Sunday, June 22, 2008

Goals are dreams with deadlines

Rudy La Faber had a dream. He also had a clear plan of how to make it materialise. He took firm action, one step at a time, and now he's living his dream. Here's what he says...

“If you said I was going to be a writer at a big agency a year ago, I would have laughed at you. I didn't know a thing about advertising. Now I'm a writer at Naga DDB. Most of my friends are pretty sick of me talking about my job. I can't help it though, I love it too much. For the first time ever I can wake up, head to work and not complain about anything at all. I honestly couldn't have done it without Janet and the crew!"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fajar's exciting journey to a job in Ogilvy Singapore

Fajar Kurnia, the most awarded student of 2007, recently went job hunting in Singapore and got 3 job offers : Grey, TBWA/Tequila and Ogilvy. He eventually accepted Ogilvy's.

Congratulations Fajar, on making your dream come true. When you first joined 95% you said you were determined to be the best in whatever you do. Now you've proven it! AWESOME!
We wish you (and your puppy - the one featured in the ad that won Gold) all the best in Singapore.

This is what Justin Lim, ECD of Grey wrote to me :
out of all the kids i saw at portfolio night yesterday, the boy you recommended clearly stood out.
i offered him a job. now it's up to him if he wants to accept it.
thanks once again for the recommendation - it's a great help.

I don’t know if I am lucky, or it is that easy?

After realizing that in Malaysia, it is much easier to get a job than the work permit, I decided to try my luck in Singapore. It started with The Portfolio Night organized by DDB.

I was supposed to meet several Singaporean ECDs there including Justin Lim of Grey Singapore. I was wondering what kind of person Justin was as my friends who had seen him earlier said that he was totally demanding and ruthless. He told one of my friends “You’ll never get any job anywhere with a portfolio like this.”

But there was no way for me to back out as Janet herself had set up an interview for me that night. I thought there was nothing to lose; I had been with Janet for over half a year; how much worse this could be?

I saw him, showed my portfolio and explained some of the work. The next thing I knew, he offered me a job, explained what I would do, and gave me A WEEK to think about it!

I was happy and thrilled, but then another thing came up in my mind “SH*T! I haven’t even tried any other agency. I want to try firstttt! Who knows there may suddenly be a miracle that can get me an interview with agencies like Ogilvy.”

I went back and improved my portfolio based on the feedback I got that night. The next morning, I sent my portfolio to almost all the big agencies in Singapore. Since I did not have any contacts of any ECDs there, I tried to guess their email addresses.

I sent the same email to,,,, and so on.

80% of my emails bounced back but I kept doing that (reducing the size of the attachment helped) until my email got through to the ECDs I was targeting.

I got several replies immediately. Who says that ECDs don’t read emails?

The 2 that really excited me were from GRAHAM KELLY of TBWA|Tequila and TODD MCCRACKEN of Ogilvy & Mather.

My first interview was with TBWA. Their office building was very interesting. It was an old renovated ex-clinic building painted yellow. I saw John Merrifield while waiting for Graham; I did not know John was based in Singapore. The interview went well; Graham did most of the talking. He explained what they were doing, their clients, the way they worked and he told me that he thought I could crack big briefs and I would do well there.

After lunch, I rushed to Ogilvy’s office which was located not so far from TBWA’s. The office was very big and quite scary. It was like a big mafia mansion with a humourless receptionist. Anyway, I got to see Todd after waiting for 10-20 minutes.

From the conversation, I think Todd was not really looking for new people. I think he just wanted to give me an opportunity to show my work. In fact, I did not expect anything from him other than useful feedback. Ogilvy Singapore was the second runner up Agency of the Year at Cannes Lions last year, getting an interview was already an achievement for someone like me.

After seeing my book, he got the creative group head and his partner to come into the room. They saw my work and gave me some useful feedback. Then the group head said "I HAVEN'T SEEN SUCH A GOOD BOOK IN A LONG TIME".

Todd asked me to give him a week to let me know.

Just as I left the office, the group head chased after me and asked if I could give him a soft copy of my work, which I did. (Apparently, this is the guy who did the campaign for FHM that won at every award show in the world. The one that looks like a long copy ad campaign but all the words are actually sexy girls posing.)

A week later, I emailed Todd. He told me that there were a lot of people applying to Ogilvy, but I was on his finalist list. He said he liked me and I’d worked out well there. I told Janet that I did not have any more fingers to cross.

Two days later he said “You’re in”. I almost fell down from my chair when I saw his email. I really don’t know how to put the feeling into words. It was like a far-fetched dream that suddenly came true. I wonder how this could seem to be so easy!

I regret to say that I had to turn Grey and TBWA down.

I have just gotten my work pass approved. I am now preparing all the requirements to apply for a dog permit in Singapore for my little Canon (which has turned to be much more difficult and expensive than applying for human work permit).

Thanks guys for all the best wishes.
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