24 Hours with our MD, Suzie Shaw

Life at We Are Social

Our managing director, Suzie Shaw (@suzsha), was profiled in Mumbrella and they were kind enough to let us reproduce it here.

7:00am I try to exercise a few mornings a week and today it’s a spin session at Scenic Cycle in the city. On a recent trip to LA, I became a huge convert to Soul Cycle, and this is the nearest thing to it in Sydney.

It’s not quite as woo-hoo as Soul Cycle, but it does have bikes that track your performance and send you a summary immediately after. As someone who’s pretty competitive, I find it really motivating to try to beat the people either side of me.

Some days I win, most days I don’t, but either way, it puts a spring in my step to get an email telling me I’ve burnt 700 cals before 8:00am.


Coco can’t wait to tuck in.

8:00am On my way home to shower, I listen to a book (today it’s ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’, by Richard Flanagan). I have a brilliant app called Whisper Sync that enables me to seamlessly switch between Kindle and Audible as I get in and out of the car. Genius!

8:15am When I arrive home, the family is still in bed and I begin the process of preparing four completely different breakfasts. With three vegetarians and a vegan in the house, we’re somewhat special-needs eaters. Then there’s three separate bowls for the pets – a dog and two cats. While this may sound ridiculous, it’s my little attempt to alleviate working mother’s guilt… by being an attentive mother for the short time I am there.

9:00am I arrive at work with my little dog, Roxy, in tow. I receive a warmer than usual welcome from the team and note that I should bring her to work more often. I sit down at my desk to start work – probably the third time already today that I’ve scanned my emails and diary.

The first to figure out what to wear, the second to see if I missed anything while at the gym and now, the real work begins. Since we’re part of a global network, there’s often correspondence from overnight on email or on our intranet, for which we use Facebook Workplace.


Roxy waits for inspiration to strike.

It’s a brilliant tool, enabling the entire We Are Social network (600 people around the world) to share information about the industry, which is essential because social is constantly changing. There is news of a platform update, new tool or industry shaping-campaign every. Single. Day.

Today, I’m reading about how Snapchat is finally set to introduce an algorithm, which invariably means the largely free platform is likely to be heading to a largely paid one. Sigh!

9.30am I tune into is our daily trend briefing, put together by our editorial team.  It’s a rundown of what’s trending each day, to inform any reactive content we may want to create for clients.

In social, context is everything and having a finger firmly on the pulse of national consciousness is very important. I’m always surprised that what’s trending on Twitter is different to what’s trending on Facebook.

Today, Twitter is jumping with tweets about Hilary Clinton’s most memorable interview on Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis and Facebook is all about the celebs with news about Margot Robbie, Gigi Hadid, Adam Levine and the sad suicide of Mia Farrow’s son.

10:00am I stick my head into the weekly editorial meeting to discuss a couple of key campaigns in development for a forthcoming Netflix Original series, The Crown. Set to launch in early November, it’s the most expensive TV series ever made. Having seen a screener, I can tell you it’s as binge-worthy as any of Netflix’s best.

The team is reviewing an insights deck to try to identify relevant conversation or context hooks to develop the campaign around. Whilst Netflix is a global brand, they see the benefit of locally relevant insights to ensure the brand successfully assimilates here in Australia.

We’ve had great success by commenting on local news on behalf of the brand. One of the highlights was when we tweeted Malcolm Turnbull on behalf of Frank Underwood from House of Cards. Media and the internet went mad. The same happened when we produced a memorial for a cult character from Stranger Things. Rest In Peace, Barb.


10:30am Mid-morning I shoot out for a coffee with Simon Crerar, editor at BuzzFeed Australia. I try to regularly network with key publishers and people in the industry who are doing great things in the social space. I’m very interested to hear that BuzzFeed doesn’t have any digital display on their site: 100% of their revenue comes from native advertising, highlighting the sheer growth and scale of this new form of advertising.

11:30am It’s back to the office for a meeting with my finance director, Kirsty, to go through month-end and the forecast for the month ahead. We’ve exceeded our forecasts for the third consecutive month, but I’m under no illusions that the remainder of the year will be a walk in the park.

Noon: My next meeting is with Kym, our PR, to discuss the next SWIMM (Senior Women in Media and Marketing) event – Cocktails and Coding, at the Ivy Penthouse.


Decoded’s Kathryn Parsons (l) and Suzie Shaw at the SWIMM Cocktails and Coding event in Sydney.

We have managed to get Kathryn Parsons from #Decoded speaking, and secretly, I have a girl-crush on her. She’s one of the most infectious people I’ve ever met; despite being an absolute alpha-A-lister in the tech world, she’s incredibly warm and charming.

Having seen her present previously, I can tell you she’s one of the most bewitching people I’ve ever met, and it doesn’t hurt that she also looks like she’s just stepped off the catwalk either!


Senior Women in Media and Marketing (SWIMM) hear Parsons present on changing career streams.

SWIMM is a networking group I set up with a couple of friends, Andrea Ingham and Kate Constantine, on my return from spending 14 years in the UK and discovering there were so few women in leadership in Australia.

We’ve hosted some fantastic events, with recent speakers including David Gonski talking about ‘Getting Board Ready’, and Kath Viner (previously editor of The Guardian in Australia, now editor of The Guardian UK) talking about the journey of establishing The Guardian’s left-leaning voice in Australia and specifically her interview with Julia Gillard, following her departure from government.

12:30pm I head out for lunch with a former client who works in the travel business to discuss becoming a client of We Are Social.

My experience of new-business conversations at a social specialist agency has been illuminating – clients feel that they know more than their agency does about social, and they’re frustrated.


Roxy offers creative inspiration and emotional support to the team.

They want experts who can help them navigate the changing media landscape. We can certainly do that because we make it our business to stay one step ahead of the perpetual innovation and change and work with clients to make sure they’re making the most of relevant innovation and passing on the gimmicks.

2:00pm Back in the office, my dog is happy to see me and so too is the social committee, who want to discuss the Miami Vice-themed boat party planned for Christmas. I ask them to think about how we can make it more social. They scowl at me slightly because it’s something they realise they’re not allowed to argue with.

I sit down for a three-month review with our new strategy director, Carlos. He’s nailing it. Not only has he brought his broad strategic skills across social, digital and brand, but he’s incredibly empathetic and team oriented and really helping to build a great sense of camaraderie within the team.


We Are Social’s new strategy director Carlos ‘Killing It’ de Spinola.

3:00pm We then have a presentation from Vice on making great content. Their primary piece of advice – which comes straight from Kevin Smith at the top – is ‘make shit people care about’.

This session is one of a series of fortnightly presentations from external parties that we arrange, to continually upskill our team of 35 social specialists.

Another challenge of the constantly-changing social landscape is the need for perpetual professional development. It was a very inspiring session for the team, peppered with so many great examples of their incredibly powerful documentaries.

I need to reciprocate with a presentation for the Vice team on doing great social in a couple of weeks. Where do I begin?! Most likely with our two key principles: social is a value exchange and it’s not about creating content, it’s about creating conversation.

By mid-afternoon I’m relieved to be back at my desk for a moment so I can make another dent in my emails. One of our editors, Max, has shared a few serious funnies from Reddit, and I’ve been invited to 11 meetings since I was last at my desk.

4:30pm I’m not back at my desk for long, however, as it’s time for a creative review with our pitch team for a big electronics client. Creative reviews are the peak of my day. It’s still the part of my job that I love the most… assuming the work is good. And fortunately, this work is great. It’s based on real social insights, which always helps when the objective is to create conversation.

We’re in good shape for the pitch with nine ideas and at least four of them that I’d be genuinely disappointed if they didn’t see the light of day.

We decide to park a few that would exceed the budget or be impossible to deliver on deadline and agree to develop the others by visualising the concepts and developing content to tell the campaign stories.

6:00pm Before I leave the office, I jump on a Skype call with Will, one of our group account directors in London who heads up the business for the same big electronics client in the UK.

He likes our ideas and was very encouraging. One of them is similar to an activation we did for YouTube in London to activate a football tournament. He sends me a link to the film. It’s brilliant. I share it with the rest of the team for inspiration.

7:00pm Arriving home, I am met by the best welcoming party in the world. Two eager girls (Sophie, 13 and Coco, 10) are competing for first-hug. We all know this dance (which is, they jostle pretty seriously), but Sophie ultimately relents and lets Coco win, otherwise there will be tears.

And in the back row of the scrum is Roxy, excitedly reentering the house and mistakenly thinking they’re here to greet her. We let her think that.

We all debrief on the day. Coco’s was ‘amazing’. Sophie’s ‘sucked’. This pretty much sums them up. Coco is an aspiring actress, Sophie, editor of The Onion.

It’s not long before the excitement subsides and they return to their respective rooms and resume watching Netflix on their devices. I then check my social media: Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (usually in that order).

Instagram is mostly fashion I can’t afford and food healthier than I intend to eat, Snapchat is a series of snaps from European colleagues at Oktoberfest and the rest is largely a series of posts I give lazy-likes as I try to catch up on my feeds.

7:30pm Fortunately, I have a brilliant nanny who has fed the children before I get home, but I need to put something on the table for myself and my husband.

I love cooking, but not when I’ve just walked through the door and there’s only sliced cheese, hummus and kimchi in the fridge. My husband can do many things, but cooking is not one of them.

So I take a trip to our local Maloney’s, pick up some of their finest vegetables and return to rustle up something that qualifies me as an adequate wife – spinach and feta omelette with salad. We eat. We both try to keep our phones at bay, but the embargo lasts about as long as it takes us to put the food away.

9:30pm I’m back online for a monthly call with the We Are Social global board, located across seven different time-zones.

I wonder if it’s wrong to drink wine at a board meeting… especially when others are having espresso? I do it discreetly.

We talk about a number of initiatives that came out of our recent global summit – in the south of France immediately before Cannes. One of these is to establish a global Creative Council, which I need to help spearhead.

We also discuss the next summit, in Europe immediately prior to an annual event in the We Are Social calendar called We Are Skiing, when 300 employees from the European offices descend on the Italian Alps for a conference and a weekend of skiing. And après-skiing.

10:30pm I watch an episode of Planet Earth on Netflix with Sophie. She is an animal lover. Our primary source of communication is a continuous stream of dog memes that runs back and forth between us as DMs on Instagram. It’s really taught me a great lesson about communicating with your kids (or anyone, for that matter) – find a medium and message they respond well to and stick to it.

11:00pm I go back to my computer to scan daily media news (MediaREDEF is my absolute go-to source of aggregated news), and share interesting articles to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook@Work.

11:30pm I climb into bed alongside one husband, two brown cats and a dog. Alarm set, eye mask on, and I’m out.