Stefan Kaminski, Client Director
Kendra RogersHead of Insight & Strategy
My latest conversation was with Stefan Kaminski, Client Director at psLondon.
Stefan’s management consultancy background and unwavering focus on pushing boundaries, both personally and for our clients, make him a vital part of the psLondon team. I wanted to understand what drives him, as well as hopefully picking up a few tips from his interest in healthy living.
As always, we started with what he does at psLondon.
SK: I’m a Client Director at psLondon. That means I’m responsible for the day-to-day management of a number of our projects for our FinTech, charity, and education clients. So, I’m the guy who acts as the conduit between strategy, creative, and the client.
I make sure that projects happen on time, to budget, that everybody’s happy and that we’re moving towards the client’s objectives. I also spend a lot of time speaking to our clients to find out what their challenges are and see how we can solve them over the short term and medium term.
Stefan’s skillset and attitude seem like such a natural fit for his role, but I wondered whether advertising and agency life was always the direction that he saw his career going.
SK: Oh, not at all. I studied Management and French and when I graduated at the end of uni, all of my friends were joining corporate grad schemes. So naturally, that’s what I did. I joined a management consultancy company.
“I learnt so much on my graduate scheme, but realised in the end that the corporate consultancy world wasn’t really for me.”
I started doing some research into marketing, and it felt right. You know, the agency culture seemed like the ideal work environment for me, but also, I realised that I do actually enjoy interacting with and being part of the creative process. I can relate more to this output, which for me means that I can motivate myself to work harder to deliver it. It was the best move that could have made, I think.
Since the majority of Stefan’s work sits across the B2B space, surely his background in management consultancy was useful? I asked whether this presented a kind of ‘best of both worlds’ scenario.
SK: I think so. Having the experience of working with large blue-chip companies helped me understand how they operate, what corporate culture was like, and how to conduct myself in that sort of environment. I learned how to work with PowerPoint and Excel and how to present in front of people. I had a grounding in the core competencies that you need to survive in the corporate world. These are experiences that I can bring to the table with our clients today.
“At psLondon, each of us brings a unique set of experiences, so everyone comes at things from different angles.”
I can bring a bit of ‘suit’ to a meeting, but one of the reasons why I’m so much happier in the agency environment is that I feel I can express myself a lot more here. The clothes are actually a nice metaphor for it: when I’m in a suit, I feel a bit more constricted in terms of the way I can operate, but in the agency world, the dress code is more relaxed, which gives me more freedom to be myself. I’m more comfortable in this environment.
I don’t want to knock the other side of things, because it is for some people and not for others. I was just lucky enough to realise that it wasn’t for me at the right time in my life.
Within our office, Stefan is by far the most health-conscious person. I asked him whether he’d always had that kind of lifestyle, or whether it was a recent discovery.
SK: I haven’t always had the lifestyle that I have now, but I guess I’ve always been into self-improvement. When I was 18, I remember reading studies about what makes people happy, thinking about which little habits I could incorporate into my own life to be healthier and more content. And I think it’s a gradual process that I started settling into in my late twenties.
I’ve always loved the feeling that exercise and playing sport gives me. And, you know, you get different things from different activities. For example, football is very much a team activity and I really love the social element of it, communicating with teammates, building that camaraderie. Then you’ve got running, cycling, or swimming where it’s all about how much effort you put in. How well you perform is completely dependent on how much you work. That test strengthens both your mental and physical capacity.
“All the habits and behaviours that I’ve accumulated over the past decade come together to create the lifestyle I have today.”
When I first joined psLondon, I noticed that each morning, Stefan would say, “Okay, it’s time for a carrot break”, and would offer everybody a carrot. It was a great way to bring people together to share a healthy snack. I mentioned my observations.
SK: What you picked up on is 100%, an unintentional by-product of me just trying to refuel in an efficient way. Carrots are cheap, nutritious, and stay within date for a long time, so I’ve built them into my routine! I also eat a handful of walnuts each afternoon because they’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids – good food for the brain.
The sharing part is my opportunity to give you guys a little bit of that. I appreciate that everyone lives their life differently, but I’d love my colleagues to come on the journey as well because of how I know eating healthily makes me feel.
I’d gotten a better sense of just how important exercise and routine are to Stefan, and the ways he looks to share that with his colleagues, but I wanted to know whether he thought it fed directly into the work he does. I had a feeling it might do.
SK: I think sport and exercise have helped me build my mental strength and resilience, which then translates into the way I approach my work. I’d like to think I’ve cultivated an attitude that keeps me thinking positively and helps me succeed.
There’s also a piece about planning, I think. Building a healthy lifestyle is about paying attention to the short term and the long term, right? Over time, you can gradually establish positive habits and behaviours and try to cultivate the kind of mindset that will help you overcome challenges. But then in the short term, it’s about practicing those habits and executing to the best of your ability. We use a similar approach with clients when it comes to managing their brands.
“Ultimately, all I can do is try my best.”
Finally, I wanted some advice. Given how much time Stefan spends running and cycling around London, I was interested to hear whether he had any favourite routes that I could try out.
SK: I often run around Victoria Park. Running throughout the year, you get to see the park change: you run when there’s snow, when there’s wind, and when there’s rain, but then you also run when the spring brings the leaves back to the trees and everything’s blooming, and you run when it’s hot in the summer. I like seeing the seasons change. Going to the same place connects you with the world around you, with nature.
I like running by the river too, around the Embankment especially. You can run past all of these amazing landmarks and beautiful sights. I remember how excited I always used to get going into central London when I was younger - getting the tube in, seeing the river, and feeling the buzz of the city. I still get that. This is the centre of the world and home for me. I love the energy and the history behind it all.
Here are Stefan's favourite running routes: