Young Guns: Spark Foundry account manager Andrew Lim

By AdNews | 7 September 2017
Andrew Lim

Our Young Guns profile takes a weekly 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. Last week we spoke to Marcel associate creative director Leslie Sharpe.

Today speak to Spark Foundry account manager Andrew Lim.

How long have you been in the industry?

Three years, all at Publicis Media.

Duration in current role/time at the company:

A year and a half at Spark (previously named Mediavest). I joined as a programmatic media trader and am now an account manager on a planning team sitting across online and offline.

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

Working part time in a ski store, taking Japanese lessons and planning for a winter season in Japan. 

I was sending out a few half-hearted applications and didn’t know that I wanted to work in this industry until halfway through the first interview.

Define your job in one word:

Connector.

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

I didn’t have huge expectations, I was expecting a fairly casual environment with a good diverse range of people. Plus I was hoping to work in teams with a strong female presence where it wasn’t just a lad’s culture. Both have happened in this job.

How does the reality match up?

As I write this I’m leaning back in my chair with my feet up on the desk, sitting in a rainbow of an office that has a pretty good slice of society. It’s 4pm in the afternoon and we’re about to have some drinks at the bar.

At this moment in time, pretty spot on for me.

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

Spark Foundry is the newest media agency brand in the Publicis stable. We’re casual, plain-speaking and have little taste for bureaucracy.

I work as an account manager on the EA Games regional hub for Asia Pacific, the Middle East and South Africa. It’s really a bit of everything, we work with a huge amount of people across organisations, borders and timezones. Despite it all, the team handles it fantastically.

Best thing about the industry you work in:

We operate at this boggling intersection of culture, society, media, technology and business. We’re forced by the nature of our work to consider things broadly and from different points of view than our own.

Plus the fact that I turn up to work most days in t-shirts is priceless.

Any major hard learnings in the job so far?

You’ll put a lot of creativity, passion, thought and tons of work into ideas that will get dismissed with a frown and a shake of the head. There’s no need to take this personally.

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

I quite like sitting in a planning team as it’s a broad role, you really have the freedom to shape yourself.

At the moment, I’m trying to grab any opportunities that I can to learn more about data and analytics, to try to break apart the myth of a one-size-fits-all attribution model and instead understand how bespoke solutions for measurement get crafted.

What's exciting you about the industry right now?

That a lot of the old rules and assumptions are breaking, and how quickly innovations in one area are bleeding over to another. The developing ability of out-of-home vendors to sell on an impression-by-impression basis on an immediate audience signal springs to mind as one example.

What concerns you about the industry and its future?

It’s not a new idea, but this attitude of thinking about media and advertising as a commodity is outdated but pervasive. The generations coming through are simply too savvy, even if users aren’t actively blocking bad ads, they’re tuning them out.

We need to consider how our communications can be value adding, not just value extractive.

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

Catherine Limsam, account director extraordinaire and very much the Yin to my Yang.

She shares my taste for straight talk and a DIY attitude, covers my blind spots, and plows through obstacles – she is industrious, directed and always has my back. Shout-out to the crew at Spark Sydney by the way, bunch of legends – no duds in that office.

And your almighty mentor that you hope to dethrone?

I’ve always looked up to Lynn Chealander (ex-Vivaki ANZ VP) who combined a fierce intellect, a genuine spirit and a distaste for fluff. She treated her position as leader of a team as a responsibility and a pleasure.

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

It’s honestly far too hard to forecast these sorts of things - I hope I haven’t been replaced with a machine for starters. I’ll be happy if I’ve worked pretty hard and had some laughs with some good people along the way.

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

I really think the mental health of the people working in the industry gets a bit glazed over.

We hide it under the mask of a ‘work-hard play-hard’ culture that treats people staying back late at work as a badge of honour rather than an error in work design; and we balance out these long hours with bigger nights out.

Why are so many bright, intelligent graduates feeling burnt out in two years and leaving the industry?

Where do you turn for inspiration?

For me, it’s all about the power of a schedule and little things repeated over a long time.

My advice for others is to live a full life outside of work: commit to an exercise schedule, read widely and often, travel outside your comfort zone and foster your hobbies. I really think if you take care of yourself and feed your curiosity, everything else flows from there.

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

Maybe that my favourite ice cream flavor is plain old Vanilla (Maggie Beer one is pretty good – I have high tastes)

Favourite advert is:

Pretty much all the great beer ads from the nineties and noughties. They said so much about Australian culture.

What’s your personal motto?

Keep your own internal scorecard – everyone’s running their own race.

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

The building was nice, my interviewer was supremely smart, and she came wearing basketball shorts.

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

Teaching people the finer technical details of the snow-plough, and asking people how they like being on TV when they say they work in media.

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