We had two new faces in the office last week – Renny Gleeson, Global Director of Interactive Strategy (Left, of course) and Sandi Hildreth (Right), Global Director of Human Resources. They came, hung out with some of us and got the complete W+K Delhi experience, including a visit to the dubiously lit Amsterdam bar just below our office.
Perfect time, we thought, to buy them a few rounds and ask them a few questions. Here’s the transcript.
Describe your first day at W+K?
Sandi: That was 20 years ago, so I don’t remember it specifically.
Renny: I still remember the magic of walking in the building and feeling that I had entered into a creative temple and I was there to worship.
Sandi: You know this is going on the blog.
Renny: Did that feel natural?
What’s your favourite restaurant in Portland and why?
S: Porque No? which is a Mexican taco-ria. It’s very Portland with interesting, funky decor and most of all they make pint sized Margaritas.
R: Bamboo Sushi! It’s the first sustainably harvested sushi restaurant. The fish is absolutely amazing and part of their business plan was invested in protecting several thousands of square miles of ocean to protecting and saving the environment. They believe in the whole circle of food and there’s this beautiful mural on the wall which shows the entire food chain from the smallest phytoplankton to the biggest organisms. And they are very conscious of their role in this as a restaurant which is not normally what you see and it’s great service and the food is amazing and it feels like everyone is not as special as you because they are not eating at Bamboo Sushi.
Actually don’t put that, it’s super pretentious. But it’s awesome.
Honestly not just best sushi in Portland but best sushi I have ever had.
Last book you read?
S: Life after life by Kate Atkinson
R: So I read things in parallel. Douglas Rushkov. it has to do with now (Present shock: when everything happens now), ‘The Great Indian Phonebook’ which goes through the history of the mobile ecosystem in India from original deployment, carrier, radio frequency distribution, negotiation, the politics, the corruption and the societal change it’s driving. Douglas Rushkov, is talking about how technology has compressed time in an interesting way and what that means socio culturally and then I just started reading Vernor Vinge, there are 2 amazing books, ‘A Deepness in the Sky’ and ‘A Fire upon the Deep’. Amazing sci – fi. There are some authors who are great an inhabiting other people like males who can write female parts and vice versa. He is able to write good alien species parts! Literally you find yourself caring about very oddly constructed life forms meaningfully.
Next up is Dave Eggers ‘The Circle’. That I will read on the next flight.
If you had to move to another office, which one and why?
S: I don’t want to answer that
R: Yeah, we’re not allowed to. That would show favouritism.
S: I love them all.
R: (sarcastically) I love them all.
S: They’re all my favourite, I cannot choose.
Mohit Jayal (who popped in): Never ask these global people these questions, they’re too slippery.
Five things you always carry with you?
S: Always carry a book with me, I always have my phone, I always have a lipstick.
MJ: A weapon?
S: No weapons.
R: So I’m pretty much the same. I’m just waiting on a different 5th item. Lipstick yes.
S: Yes! I saw that on you.
R: LL Cool J
S: And the normal stuff like my wallet, my ID.
R: So I moved 21 times before I was 15 and I’m only bringing that up because when you move that many times, it boils down to a box of 5 objects that I can bring along to these new places and make it my own.
And I’m not going to tell you what those objects are but it’s just interesting that you picked the five.
I’ll say mobile device, fountain pen (and it’s very critical to me that it’s a fountain pen because I like the physicality of it), a pile of index cards which I keep with a clip (not lined), my pebble watch (cannot literally go anywhere without it sadly) and well my laptop if it’s a normal day.
Renny, what’s your favourite campaign?
Oh you mean, creative advertising campaign? I’d still stay with Obama.
Do you think Google glasses will be the next iPad?
Will TV ever die?
And what’s an average day for you?
R: I don’t have average days and that’s why I love Wieden and Kennedy. I can’t predict my day and sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad.
S: Totally agree.
Facebook, twitter, instagram or something else?
R: Everyone of those serves a different function for me so that’s like asking my left hand, my right hand, my leg or my head. Though I would say the one that I could not do my job without from the list that you mentioned would be twitter. Literally could not do what I do without it. There’s a group of people that I follow and they follow me and we share information. It’s both my entertainment and information resource.
If say more of my friends were on Weibo, I would be using that one more. Because it’s more multifunctional from an image sharing perspective. And at the risk of being proved completely wrong, at some point we all might be using something which isn’t a US originated technology but more Chinese originated technology just because of the speed at which they are innovating and the cycles are much faster.
Sandi, you’ve been working at W+K for over 20 years, what’s changed and what’s stayed the same?
R: Good question.
S: That’s really hard to answer, because the main idea behind W+K is the same but the platforms that we have had to now create stories on and work with have completely changed. That’s so hard because so much has changed but so much has stayed the same.
R: Just to throw in a comment here, to me what’s interesting is that when Wieden started in Portland as a tiny little startup servicing Nike as a client, Dan will tell you that he never envisioned getting past 30 employees. And I think what’s interesting is that over that period of time, A) they never thought that it would get that big and B) they never thought that they would be able to find Wieden like DNA outside in the world. And what’s been truly amazing and it feels like in all these different cultures and different contexts and languages and historical experiences somehow there seems to be these people sprinkled across the world and that’s fuckin’ cool.
S: I absolutely agree, if you walk into any W+K office and you immediately know and feel that it’s W+K office.
R: Even if they don’t know that it’s a W+K office. Sometimes people wonder if it feels like a W+K for people who haven’t had the chance to go to other offices and the answer is yes! If you are working at a W+K office you are one of those people.
S: Not to say that every office feels the same, but there is this over arching W+K feeling and then each office has its own spirit.
Last question, what is an average day for you?
S: I make a list of things to do and then I don’t get any of it done. Every day is completely different and that’s why I come to work every day.