Hoorah: McCann Melbourne has broken the male mould

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 10 October 2017
Lindsay Bennett

Movement has been rampant in the Melbourne creative market this year, with the arrival of Thinkerbell and The Monkeys as well as big changes in leadership at McCann and Clemenger. But there has been a common thread that hasn't gone unnoticed.

Most of the big moves in the past six months have had one thing in common; they have all been men (with the exception of Clemenger's Gayle While).

  •          The Monkeys Melbourne hired Clemenger’s Paul McMillan, Ant Keogh and Micheal Derepas 
  •          Deloitte poached McCann’s Adrian Mills, Matt Lawson and David Phillips
  •          Cummins trio Adam Ferrier, Jim Ingram and Ben Couzens started Thinkerbell, now backed by PwC

Today, McCann Melbourne has placed three women at the helm of the agency in a move that deserves to be recognised.

But McCann isn’t the only agency worth noting. There have been moves elsewhere that show the dial shifting, and hopefully a continuing trend, and it's worth a reminder of all the other senior women that have landed top jobs, showing that it is possible, and it is happening. 

Leo Burnett promoted Melinda Geertz to national CEO; The Hallway recently established its Melbourne ANZ team led by three senior women; DDB Sydney promoted its MD Nicole Taylor to CEO and hired a female ECD in Tara Ford, Clemenger Melbourne promoted Gayle While to the newly created role of deputy CEO, BWM Dentsu promoted Belinda Murray to MD and Amy Hollier to ECD, and Hazelle Klønhammer is leading new indie Ugly. Did I miss any? Drop me a line if there are other senior female hires to be included here.

Nicole Mandile, Anita Deutsch-Burley and Roshnie HegermanMcCann's new leadership team: Nicole Mandile, Anita Deutsch-Burley and Roshni Hegerman

Thinkerbell is yet to name its managing director but hopefully the rumours are true and former OMD managing director Margie Reid will join the three male founders and even the playing field.

There is still work to be done, with agencies with female-skewed leadership few and far between, but if you look beyond the consultancy/Melbourne moves of late, it seems the industry is making progress.

In the first survey released by The Agency Circle, which launched last year in response to frustrations around the lack of diversity in creative agencies, the 1200 responses painted an unsurprising picture of the diversity in Australian agencies.

There was a huge disconnect between the women at lower ranks compared to the CEO/MD roles.

CEO/MD roles were split 84% male and only 16% female, but the rest of the agency was split 53% female and 46% male, with 1% identifying as ‘other’.

Following the results, The Hallway, M&C Saatchi, Clemenger and Leo Burnett are among those that have boosted diversity within their agencies and all the agencies involved in the initiative are looking to improve their own results next survey.

The industry can swarm on negativity and diversity is a topic that is often surrounded by negative headlines. But not today.  


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