Every once in a while I receive emails about planner levels and how I measure them on the survey. We’re not exactly on a totem pole with each level reporting to the next.
And in terms of bodies, we’re not a pyramid either. The best analogy I can think of is the Christmas Tree Topper:
It’s not an exact science, but I’d like to let you know what these titles mean to me.
Assistant planners – this is your first job out of school
Planner – maybe you went to a special school or had enough internships to start here, but generally you have at least 2 years of work experience.
Senior Planner – you can now manage smaller accounts with less/little supervision or you are part of a larger team and your autonomy is growing. Wide range of years. Lots of people are happy staying here. In many countries this level may actually be called planning director on their business card.
Group Planning Director – this level doesn’t exist in many countries. A GPD could be a head of planning in a smaller agency, but when an agency is large enough, the GPD manages a few accounts and the planners working on each of those accounts but still has a planning boss above.
Planning Director – this is the top. This level is ultimately responsible for all of the accounts and all of the planners. They craft the agency’s vision on strategy. They are responsible for growing and developing planners, though much of the day to day may be delegated to the other levels.
Global Planning Director – Also called Chief Strategy Officer or Executive Strategy Director, this person is responsible for the overall strategy for several offices or even an entire agency network. There are very few of these jobs.
CEO/President – You came from a planner background and went and started your own thing. Or were promoted to the top of an agency or company. You’re responsible for the whole mess.