monna o'brien bio
"I create space for creative
to breathe."That means I manage the production process. I work to clear the “noise” so that creatives can do what they do best – focus on the creative.
I’m in awe of creative minds. I love helping those “thought bubbles” floating above creatives’ heads become a reality. I work tirelessly to bring the right resources and inspirations to the table. I facilitate communication among all parties. And I troubleshoot. Moms may have eyes in the back of their heads, but great producers see around corners. And, importantly, I know how to make a nickel spend like 15 cents. That’s critical.
I’m incredibly resourceful. And tenacious. Great producers never give up. And great production leaders never give up on their team or departments. I love what I do. And after 20+ years in the advertising industry, developing my skills in broadcast and post production, it hasn’t grown old.
There’s not much I haven’t done in this business – from producing award winning commercials and building teams, to repositioning a post-production company. I’ve even combined all that experience to consult directly with large brands like Gatorade and Walmart on their advertising spend at Advertising Production Resources.
As President of S2, (formerly known as Swell Studios - a long-heralded post production facility in Chicago) I oversaw a $5 million company with a staff of 35. The core of the business included creative editorial, teleciné, audio and graphic design for commercials and digital content.
Under my leadership, the S2 team was awarded a contract to produce a weekly 30-minute program for the Chicago Public Schools called “CPS Right Now!” This production began airing in April 2006 ran through the 2006/2007 school year on Chicago’s public access channel. It’s still one of my all-time favorite projects.Prior to taking the helm at Swell/S2, I spent nearly two decades at Ogilvy, where I worked my way up from Associate Producer to the Executive Director of Broadcast Production. My responsibilities included managing a department of 20+ professionals, and developing client relationships with major accounts such as Unilever, Sears, British Petroleum and Ameritrade. I produced nationally aired campaigns for these and other clients with budgets ranging from $50,000 to $2 million. In this role, I was also in charge of planning, production, budgets, schedules, locations, agency and client personnel, and I served as cost consultant for each of these productions. So yes, I know how to juggle a lot of balls.
Production is an area where the greater your experience, the greater the value you bring – to both agencies and clients. I’ve handled everything from large, complex international productions to working with teams at an agency startup. It’s all about delivering great production values at every size budget. In production, you learn to anticipate issues and head them off. Experience tells you to expect the unexpected in which case I remain calm and focused on the surface and paddle like heck below. Every issue has a solution. And once you’ve navigated a production through 9/11, nothing much rattles you.
As a certified life coach, I know how to resolve conflict and work toward “win-win” solutions. “Big picture” thinking is one of my strengths, along with loyalty, passion for the creative process, and a “can-do” spirit. As for where I feel most at home…well, I’ve lived in Chicago for the past 27 years, but have always felt at home wherever the job takes me. I am a fearless adventurer. It doesn’t take much encouragement for me to share photos from my recent trip to Africa.
Every job, every production, is a chance to discover something new. I can’t wait for the next leg of the journey to begin.
“Monna got to work immediately by establishing herself with the staff in terms of both authority and comradeship, She mixed direct communication, humor, perceptiveness, receptivity and decisiveness to achieve this, continually able to confront difficult problems without allowing relations to become adversarial. Monna consistently did her job with integrity and stamina; she remained loyal to me and to my vision even in difficult times”
“Monna is a top-notch producer who has a strong eye for creative work. She has a strong intuitive sense of what will and won't work. Monna's intuition also helps her understand people and how to get the best out of them.”
“Monna has the answer before most people even know there is a question. Very bright, resourceful, the Martha Stewart of broadcast production.”