Today, we launch a new series called “Jump-start Your Job Search.” Over the coming months, BU Today will bring you short interviews with BU alums who are leaders in their field, such as banking, advertising, tech start-ups, journalism, or nonprofit organizations.
They’ll talk about how they got to be where they are, mistakes they’ve made, and what they’ve taken away from those mistakes. They’ll tell us what they look for when hiring and offer advice for those just embarking on a career.
Our first featured alum is David Lubars (CGS’78, COM’80), chief creative officer for advertising firm BBDO Worldwide and chairman of BBDO North America. In the advertising world, BBDO is ranked number one by such industry lists as the Gunn Report and Directory Big Won. Lubars’ team has won more than 100 Cannes Lions, the top prize given in the advertising industry. A series of short films he helped to create for BMW was the first-ever titanium winner at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and is part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. Under his leadership, BBDO has won Network of the Year at Cannes five times.
BU Today: When you went to BU, did you have an idea what you wanted to do for a career?
Lubars: Nope. You have to understand, BU wasn’t as good as it is now—I don’t think I’d even be accepted today. So you had a lot of kids meandering around, including me. I began as a history major, but didn’t see myself as an academic. Then journalism, which was interesting, until I saw what was going on across the hall at AdLab. A light went off and that was that.
What qualities do you look for in people you hire?
I’m looking for people sort of like me: people who think their work is never good enough, that it can always be better; they’re driven, crazy, insecure. It’s tough skin to live in, but the best people are that way. The old saying is true: “The best people are always terrified they’re about to be fired while the mediocre ones are always shocked when they are.”
What kinds of questions do you ask during an interview?
I ask candidates what they think a job with us will do for them that their present job doesn’t. If I can honestly answer, “Yes, if you join us, we can do that,” people come in pretty motivated.
What advice would you give someone interested in advertising?
Make sure you love the business. Truly and absolutely love it. Because, if you don’t, the day-to-day frustrations will overwhelm you.
What mistakes have you made during your career and what lessons have you learned from them?
There’ve been so many, where would I begin? But, overall, there’s no substitute for experience but experience—you make mistakes, you learn from them.
What advice would you give for the first day on the job? For the first six months?
Same advice for both: kill yourself and constantly go beyond whatever the assignment is to surprise and delight your bosses and clients.
Who’s had the greatest influence on your career? And why?
I’ve had several great influences, but the greatest was my father, Walter Lubars, the former dean of the College of Communication, and founder/creator of AdLab. This is a guy who understood creativity and how to apply it to business. But his most valuable gift was, as his thousands of former students attest, that he had an extraordinary way of bringing it across—a fantastic teacher.
Are you an alum who would like to be interviewed for BU Today’s “Jump-start Your Job Search” series? Email John O’Rourke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read other stories in our “Jump-start Your Job Search” series here.
December 11, 2019
November 25, 2019
October 21, 2019