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The Art of Account Management: Maud-Emilie Baron on Why Listening Is Everything


Herezie's Maud-Emilie on how she got into account management and how disagreement - as long as it is constructive - pushes her to go further

The Art of Account Management: Maud-Emilie Baron on Why Listening Is Everything

Over 15 years of experience, in agencies like BETC and TBWA, Maud-Emilie accompanied various advertisers: Cetelem, Nina Ricci, PMU, GMF, Côte d'Or, Leerdammer, beIN Sports, Essilor, Allianz, Nokia... on different topics: brand platform and campaign deployment, locally or internationally. Today, Maud-Emilie is leveraging her strategic vision and her 360° skills at Herezie. 

LBB> How did you first get involved in account management and what appealed to you about it?

Maud-Emilie> The first time, it was pure chance.

I needed an internship. A small advertising agency was looking for an assistant project manager and everything clicked.

The two young talents I was working with came from EURO RSCG (formerly, Havas Worldwide). I saw everything through their eyes and their stories, an exciting job, with high standards and a touch of madness. I took to it right away.

LBB> What is it about your personality, skills and experience that has made account management such a great fit?

Maud-Emilie> Relationships with others. When I work on a project, I like dealing with the components of each person (character, desires, fears). You have to find the right mix so that everyone advances together, in the right direction and to the right pace. And to buffer when it is necessary.

LBB> What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting their career in account management?

Maud-Emilie> Listening.

Without listening to clients, we can’t perceive what’s behind their requests or their words.

Without listening to the talents around us, we can't understand the different positions and their needs.

In my opinion, listening is the basis of everything, before you can move on to reflection and action.


LBB> Thinking back to some of your most challenging experiences you’ve had in your career, what do you think tends to lie at the heart of the more tense or difficult client-agency relationships?

Maud-Emilie> Exactly that – lack of listening... to each other.

I think of the agency-client relationship as a team that must move forward together in order to tear things apart.

When listening is broken on one side or the other, the team no longer functions and that's when tensions arise.

LBB> And what are the keys to building a productive and healthy relationship?

Maud-Emilie> Understanding, sharing clear objectives, organization, transparency, respect, not being afraid of challenges. And most of all... having fun doing what you do.


LBB> What’s your view on disagreement and emotion - is there a place for it and if not, why not? If so, why - and what does productive disagreement look like?

Maud-Emilie> Is there a place for it? Of course!

These are two legitimate feelings that are necessary to give life to beautiful projects. In a business that revolves around people, we would be nothing without emotion. Who would we be if we tried to touch our consumers emotionally, without putting emotion into producing the work ourselves?

Disagreement, as long as it is constructive, pushes us to go further, to see things differently and often for the better.

LBB> Historically, account management has been characterized as the mediator in an adversarial client and creative relationship - what do you make of that characterization, is there any nugget of truth in that or is it wildly inaccurate?

Maud-Emilie> Actually, I find that a bit reductive. Of course, that’s a situation that can happen but there are so many others, and much more positive!

LBB> These days, agencies do so much beyond traditional campaigns and as account management you’re pulling together creative, experience, data, e-commerce, social and more - and that complexity can often be mirrored on the client stakeholder side too? What’s the key to navigating (and helping the client navigate) that complexity?

Maud-Emilie> An account manager is never alone with all these skills. They are surrounded by specialists in these different fields. Once the decision maker(s) are identified, the team can move in the same direction to reach the same goal.

Very often, these days, clients are structured that way too. 


LBB> What recent projects are you proudest of and why? What was challenging about these projects from an account management perspective and how did you address those challenges? What was so satisfying about working on these projects?

Maud-Emilie> The first project that comes to mind is a campaign for a well-known brand of sauces. Never before had I known clients who listen so attentively and had an understanding for our needs and our constraints. It was truly an example of a successful collaboration "as one team".

The second project is a public health campaign where our interlocutors were not in the business at all. It was satisfying to see how we were able to bring them into our world and how the expertise of each person complemented the other for an unparalleled result.


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Herezie, Wed, 05 Oct 2022 08:41:36 GMT