Clare Donald: the chief production officer at Ogilvy & Mather
Clare Donald: the chief production officer at Ogilvy & Mather
A view from Clare Donald

Clare Donald's secret work weapon is a detour in the face of panic

Ogilvy & Mather's chief production officer explains why a short detour is her secret work weapon.

It’s a typical Wednesday morning at Sea Containers. Just imagine… we’ve got a new client in the building and the ECD has the norovirus; we’ve got two pitches with amazing creative potential – and only one week between them; a couple of creative teams are away on shoots – one with weather issues, one with French traffic control on strike.

There is a pre-production meeting in an hour and the printer has run out of toner. Around me, my dear colleagues are starting to look green around the gills.

OK, I’m exaggerating. But everyone knows that agency life can be stressful and that the thing people look for in their production team is calm – the ability to make everyone feel that all will be well, no problem is too great to solve and the rainbow is just around the corner.

We are the ad world’s fixers. So what’s my secret weapon?

People more often than not respond to problems and tension in the workplace by trying to find quick fixes.

The knee-jerk reaction is usually to seek out the fastest way to make the most visible signs of malfunction disappear. But instant solutions are rarely the best. So how do I block this "sticking tape" default response? How do I fight the clamour for poorly considered celerity?

Here’s my trick: I switch off and do something daft. For about three minutes. I top up my daughter’s lunch money, or I zone out wincing at parkour fails on YouTube (ouch), or I buy those shoes… I take a long, hard look at panic and throw retail therapy and trivia in its face.

I simply refuse to get sucked in. Those few minutes are my way of taking a deep breath. The conscious diversion gives me a critical moment to pause and, when I return to the situation, I come back with perspective. And that’s how I figure out a plan. Works every time.

Clare Donald is the chief production officer at Ogilvy & Mather.