holds. I'm really enjoying playing my part in exploring new ways to create compelling communication for brands in the entertainment and technology spaces and hope we can create world-class ideas that change our landscape for the better.