BCG Brighthouse: A Career Conversation with Jeff Harter

What motivated you to join BCG BrightHouse?
I visited BrightHouse as it first opened while in school at UGA with the Ad Club. Our visit was brief but it stuck with me. It was unlike an agency and more like a fancy think tank. At the time, it was in its infancy and known for being an ideation corporation. As it continued to grow its reputation it also learned that the biggest idea of all is Purpose—the why behind companies’ decisions and the timeless North Star that will guide them forward. After graduation, I got my start as a designer in Atlanta and worked at agencies both big and small, working my way up to Creative Director, and all the while I kept tabs on BrightHouse. When my Group Creative Director left J. Walter Thompson to join BrightHouse it quickly became apparent that this could be a place for me too. I freelanced for a while during my nights and weekends, getting a taste for this bigger thinking and the freedom to truly dream. No longer did I have to limit my ideas to a banner ad, billboard, or a restrictive budget. BrightHouse influences and inspires the c-suite and creates deliverables that set large things in motion from concepting to branding, and from film to bold commitments. I joined full time nine years ago and have had the fortune to grow our creative department, help establish new offices around the globe, mentor both creatives and strategists, and continually elevating our output to increase our impact. Not only have I never been happier, I also felt the difference my contributions are making in the world which is a powerful reward I never could have imagined prior to joining BrightHouse.

How does BCG BrightHouse convey to employees a sense of belonging?
BCG BrightHouse has its own language and way of bringing eloquence to every occasion. Some of that unique verbiage includes our Purpose Principles and our Purpose. These offer the guardrails for our decisions as well as how we behave. Put simply, we live, love, and celebrate our team based on these principles. And, our Purpose provides the lens to inspire more meaningful actions. These critical pieces along with our desire to recruit from a diverse talent pool and ensure everyone gets to contribute and shape the future of BrightHouse makes this one special place to work. We are both friendly and treat each other like a fun family because we’re aligned and unified. We also look to make time with everyone on a regular basis and encourage our Thinkers to help build on ideas. We know that the key to greater creativity is through comfort and care.

In what ways has BCG BrightHouse supported your professional development and growth?
BCG BrightHouse is something truly special in how it cares for each and every employee to help bring out their best. I’ve been fortunate to receive an Advocate who assists across numerous levels so I can achieve my goals and reach for more. We are also able to try new things and explore unexpected spaces. We encourage one another and are always seeking new inputs which will inspire and influence our next output. Whether it’s a Luminary conversation, team celebration, creative outing, business trip, panel, or an internal ideation, we are constantly building on each of our strengths and the magic that comes from our collaboration.  

In what ways are you supported in maintaining a healthy work-life balance?
We are keen on learning our teams’ ways of working so we can support one another in and out of work. We kick off every project this way. We believe in everyone’s health and the time it takes for us to bring our best selves to our projects. We are adamant that everyone take their vacation days and when you’re out, you’re out. The team has you covered. I had never had this prior to joining BrightHouse. We also open ourselves up to feedback which we call “FeedForward” as it’s about having these suggestions we need to make what’s ahead better. Our review process is always ongoing with Advocates and Advees and there are two formal review periods per year which allow us to focus on the pieces which will enhance who we are and how we can elevate the team, our reputation, and ultimately, our trajectory.

How do you know that you’re making a difference/having an impact with the work that you do?
I was here before we were acquired by BCG so I have been able to see the difference from our scrappy crew of smart Thinkers working on a smaller scale and the growth we’ve had since. I’ve also had the privilege of seeing what our thinking can set in motion. From changing the culture at one of America’s largest employers to sparking a bold commitment with the inventor of the automobile to take a stand on carbon neutral manufacturing, we get to make an impact that’s much greater than a trophy or some other type of accolade. We are making the world better and brighter through the businesses we work closely with.

What makes you proud to represent BCG BrightHouse?
I’ve been here a while and always praise the team I work with—our business services team, strategists, and creatives inspire me. I am thrilled with all we’ve accomplished and how we continue to try new things and impress more companies around this planet with our thinking, research, rigor, ideas, sparks, magic, and the meaning behind each piece. And, we have a lot of fun too.

In what ways do you feel like you’ve grown since working for BCG BrightHouse?
I’ve learned how to better manage a team, to stay flexible, and to be more proactive in my approach. This has helped me lead sessions with c-suite leaders, laugh with CEOs, inspire a princess, and collaborate with a Minister in the Middle East. I’m lucky enough to build teams around the globe, mentor phenomenal souls, and work on brands I could have never imagined I would get to. I’ve also increased my creative thinking by pushing on the strategy to launch even greater deliverables.

What do you wish you had known about the professional world when you were a student?
Character counts. Heart wins. Be your best, lift others up, and don’t forget the small things—a meal can mean more than you know, celebrate your wins, and treasure those who help you unleash things you didn’t think were possible. And, always be on the lookout for the next thing. Stay curious. Don’t ever let a budget, timing, or person stop you from dreaming big. The world needs you. So push for better and don’t ever settle.

In thinking about emerging young professionals, what advice would you share to those seeking their first opportunities?
Showcase what makes you special. What interests do you have outside of your classwork? What are you passionate about? How have you delivered on this so far? What do you dream of? Why? Where’s the intersection between your strengths and the need in the world? What are you craving to do next? If these things are not coming through in how you apply yourself, take a moment and make sure you’re going after the thing you are most excited about. If there are gaps, that’s ok, just be honest with yourself as you’re on a journey and we are all a work in progress. Do not position yourself because of what you think they want to see. Show off yourself in the way you’re proud of. Be sure to tell the stories that reflect the person you are. Make sure your ideas come through and are clear for someone to follow. Often the final execution might not be all you wanted it to be but if you show the process and the true light, someone can see the merit and the magic. Process, doodles, and little ditties are there to paint the picture and frame the whole thing. Don’t be shy. Be you. And, stay true.

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