There’s a common misconception in the career world, that in order to work in the creative sectors you need to be artistically gifted, and to work in the STEM areas you only use logical and analytical thinking. It’s a stereotype, but so many of us wrongly believe that jobs that are traditionally for Arts and Humanities graduates can’t be accessed by anyone who hasn’t studied something traditionally creative.

But as part of our new pigeon-holing series, we’re looking at jobs you should consider even if you don’t think you have the ‘right’ type of skill-set.  Do you reckon it’s harder to work in advertising with maths and stats skills? You couldn’t be more wrong…

We spoke to Matt White, an advertising exec at top agency VCCP (you know, the ones responsible for O2’s amazing More For You campaign, Be More Dog, and most recently, Follow The Rabbit). Below, Matt shares his insight on how he has crafted a creative career with data and numerical skills and why you should head to VCCP’s summer Stat School  if you want to make just like him.

We’ve also looked at the science behind pigeon-holing ourselves at work, so you can shed the curse of the self-stereotyping once and for all.

Here’s how you can really work in advertising with maths and stats skills.

Is there any truth behind the idea that you have to be traditionally creative to work in advertising?

Data is becoming ever more important within the advertising and communications industry, and agencies need people with fresh numerical abilities – not just the more artistic types. That’s why VCCP launched their Stat School – they had an Ad School programme, but they noticed their industry’s demand for data talent.

This marks a departure from the more traditional way of thinking when it comes to creative careers. The Conversation reports that there is evidence to suggest that people can often be split into two types of thinkers - convergent and divergent, and this is why  many of us believe we’re only suited to certain types of roles.

Convergent thinking is focused on analytical and deductive reasoning and these thinkers are more likely to excel at science, whereas divergent thinking is more spontaneous and is often characterised by those who can think of multiple solutions for a problem and who often lean towards arts and humanities.

But remember that logical thinking doesn’t sit in polar opposites sector to artistic creativity and science has also shown that everyone uses both sides of the brain when performing any task. And employers are always on the look out for those who apply both skill-sets to a role, or, they’re keen to hire people who think differently to them to ensure they have a range of ideas and problem-solvers around.

Matt White from VCCP explains how you can work in advertising with maths and stats skills in a chat below

GTB: Can you tell me your job title and what you do on a daily basis?

Matt: “I’m a Data Planner. I head up measurement and analytics for Kin, VCCP’s social media and content arm. Broadly my team uses data to inform creative strategy, channel optimisation, and media planning. Whether it’s flight bookings, mobile surveys, Google search volumes, or TV viewing figures, we piece together whatever data we get our hands on to try to make sure that campaigns deliver strong content to the right people at the best time.

How did you get into your role?

“I studied Economics and Social Policy at the LSE, fully expecting to work for an investment bank or management consultancy. I did a couple of internships at banks and absolutely hated it. I found the work unbearably boring, despised wearing a suit, and couldn’t bear being at my desk for 6am every day. My mates at uni loved it, but I couldn’t do it. I went travelling to South America and my boyfriend sent me a link to a digital analytics agency. I applied in a dodgy internet café on the Galápagos Islands, got the job, and here I am a couple of agencies later.”

Do you think some numerical/data thinkers perceive advertising to be an industry only for writers and ‘creatives’? If so, why?

“I reckon a lot of people might not consider advertising or communications at first. At uni or early on in your career, you’re often not aware of the full range of options, but there’s so much out there. The job market’s changing so much – they reckon a hell of a lot of jobs that’ll exist in 10 years’ time haven’t been invented yet. There’s a hell of a lot of value to be added across industries for those who are good with numbers or coding. Advertising’s definitely one of those industries, and it’s increasingly becoming the case.”

What roles are in advertising for people who are interested in data?

“Data-driven roles are needed across the industry. Within the VCCP Partnership, we’ve got data specialists informing work in all major channels – that could be social, TV, search, retail, email, radio, print, PR, and many more. You might be helping easyJet choose what TV ads to put on their Instagram Stories, plotting the purchase journey of a Canon customer, or deciphering the personality differences between someone who opted for a mortgage with Nationwide over Santander. There’s a lot to explore and I’d strongly encourage dipping your toe in with Stat School to find out as much as you can.”

Don’t miss out on a space at the Stat School this summer…

Like this? How about…

How to teach yourself to be more creative

How different is advertising from Mad Men

Why advertising isn’t just for creatives