BBH’s Griffin Farley program gives aspiring strategists their first break


The director of strategy lost his battle with mesothelioma in 2013, and the agency has held a mentorship program in his honor ever since.

The 8th annual Griffin Farley’s Beautiful Minds program, an event that helps young professionals start careers in strategy, will continue this year -- albeit virtually.

The program, named in honor of Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) New York director of strategy Griffin Farley, who died of mesothelioma in 2013, is needed more than ever now that the coronavirus has hampered traditional recruiting methods. 

“One of the reasons we really wanted Beautiful Minds to go on this year is so many of the informal channels into the industry have dried up,” said Sarah Watson, chairman, global and NY chief strategy officer. “To be a junior person, you show up, you hang out, you get absorbed into the body of the agency, and that does not happen anymore.” 

This year’s Beautiful Minds program will feature a series of virtual sessions between Oct. 17-29, culminating in an online gala. Aspiring planners will gather online to hear speakers at the top of the profession address industry trends and share career insights.  

Young strategists will also assemble into teams to tackle a marketing challenge.  

In recent years, participants have been tasked with nonprofit communications challenges. Last year, for example, young strategists solved promotional issues for the Get In Touch Foundation’s Daisy Wheel app, which reminds women to do their monthly breast self-examinations. 

Judges will review the teams’ solutions and the best plans will be presented at the virtual Beautiful Minds’ gala, which industry employers will be invited to attend.  

“All the chief strategy officers, all the recruiters, all the heads of HR, they come ready to recruit,” said Watson. “This is a shop window and they are on the lookout for talent, particularly diverse talent.” 

Pre-COVID-19, the event would take place over three days, drawing teams, mentors and recruiters primarily from the New York City area. But going virtual has opened the program. This year’s aspiring strategists have already been selected, but BBH is extending an invitation to the virtual gala to agency CSOs and recruiters from across the U.S.

Watson, who was Farley’s boss, said the program would have been right up his alley. 

“We could have set up a foundation, a scholarship or an award, but that seemed a little bit self-aggrandizing for someone who was so incredibly unassuming,” said Watson. “Griffin’s true legacy was he was always helping young people get their first break. He was always having coffees with them and connecting people to his very wide network.”


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