How Alison Hamer got ahead

“I admire all the women who are succeeding at a senior level in this industrynow Im going to go out and burn my bra.”

Name: Alison Hamer

Company: EHS Brann Cirencester

Job title: Managing Director

What made you want to get into brands/advertising/media/marketing?

I dreaded the thought of working in a bank or boring office. The idea of being able to wear jeans and play table football added much to the appeal of the business, but I also had this idea that when asked what I did at a sophisticated cocktail party, it would be much more interesting to say “I’m an advertising exec” rather than “I’m a bank manager”. Honestly! I can remember having this conversation when I was trying to persuade my dad it was much better for me to do Marketing at university rather than Law! Oh how I have learned.

How did you get into the industry (including relevant qualifications and professional training)?

I worked client side as a database administrator (fell into it) which happened to be in the marketing department. The agency that we worked with used to come into the office – all cool and converse trainers. I wrote to them and begged them for a job, and the only one going was as PA to the creative director. I took it, taking a pay cut too, and was the worst PA ever. They promoted me into account management because the creative director was so fed up of having to book his own hotels because I was too busy hanging around the creative work. I’ve never looked back. Oh, and I did have a degree in business with marketing.

What was good and bad about your first job?

As a PA? Good was that I was surrounded by like-minded people. All young, ambitious, fun – whereas client side had lacked this.

Bad – I probably wasn’t busy enough as a PA. I like to have lots to do.

List your jobs to date:

Database administrator

PA to creative director – Cogent

Account executive – Cogent

Account manager – Ogilvy, New York

Account director – Ogilvy, New York

Group account director – Mosaic

Business director – Claydon Heeley

Managing partner – EHS Brann

Managing director – EHS Brann

What were the best and worst, and why?

The worst was definitely client side as a database administrator. It was impossible to influence anything. If you tried to change anything, the same answer came back, “that’s just how it’s always been done.”

The best is right now – I love being managing director. It’s so varied every day and I really enjoy the challenge of looking after a big team, ensuring everyone is happy, motivated, interested and doing their best work.

This is followed closely by my stint as an account director at Ogilvy in New York; that might well be because of the opportunities I had to drink cosmopolitans and buy shoes! Working at Ogilvy in the US taught me hardcore DM skills. The pace was so much faster than in the UK. I loved the pressure and really thrived on it.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My dad. He’s always supported me in everything that I’ve done, even when I did things that he knew were going to go wrong. He’s an amazing man who achieved so much professionally but was always a great family man. At the time I didn’t notice it, but looking back he was always home for dinner with his kids whilst holding down a massively high-pressured job.

Who in the industry do you most admire?

I admire all the women who are succeeding at a senior level in this industry…now I’m going to go out and burn my bra.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

I don’t achieve things – my team does.

On what do you base your success so far?

A determination to do the best work I possibly can. I’m always asking myself “what exactly is the client paying for here, and will they think it’s worth it?”

What are your ambitions?

Far too many to list, but I want to win the next pitch. And then the one after that. And then the one after that.

Change one thing about your job:

Slightly shorter hours so I can go to the gym a bit more.

Change one thing about your industry:


Change one thing about the world:

George Bush

What is your favourite brand?

Bravissimo for obvious reasons for those who know me.

What is the next big brand in your view?

Not Trident, that’s for sure.

List your “media diet”:

The Guardian



Sunday Times and Observer

Telegraph online

Marketing Week


Precision Marketing

Heat – when no one’s looking

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