Kiska Howell, EVP | Executive Business Lead at DDB

What has been the most challenging moment so far in your career?

 My first day in an agency. I went from being a high school teacher and dance coach, to an Assistant Account Executive at age 30. An early mid-life crisis and career change. I’ve spent every day since making up for lost time, using nothing but my drive, hunger, and pure love for the work to prove that I belong here. 


What is the very best feedback you’ve ever received?

Early in my career, someone I highly respected told me that I “shovel a lot of shit.” Interestingly enough, that simple phrase stuck with me and has become my daily mantra. I thrive when things get crazy chaotic, and messy—and am happiest when doing whatever necessary to get things where they need to be. 


What are you most proud of?  

I value most the relationships I’ve built, especially those with my creative peers. I like to think I push them to make work that has never been done before, work that we’ll be proud of for years to come. And while they may find me a bit demanding at first—or more than a bit, depending on who you ask—there’s no better feeling than winning a team over.


What makes for the best client & agency relationships? 

As our industry has gotten more and more competitive, client and agency relationships have become transactional and often lack trust in the creative process. But agencies cannot be “vendors”—we need to build a partnership rooted in candor, honesty, and real trust in a shared creative vision. If we’re working together, I’m going all in. We’ll be texting, debating, and pushing one another to build the business together.

By Sasha The Mensch