Young Gun: Publicis Sapient senior strategist Thomas Cleary

25 July 2019

Our Young Gun profile takes a look at some of the young talent across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles, people and companies across the buzzing industry.

Today we speak to Publicis Sapient senior strategist Thomas Cleary.

Time in current role/time at the company:
Three and a half years.

How long have you been in the industry?
Three and a half years.

How did you get here? Was this always the plan?
I originally wanted to be a comms planner, and entered the industry through The Communications Council graduate program. I won the APG Planning Idol back in 2017, but the work has evolved and I now get more of a kick from helping clients reconfigure their products and services, or build entirely new ones.

Who is your right-hand person/who guides you day to day?
Client experts. They’re pure gold and brimming with deep insights. I’ll usually have a number embedded in my team to help us navigate a problem space. The biggest shift for me was realising that my role wasn’t to necessarily come up with solutions, but empower clients to do so.

What’s the best thing about the industry you work in?
Velocity of change. If we’re not changing fast then we have no hope of helping our clients do so. We see this right the way through from the technologies we use, methodologies we employ, to job titles we have.

And the biggest challenge?
Having an informed point of view across diverse industries and problem spaces. Anyone can have one, but ensuring it has rigour requires time and an unequivocal commitment to learning.

Whose job have you set your sights on in the future?
I want to run my own business. I’ve always admired Faris Yakob who is a self-described nomadic consultant with his wife Rosie. They lead a pretty fascinating life.

Where do you turn for inspiration?
Prior to consulting I ran cocktail bars. Alcohol is full of history, character, and unsuspecting combinations - the perfect ingredients for creativity and great ideas.

My favourite advert is:
The Great Wall of China (Telstra 2006). It’s incredibly simple and underpinned by a powerful insight into parents’ fears of their kids getting left behind.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
They probably know too much. I have the TV taste of a geriatric; I’ve been on Gardening Australia and love Antiques Roadshow.

In five years' time I'll be:
Enjoying living in NY with my partner. 

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