Reflecting on 20 years at cmb



By Janet Awon

Events Manager

For the longest while, PR Specialist Carla has been asking me to write something for the cmb blog. I’ve had many valid excuses—  too busy,  can’t write— but today the last day of 2016 as I sit in the quiet of my kitchen enjoying the solitude while the rest of my household sleeps, ham # 2 in the oven, ham # 1 (a gift from the agency) long devoured, me, well-rested having had the week off… I sit here looking ahead to 2017 pondering life without cmb and looking back at life at cmb over the last 20 years. So I thought I’d give the writing thing a shot.

People are sometimes baffled: how can anyone spend so many years at one company, and in advertising at that? Well, sometimes I’m baffled too, but having spent all these years here and still generally loving it says something about the company and the industry. I worked at a local bank for 18 years before coming to cmb. I made a mid-life decision at the age of 40-ish to leave the ‘lucrative’ banking industry for something more exciting. Materially, banking served its purpose but I couldn’t envisage myself going into my senior years running after people who wouldn’t pay their loans.


So the opportunity came— I call it divine intervention (though Mark White will vehemently scorn me for saying so). Somewhere out of the blue, I got a call for an interview at cmb (then C&B Advertising). I went, more out of curiosity, to a little hole-in-the-wall on Elizabeth Street where the EMA building now stands. Couldn’t even find the place. One of the interviews questions has stayed with me – why would a banker want to work in advertising?

Twenty years later, I say anyone can make it in advertising – it just takes the right attitude, some level of organisational ability, strong work ethic, and of course, a willingness to learn and experience. And I may have pioneered the change in hiring habits – some of our best talents have come from banking and insurance.

It’s true that advertising has been part of my social life (or maybe one has to look at it that way to survive) – whether organising, executing and participating in events like Stag STAGe, meeting popular entertainers, working at sporting events like Hardcore, organising and participating in school programmes for Lifebuoy Global Hand-Washing Day or bringing Christmas cheer delivering KFC to children and seniors. While these events may have meant working weekends, public holidays or after hours, they have brought much satisfaction and enjoyment to my life.


Today, just as then, I enjoy the excitement and satisfaction of seeing a project through from conception to birth. It really is like pregnancy – there’s excitement, discomfort, untold pain during labour and childbirth… but in the end, there is joy and the pain is forgotten…. Until the next project! It’s like an addiction – one gets a high from seeing a project come to fruition and so you keep going back for more (punishment?)

After 20 years, though, I am still happy to be working at cmb. I’ve been with the company through its lean years as a little Elizabeth Street hole-in-the-wall with a staff of 12 to the vibrant 40-strong institution it is today, still taking pride in excellent client service and creative ability. We are a family and to me that makes the difference. As with our own families, some choose to stay and some choose to leave in search of different opportunities. Whatever the choice, I believe that those who have left will always have fond memories and remain cmb-ers at heart. Perhaps that’s why I’m still here!


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