Industry Profile: TAXI VP of Integrated Production Cynthia Heyd in Her Own Words

Cynthia Heyd joined TAXI in 2007 as VP, Integrated Production for all TAXI offices. In this capacity, she manages a motivated staff of producers covering all TV, radio and digital production needs. Cynthia has built an integrated production team and developed innovative production methods to problem-solve creative within any size budget. She oversees production and business needs on hundreds of productions on almost all continents.

Prior to her move to TAXI, Cynthia was the Director of Production and Resources for the English Television Network at the CBC. Cynthia has worked for 20 years in production at various agencies. She spent six years at BBDO, prior to the CBC, managing their broadcast department and a post-production facility, and also worked at Young & Rubicam in roles that varied from Producer to Department Manager. She has also worked on the Film Production side at the Partners Film Co. as a line producer

Cynthia chairs the Institute of Canadian Advertising's Broadcast Committee and been actively involved in industry issues and negotiation committees for union contracts with ACTRA. She is a graduate of Queen's University and Ryerson's Post-Graduate Journalism program.

Without further ado, Cynthia in her own words:

The Saturn Return Project: What attracted you to the advertising industry and how did you get started?
Cynthia Heyd: I started on the film side of the business right at the very, very bottom. There I learned how things worked and were put together, and watched many talented directors, producers and DOP’s create magic. I was hooked. Loved the energy and pace of the business right from the start and knew it was where I wanted to be. I was very lucky in that a lot of mentors helped me along the way and threw me into projects that allowed me to develop my production skills. I moved from film side to agency side early on to experience the full breadth of the project and have never looked back.

TSRP: What do you love most about your job?
CH: I love the challenges I am faced with every day. I love that even after 20 plus years, I am still learning. I love customizing teams and being part of the collaboration that solves the clients’ business issue, as well as create stories that are relevant to consumers, and compelling to watch and experience. One of the most exciting parts of my job is being faced with a project whereby no one quite knows how to get it done – and then the sparks start to fly.

TSRP: How have digital and social media tools affected the work you and your teams do?
CH: This has affected us in a huge way. The way we produced even a few short years ago is different than today. For the producers, it means having to be on top of new technologies and at the forefront of using new tools to get the job done. It also means we need to be closer to the strategy so we can adjust the work as we go and identify what works and what doesn’t.

TSRP: What challenges have the changes in the industry introduced into your day-to-day?
CH: When managing an integrated production department, I anticipate dangers and put out the fires – trust me, there are a lot. That might seem like we are not in control, but really it is a product of the fact that what we produce falls into new territory more often than not. I need to ensure things are moving forward in a smart fashion. I’d like to say in a safe way but that is not the case; if that was true we would never get anything interesting done. Risk management is becoming more important to manage through a project and things don’t always go as planned. As producers, that can be difficult to deal with.

Other obvious ones are smaller budgets and tighter timelines. The industry has changed enormously in the last few years so we are always faced with delivering more for less. While this is challenging and presenting us with a new norm (really that has been around for years now!) it means we have to be smarter and tighter as teams. This can be difficult, as our teams are getting bigger.

TSRP: What is your proudest career moment? 
CH: Building my team at TAXI is probably the most satisfying; it is a unique team with multiple skill sets that can handle any type of production. But I have to say some of my failures have been my proudest career moments! (I am not sure I want to list them here!) For me, being involved in projects that define new boundaries are most exciting and that is what we do at TAXI.

TSRP: What is your hope for the future?
CH: We are in such a time of change that it is exciting to be part of this industry. I for one am looking forward to taking our stories to new places. I love the interactivity that is appearing in other arenas such as interactive books and music – the creative possibilities for advertising are huge. The best part of a producer’s job is to find ways for this to happen. My hope for the future is to see more relevant and compelling storytelling on more screens!

Thanks to Cynthia for sharing her thoughts and perspective. Learn more about and from Cynthia at her Twitter feed, @CynthiaHeyd.

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