Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Inside Missouri: an interview with strategist, Casey Shepheard.

Whistle stop career journey 

My route to Missouri has been a little out of left field, although I think most strategists’ journeys are somewhat winding because the job can take so many forms. 

I studied civil engineering at undergrad where I got really into academic research. Instead of getting a job on graduation, I went on to keep studying for my PhD, also in engineering (I was looking at what happens to the ground when we build tunnels), and thought I’d stay in the field for good.

But the longer I studied, the less I wanted to be an engineer or stay in the world of academia. I still wanted to use some of the skills I’d developed, but combine them with something more creative, and do a job where I could see the results of my labour in a way I couldn’t in research. Creative strategy ticked all those boxes and luckily Missouri was looking for a Junior Strategist right at the time I was looking to become a Junior Strategist. They agreed that I’d be good at the work, and I’ve been here since summer 2023. Simple. 

How did your passion for research start?

I’ve always liked knowing a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff. As a kid, that means asking a whole ton of annoying questions. As an adult, that led me into getting really into academic research – figuring out things nobody knew before me. 

While I might not quite be presenting papers at academic conferences these days, I think a lot of the skills are very similar to those you need for strategy: gather information from many sources, synthesise the information, find where the gaps are, and draw conclusions.  

I also love a Wikipedia deep dive and a pub quiz. 

What do you think makes a great strategist?

Curiosity. A strategist’s output in a project is both what sets the creatives on a good path and what gets buy-in from clients as to why our work is right for them. But behind the scenes, before we build that pithy deck-upfront that everyone sees, is hours of research into the brand, field, and culture. So as a strategist you have to find that interesting. You need to be curious enough to ask weird questions and follow weird rabbit holes – they might be where the best ideas lie. 

What’s your biggest learning in the role?

I came into Missouri from a totally different field, so even just getting to grips with the lingo has been a real learning curve. But I think my most important lesson has been in how to structure a deck for a presentation that is not only informative but convincing. I’m still learning but I’m definitely better at it (I hope!) than when I started. 

What advice would you give someone looking to begin their career as a strategist?

Read a lot, both fiction and non-fiction. Listen to podcasts. Sign up to newsletters. Get your information from a range of sources. Be critical. 

All this has two big wins. First, as strategists we need to be super tapped into culture, so these are great ways of keeping your knowledge up to date. You might even start spotting new trends nobody is talking about yet. Second, a lot of great strategy comes down to great copywriting. Reading a lot will go a long way help you figure out how to write well. 

What campaign or experience has impressed you lately?

From a few months ago now, but I really liked the Arc’teryx ‘No Wasted Days’ campaign. I feel like a lot of sports and activewear brands have been creating really interesting work of late (shoutout to North Face’s ‘We’ve always got your back’ ad), but this one so perfectly encapsulates the brand idea. What is a raincoat but something that means you can do what you want, not wasting a day just because it’s wet out? They also commissioned a series of short films that they toured around as a mini film festival, all about how adventurers are living life outdoors – great tie-in activation.

Honourable mention also to last year’s Wimbledon campaign ‘Always Like Never Before’. Both a fun use of language and completely true to the tournament’s spirit. 

How do you keep yourself informed on trends?

I touched on this earlier, but I love a newsletter for keeping up to date. I get a variety of daily drops from newspapers and industry news sites (to keep generally informed), but I also love a Substack newsletter for keeping at the front of trends and a more editorial perspective. Some of my favourite Substacks at the moment are Snaxshot, Feed Me, Storythings, After School, and Culture Study

What’s one thing that surprised you that people don’t know about?

It’s nuts that in the UK education system we don’t learn anything about the British Empire in India. This podcast Empire by Anita Anand and William Dalrymple is such a good look into the occupation from the East India Company to the end of the occupation. Highly recommend.