This social life

In conversation with… Helen Spencer, Planning Director at StratHouse

We had a chance to catch up with Strat House’s Helen Spencer recently.

I love what StratHouse is all about. Are they an Agency? No. Are they a consultancy? No. Sounds like they’re the people who actually get the work done!

What was your first-ever job?

Working in an off licence, the grandly named Le Chateau in Norwich. Spent a lot of time chatting to customers and trying to avoid cleaning the fridge.  

Who would you most love to share a coffee with / go for a drink with?

Phoebe Waller-Bridge tops my list at the moment, definitely drinks over coffee. Would be great to hear about her future projects.

Highlight of your career (so far?)

I got the chance to go to Boston for a month and work with the planning team at Arnold. It’s a brilliant city, full of interesting people. Felt proud I could make an impact in a short space of time. 

Nature or nurture?

I believe you’re shaped by both.

Best advice you ever heard or received?

‘Always look up’. A good nudge for a planner not to get too myopic, whether writing a brief or thinking more broadly about trends. 

What talent do you yearn for?

Languages. Always feel embarrassed when I awkwardly try and eek out a few words in something other than English. It’s such a valuable skill. 

What is your favourite brand and why?

Yorkshire tea. I like how they’ve successfully tapped into Yorkshire pride, identity and humour with their proposition. Always makes me smile when I see it in a friend from Yorkshire’s cupboard. I think they would feel disloyal buying anything else.

What book do you most recommend to others?

The Humans by Matt Haig. Fun to see human behaviour from an alien perspective. 

What last impressed you at work?

The Strat House team are rarely all in the same place, we work from clients’ offices, or home, as it fits. However, the sense of being a team hasn’t lessened. I think we’re closer now as we have to communicate more purposefully, and there’s always WhatsApp for those essential, nonessential chats.

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn? What failure did you learn the most from?

You can’t be helpful to everyone. There’s a tipping point if you keep saying yes, when you then end up not doing anything well. 

What do you want to do when you retire?

I feel very lucky that I’m able to take chunks of time off in between working, so I get little tasters now. Think I’ll probably carry on my trend of reading lots and travelling. 

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