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Lisa Tanner, SVP, Group Account Director, RPA

Posted By ThinkLA, Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

I actually lucked into the business! I didn’t really know much about advertising or the different departments, and I had a friend of a friend who worked at GSD&M in Austin TX, which is where I moved after I graduated college in Boulder, CO. I accepted an unpaid internship in account management at the agency, and a few weeks in someone unexpectedly quit and they needed someone right away. No better description of “being in the right place at the right time”! From there, I have worked in both account management and new business and both suit my personality. I’ve worked for mostly big agencies in my career on brands like Land Rover, AT&T, GM, DIRECTV, US Olympic Committee, YMCA, Marriott, and AmEx, to name a few. I currently run the Farmers Insurance account, so I certainly can say I lucked into the right department… and career!

What has been an important, perhaps the most important, lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?

Don’t compare yourself to others.
That’s probably what I think about most now that I am more senior in my career. It was a hard and long lesson to learn, and I try to teach that to people around me often. We are all on our own career path, and sometimes things don’t happen the same way for everyone; and that’s okay. Trusting you are on your own, right path allows you to learn so much more about yourself, your workstyle, the industry, your clients.

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

What keeps me motivated is continuing to be challenged on a daily basis: challenged by my peers, by growing my awesome team, by constantly being hungry to learn more about advertising, what makes great creative work, consumer behavior, media consumption, etc. When I ever stop being challenged or rewarded at the end of each day is when I need to start looking for a new job. I’ve been doing it a while and that hasn’t happened too many times! It’s also not too bad to win a few awards and have your ad campaign become part of pop culture.

What excites you most about this industry?

Where to begin? It’s exciting to see how the agency model has shifted since I started my career and learn how best I can adapt to it and still be current. It’s exciting to see ideas that don’t cost a lot or have to air during the Super Bowl to get traction and acclaim, like Fearless Girl. It’s exciting that the discussion about woman executive leaders is finally happening and that I am in a position to participate and hopefully make a difference. It’s exciting to see what impact advertising really can and does have on our client’s business in real time based on analytics and technology. It’s an exciting time for this . industry, and I am happy to be along for the ride.



Photos: Don Lupo Photography


Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

It’s a complex question and one I think we will all be surprised to watch. TV is not going away, Super Bowl TV ads won’t be the end-all be-all, and we will continue to be geo-targeted for all the habits we exhibit online or things we say to one another. Clients will look to their agencies more as partners and less as vendors, and the full-service agency models will have to turn a corner to be more nimble and cost-effective as content continues to be king. Having everything in one office seems to be the way things are leaning again, which makes such a big difference to get great work and efficiencies all in one place.

What advice do you have for female ad professionals who are beginning their careers?

Have a voice early in your career and establish yourself as a leader and someone who deserves a seat at the table. Know what you are worth and ask for it. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

What’s been one of your favorite ThinkLA memories?

The first year I started with ThinkLA, I taught an Account Management 101 class and it was so rewarding to feel like I was making a difference to someone starting out in their career. The feedback I got was so positive, it only confirmed that mentoring and helping people around me grow, learn, and move up is one of the best things about my job. But I’m not gonna lie: the Award Show Gala after-parties never disappoint!

Any closing thoughts for the ThinkLA community?

For L.A. to continue the momentum we have as a creative hub of the world, we need to keep taking it to the next level and pushing the envelope. There is so much talent and energy in the community right now; I want to make sure people participate and have a voice in keeping us at the top of the game.


Lisa Tanner is SVP, Group Account Director at RPA and serves on the ThinkLA IDEA Council.

Tags:  #thinkmembers  Ad Club  Advanced TV  Idea  LA advertising  samsung ads  think members  thinkla idea council 

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