Job: Account Director, EP+Co
Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Bryant and I were connected through Heath, a YoPro we interviewed last year, who is also a fellow Furman alumnus. Bryant's career has taken place at a booming advertising agency in Greenville, where he has moved across various roles within the company in just over nine years. When opportunities presented themselves to him to leave the company, Bryant stayed loyal and believes his decision to stay is where he has seen his career take off.
Give us a brief background on yourself.
I grew up in Columbia and graduated from Furman University in 2010, where I was a Communications major, so I knew I wanted to get into some form of advertising. I interned for EP+Co (formerly EP) in college, so I was very familiar with the agency. After school, I went home for three months and was a little lost without a job, but ended up finding an internship at a very small agency in Greenville for six months. In the meantime, I was keeping up conversations with EP and then joined them about six months after graduation and have been here ever since. Over these nine years, I have touched many different parts of the company and have watched it change and grow into the company it is today. I joined as an entry-level employee working on our account management team, followed by working in our technology department for a few years. More recently I transitioned back onto our account team and now oversee our Verizon business on the account side. I am responsible for managing their scopes, yearly contracts, and project work, so it is not sales or business development, but that is always a key part of working on an account.
It is unusual for our generation to stay with companies for nine years. What are some key factors for why you have stayed?
I have had a lot of opportunities to leave over the past nine years, both out of curiosity and because of external factors, but I think what I have always found is that loyalty pays off. I think the grass is not always greener on the other side, though many of us think that way. As a result, I have seen people jump and make career moves, but it has not always ended up being the best for them or as good as they thought it would be. Although my career moves have still been at EP, it is not the same job as it was nine years ago. In general, advertising is like a new job every day. We have a great client that we get to work for across the country, and for me, because we have things that keep it fresh and interesting every day, it is constantly changing. Yes, it is the same company and client, but at the same time, it feels very different. Loyalty to your company is not something that is as prevalent today, but has paid off tremendously for me.
Can you talk about EP + Co being a company with small roots, yet having such large clients (i.e., LinkedIn, John Deer, Lowes)?
EP+Co was rebranded several years ago. We have a New York office, so it has Greenville roots but has expanded to New York and is part of the IPG Network (Interpublic Group). We were small originally, but have grown into a national player. From a Greenville office perspective, we get asked a lot if our business hurts because of our location. However, when prospective clients visit us in Greenville, it actually works to our advantage since it’s kind of a little treasure here. It’s not just located in a small office in the south anymore; we have grown to a point, both in the office and in Greenville as a city, that people know who we are and they know where Greenville is on a map, which is pretty cool. Our office has this unique blend that a lot of agencies don’t have, so we use it to our advantage. It gives me the opportunity to gain more experience in both cities. I get to travel to New York a few times a month and I get work experience in both cities.
What has been the pivotal point of your career?
I would go back to my point of not jumping to another job for what may seem like a good amount of money; make sure you’re working somewhere you want to work and where you’re invested. The decision not to leave EP and stay is where I have seen my career take off.
Can you share a hardship you have experienced in the workplace and how you grew from it?
For me, I have learned that you can’t compare yourself to other people, especially when you think you deserve something and are trying to get to another level. Every scenario is different and every person's situation is different. You can’t look at others’ paths. You have to make sure you are looking at your own story and seeing what is best for you instead.
What would you tell someone looking to go into advertising?
Prior to joining the field, I would make sure you know what the advertising entry-level positions entail. So many folks want to come in and work on strategy and branding, but really when they come in, entry-level employees are on the account side. I ask in interviews all the time, “based on your knowledge, explain to me the responsibilities of your job.” I want to make sure they have a good grasp of what is coming because they are not going to come in and make the next big commercial that you see on the Superbowl. There are definitely opportunities to grow, but the strategy-level of work really begins within the entry-level roles because you will really learn all the touchpoints within the agency. The best account people actually stretch themselves across all aspects of the accounts. You shouldn’t just pigeonhole yourself into one area even though you may have this as your job title, because that doesn’t mean that is all that you do. Understand the job you’re coming in for but then also all the touchpoints of the agency as well, so you can sort of create your own path. Additionally, if you can intern in the field you want to get into, I take that as a great sign because they will have a better understanding before coming in. When I interview people, the worst answer I hear is, “I am here to help and do anything you need”. That’s great, but without direction, what do you think the core responsibilities of the job are? If they can answer that, it gives me context of how prepared they are.
What do you do for fun outside of work?
On the side, I do sports broadcasting and work with radio and ESPN stuff for the Furman men’s basketball team. I am a big sports fan so that keeps me connected. Specifically with EP, a lot of us play on the softball team, which is pretty fun. I would say there’s definitely a great balance and culture here. Outside of work, the Furman broadcasts are a lot of fun and I have a 16-month-old, so he keeps me busy.
Tell us about balancing moving up in your career with having a family.
EP is awesome about families and they want you to work hard, but not do it so much at the expense of your family. There’s a balance, so if I need to leave right at 5 PM and there is nothing going on, I’ll leave and play with my son, then get back on the laptop once he is asleep later that night if needed. I would say it’s pretty flexible in the sense that you need to get your job done and do it well, but you can leave early or come in late if necessary. I think EP has a great culture and does it right. We were actually named one of the best spots for working moms in 2018 and I think that is a huge thing. My personal approach is that I am not going to miss things in my kid’s life that are avoidable. There will be other opportunities at work, but there might not be another chance to see something in my kid’s life, like a first step or a birthday party. EP is very supportive of all of that.
Are you a morning or an evening person?
Since I had a kid, I wake up much earlier now, so I get to the office a lot earlier than before. I’d say I’m a morning person, so my advice is if you can get into the office earlier, do it. It’ll get you ahead and just really set the course for your day. That way, I can really focus on my son, Drew, after work and spend all of my extra energy on him so I can be present.
Any last-minute advice?
My biggest advice for people coming right out of college is to make connections through your internships. I didn’t take advantage of the career center at Furman, but I would suggest doing so at your university because EP goes into Furman and other local colleges to recruit. Other companies across the country are doing that as well, so take advantage of it because a lot of your peers won’t be doing it.
The YoPro Know's Takeaways:
– Advertising is like a new job every day
– Work somewhere where you’re invested
– You can't look at others' paths
– Don't miss out on things that are avoidable