One Under 30: Young Marketer Spotlight – Vanessa Gu

Highlighting young talent in the ad world – one person at a time.

As part of an ongoing series highlighting young talent in the industry, Branding in Asia presents “One Under 30” – a special feature that focuses on up-and-coming talent in the ad world, one person at a time.

This week we talk to Vanessa Gu, Media Planning Executive at Essence in China.

Over the course of our conversation, she talks about how she got her first break in the industry, what she loves about the work, what she doesn’t like about it, and more.


The Basics

Name: Vanessa Gu
Age: 25
Agency: Essence
Position: Media Planning Executive, China
Hometown: Shanghai, China
Current Location: Shanghai, China
Education: Shanghai Normal University, China, Bachelor of Science degree in Assets Appraisal, 2019 University of Leeds, United Kingdom, Master of Science degree in Management Consulting, 2020

Seven Questions

How did you get your first break in the industry?

While I had earlier internships in the healthcare, consulting, and financial services industries, some of my friends did their internships at media and advertising agencies as part of their school curriculum. All of them said they had a fantastic experience, and that piqued my interest and motivated me to explore this industry as well. So when my friends told me about my current role, I applied for it without hesitation. Fortunately, the interview went really well, and the rest is history!

What is your personal mantra?

Take one step at a time.

From what person, place or thing have you drawn your greatest creative inspiration?

A park is always a good choice for me to draw creative inspiration, as a silent place can help me to focus on my inner self.


What do you love about the job?

In my role, I am the liaison between brand marketers and the agency. To succeed in this role, I must be able to anticipate potential issues or obstacles, have good project management skills to keep everyone from both the client and agency sides on track, and prioritise the work that matters most at any given point in time. It is a tremendous responsibility, but at the same time, great fun!

While digital transformation is happening everywhere, it is happening significantly more rapidly in our industry, presenting diverse challenges that allow for tremendous growth. Additionally, I became very involved in data and analytics work, and this gave me the chance to explore a new field and pick up a new skill. I love how my work challenges me to grow and there is never a dull moment. I eventually overcome each challenge that I face, and in doing so, it brings me great joy and satisfaction knowing that I am growing professionally.

An important factor that helps me succeed in my role is the helping hand that my colleagues extend to me. They have been extremely gracious and nurturing in expanding my professional knowledge about my job and the industry, and have given me very useful advice when it comes to work. They have also given me the opportunity to contribute to ongoing campaigns, and have been very patient in guiding me and answering my questions at work.

What about your job are you not so crazy about?

This is a tough question because I love my job and enjoy most aspects of it, however, I do like to think about improvements that can be made in the future. Initially, I did not enjoy multi-tasking because when I tried to complete too many tasks at the same time, it made me feel like I was in a flurry and I felt quite anxious about the tasks that I had not yet completed. However, I realised that multi-tasking was unavoidable and that there were good reasons for doing so. Now, I make a to-do list every day and set the priority level for each task according to its relative importance. This helps me a lot and I am very thankful for the experience, which has improved my management of different tasks and my multi-tasking skills.

What is some work you’ve done that you’re most proud of?

In my current role, data and analytics are at the heart of what I do, and the intelligent use of tools and technology, as well as the agency culture of experimentation and learning are a huge part of this process. I always feel proud sharing about my job, for example, I am involved in the weekly analysis of data in media campaign reports. These reports are presented to clients to share the performance of each media platform, and my team recommends optimisation measures to continually improve the campaigns. From this work, I am able to better understand the complex and ever-changing media landscape in China, the different media channels and how they all work. This is my favourite activity because it enables me to gain an in-depth insight into the industry and hone my expertise.

As for a campaign that I am most proud of, we partnered with Google Arts & Culture to launch the Simatai Great Wall project, which uses Google’s augmented reality technology to enable people to explore the wonders of Simatai, a section of the Great Wall of China. It showcases how digital technology can help present the beauty of the architecture and preserve the cultural heritage of the Great Wall. As part of the campaign, I worked with key opinion leaders on reviews that were featured in both offline and online activities. I was also involved in media campaign planning and performance analysis.

If you had to choose another career what would it be?

I love my job and I am very happy with my career but if I had to choose another career, I would be a piano teacher. I would arrange lessons for my students in a way that would enable my working hours to be highly flexible. This would give me a lot of free time to spend on my hobbies and interests, such as traveling, painting, hanging out with my friends and getting involved in creative activities. It would allow me to strike a wonderful balance between work and play.

Picture of Bobby McGill

Bobby McGill

Bobby is the founder and publisher of Branding in Asia.

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