A week in the life of… Serviceplan ME’s Frances Valerie Bonifacio

The strategic planning director at Serviceplan Middle East reveals combining meeting-packed days with family time



Sunday

After the challenge of getting a 17 year-old out of bed and on his way to school, I run to the agency for our regular Sunday ‘crew meeting’. We update each other and make announcements, including a 10-minute presentation from a team member on a thought-provoking industry trend. This gives us plenty to process during the week and helps encourage our team to be bold, imaginative and structured. Later in the day I have two brainstorming sessions – one for an automotive client and one for a telecoms client. I have very little time to catch up on emails but I do manage to devour my RSS feed before sitting with creatives to rethink the approach for a client’s follow-up campaign.

Monday

We’re in the early stages of a pitch for a client based in Qatar so my morning is spent revisiting the preliminary thinking behind the required plan. I join a conference call between a UK-based PR agency and the consultant who initiated the agency synergies for this pitch. The call takes a little longer than expected but we end with a clear direction and concrete next steps. We’re a far stretch from the overall picture, however, so I retreat to my desk to map out my thoughts from the call’s discussion points. I then decide to relax and challenge the agency regulars to a couple of rounds of foosball before joining some internal review meetings. I cap my Monday with my regular church community group gathering.

Tuesday

I’m up at 3am to churn out a creative brief for a government campaign. It takes me roughly two hours to sift through my research before I end up with a proposition I am happy to run with. I feed the cats, sign my son’s school diary and prepare for a briefing session in the ‘war room’. The team doesn’t give me an easy time and challenges my thinking, leaving me more than glad to sit for another hour to refresh the brief accordingly. I take it to our head of creatives and reconvene the core team for a final briefing. This gives me another hour and a half to review a campaign presentation with a key account director before a meeting at the client’s offices. The meeting takes three hours, after which I drive back to the agency to sit with the managing partner for a debrief.

Wednesday

At 8am, the agency’s steering committee – comprising the managing partner, client servicing director, head of new business, two creative directors and myself – meet for breakfast. We take at least two hours discussing agency initiatives, away from the humdrum of daily operations. We head back to the office where I spend the whole day putting structure to and developing content for a two-day brand workshop we are to hold for a client in Jeddah. Although I intend to lock myself up in a room for that sole purpose, I allow myself to be pulled into some ad hoc discussions and quick brainstorming sessions every once in a while.

Thursday

It’s a big project feasibility planning day with our government client today, so we’ve earmarked a 12pm-1.30pm session at their offices. An hour and a half pre-planning huddle with the creative and social media teams produces a solid implementation plan that we then take to the client for heavy discussions. We come back with major reconsiderations so we hold a post-client huddle and leave the teams to work individually. I then join an account manager on a video conference with our offices in Belgium for an international pitch needing our regional input. As soon as we wrap up, we call the team into the boardroom for cake and pastries to celebrate the birthday of our studio manager the day before. The day and the week then ends with more jostling among the agency’s fooseball fanatics.

Friday

Friday is church and family day for me. Today, I can sit through the entire service unlike last week where I was lead teacher to the eight and nine-year-old girls at Sunday school. Post church is usually lunch at my son’s chosen venue, followed by substantial time at the bookstore before heading home for some Kindle-reading time. Most Friday evenings I stay at home, but tonight we are celebrating a friend’s birthday over dinner.

Saturday

I enjoy a late morning sleep-in before heading out to my discipleship sessions with my spiritual mentors. In the afternoon I run errands and enjoy some coffee meetings with friends before spending time with my son in the evening.