No one ever died wishing they spent more time on PowerPoint Slides.

No one ever died wishing they spent more time on PowerPoint Slides.

The year past has been one of the most memorable.  Moving country, changing roles and trying to be a grown up: it has been challenging.  The year has also been incredibly rewarding.  There is no greater lesson I have learned than change is inevitable, but can be difficult.

But there is a need for balance. No one ever died wishing they’d done a few more PowerPoint slides.  I just want to do what I love and try and make a few people happy.

From a career perspective, I have had the opportunity to develop the strategy and service offering for the CMG group of agencies.  Like any start-up, the volatility of clients, partners and personalities is the source of every high and every low.   Internally and externally. This is agency life.

A company that is only really 18 months old has grown from one to over thirty in that short time.  Nurturing that growth, and constantly looking for the big picture while managing to change the attitudes, processes and outcomes of six individual agencies of over 1,500 other employees.

The growth is not all sunshine and lollipops.  The change is not all management text-book materials. We did not and do not make every one happy.  But overall, the change that the team has developed through our strategic, creative and production capabilities has been a true step-change.

We’ve been recognized with the Digital PR agency of the year. But it is no time to rest.  My role, and what we colloquially call “the studio” must keep changing, must keep evolving, must keep adapting to ensure long-term success.

Personally, the journey has been one of growth and some serious self-reflection.  I won’t lie: my cynicism and jaded attitude was my biggest enemy.  Exhausted, stressed and highly caffeinated at all times meant that managing our teams of strategists and agency account managers lead to some hard moments, and harder conversations.

The stress of travel, relationships and friendships meant my usual sanctuaries were wiped.  Music, CrossFit and film become duties – to manage the stress required more discipline before.  My anxiety and lack of concentration was amplified to a scale I’d never experienced before.

I’ve grown up in a culture where it’s good to work hard, have a stressful job and be successful – but when you’re wiped out on the bathroom floor of a hotel room in the middle of a panic attack, your body forces you to stop.

There’s no prize for being the most stressed out.  There’s not even a prize for coming first.

Do what you love. Make people happy.


Jye Smith is currently Senior Vice President, Head of Strategy & Operations, Asia Pacific at Weber Shandwick. Ranked in B&Ts 30 Under 30, Jye a regular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator who specialises in digital and social media strategist.