Young Guns: Maxus digital manager, Will de Wit

By AdNews | 29 August 2016
Will de Wit

Our Young Guns profile takes a weekly look at some of the buzzing 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. Last week we spoke to Adshel marketing executive, Andrew Lowther.

­This week we head to Sydney to speak to Maxus digital manager Will de Wit.

How long have you been in the industry?

Five years. I worked for two-and-a-bit years at a boutique video publisher. I loved being publisher side but wanted to get a broader scope of the industry. I thought media agencies would give me the exposure I was after.

Duration in current role/time at the company:

Three years.

What were you doing before this job and how did you get this gig?

I started in a digital specialist role when I joined Maxus and then took on leading digital for our client, Hungry Jacks. I’ve been in this role for six months.

Define your job in one word:

Dynamic.

What were your real and cliché expectations of working in the industry?

I thought it was going to be quite creative. I imagined everyone would have their heads in the clouds and be sharing fluffy ideas as we all had a bit of a chuckle. I didn’t think it would be very strategic or numbers based. I admit I expected a lot of people playing hacky sack in the middle of the office. I thought it would be exciting and that I’d be on the forefront of new things. That much I was right about.

How does the reality match up?

I’m yet to see someone bust out the hacky sack, but I haven’t lost hope.

How would you describe what the company does and what does your role involve?

At Maxus, we work closely with our clients to help find solutions for the business challenges they’re dealing with. A lot of clients are grappling with what’s going on within media due to the fact it’s changing quite rapidly, so we help them navigate and make the right media decisions.

I often joke that my role is mostly putting out fires or clearing up digital misunderstandings. Of course, I like to think I do a bit more than that. I help our clients to navigate this fragmented landscape. I translate jargon into concepts. But ultimately, I’m here to get shit done. It’s one thing to talk about the possibilities of media but at some point, someone has to shut up and do it. I’m that guy.

Best thing about the industry you work in:

I am yet to find myself bored. There’s no filling in time. I also like that there’s not one right answer to a problem. There are different ways to skin the cat and that’s exciting. I like seeing a problem, create a solution then watch that come to fruition to deliver tangible results. It doesn’t hurt to have a beer in between. It’s not all work and no play.

Any major hard learnings in the job so far?

An important learning is that you can’t sell the dream and not deliver. There’s a lot of bullshit out there so you have to learn not to have the wool pulled over your eyes.

Another important lesson is that not every business problem is going to be solved with media.

If you had to switch over to another department, which would it be and why?

I think of it less as switching departments as the departments shifting. It’s already happening with digital becoming more integrated with other channels. It’s on a fast track to integrate into areas such as outdoor and TV. The lines are already blurring.

What's exciting you about the industry right now?

It isn’t exciting to see new ad opportunities, it’s more exciting to see new consumer behaviours. The adoption of TV on mobile, digital TV, virtual reality and the home entertainment space are all getting me excited.

What concerns you about the industry and its future?

I have a number of concerns for the industry. One is fragmentation and being unable to connect the dots. I’m fearful that agencies have to be careful to keep up and I’m concerned about false knowledge. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you know how to do it well.

Who's your right hand person/who guides you day to day?

The biggest support is from those that work directly with me in my team. The people who often do the grunt work, reporting, campaign set up, etcetera. Often they have the best answers. The answers don’t always come from the top.

From a leadership point of view, Ricky Chanana has been very inspiring, particularly as he moved from a digital-heavy role into a media investment position. This highlights how digital is integrating into other channels. The fact that people are recognising that is inspiring.

And your almighty mentor that you hope to dethrone?

Watch out, Ricky. I’m coming for you champ.

Career-wise, where do you see yourself in 2020 and how do you plan on getting there?

I’d like to be taking on further leadership challenges, whether that’s leading an agency’s digital investment or a client team. I’m going to get there by working hard and working with the right people on the right things. You’ve got to keep the momentum going.

What is the elephant in the room? The thing that no one is talking about – but they should be.

The rise of the tech giants. Will we all be working for Facebook or Google one day? It’s scary how diverse these companies have become in such a short space of time. Facebook was just a social network, but now it owns a VR company, an ad server, a video platform - what next?

Where do you turn for inspiration?

Personally, I turn to people who are close to me, such as my dad. While he will rarely understands my media jargon, he is always able to simplify a situation and provide an intelligent solution.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

My complete hatred for canned tuna. If anyone at Maxus is reading this, please stop eating it at your desk… it’s just gross.

Favourite advert is:

Being a digital person, you would expect my answer to be something cool like an app that ties your shoes for you. However, there’s nothing like a little advertising nostalgia. You can’t go wrong with the Smith’s chips Gobbledok ad:

What’s your personal motto?

A problem is just an opportunity in disguise.

I got into advertising/ad tech/marketing industry because:

Dumb story, but I always wanted to be in media, even when I was young. I was curious how those billboards got up. Then the digital age came, I learned how to design websites and I naturally fell into the digital space. I have always been fascinated with advertising.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:

Running my own pub.

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