Q&A: Wieden & Kennedy's Keesha Jean-Baptiste

The HR director of Portland's legendary ad agency spills the secrets to getting hired at WK.

By Zach Dundas October 1, 2013 Published in the October 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

When people ask, “How do I get hired at WK?” you say ... ? We hire people as people, first of all. When we look at portfolios, often people look the same on paper. Can I sit around and have beers with you? Will someone enjoy working with you at 2 a.m.?

So what sets people apart? Often, it’s their passions—what they do outside of work. We have a payroll supervisor who is also a filmmaker. In a creative company, everyone needs to contribute to the creative energy.

WK has six offices outside the US. Is a tattered passport an unspoken hiring requirement? What’s most important is curiosity about the world. Yes, it’d be great to know that you speak Brazilian Portuguese. But maybe someone hasn’t been all over the place, but they have the curiosity and mind-set to learn and adapt.

Does being in Portland make recruiting tougher? In advertising, taking people out of New York, London, Amsterdam, or LA can be hard. In Portland, our industry is comparatively narrow, so you have to be in it for your whole lifestyle. We bring people here to see the city and the culture; you have to have the experience before you can really take stock.

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