As regional chairman of M&C Saatchi, the secret to 56-year-old Tom Dery's success lies in his ability to address client needs - after all, he used to be one.
After beginning his career as a commercial trainee at Qantas, mastering the ropes of business management, Dery rose to market research manager but left to complete a masters in business administration at Stanford University. Dery's influence on the Australian advertising landscape cannot be underestimated. He has been intimately involved in the set-up of three major ad agency brands in Australia over the past three decades. Along with Gordon Trembath and Lionel Hunt, Dery helped set up The Campaign Palace. He left after four years with a 10% share in the agency, which he has since off-loaded. After a stint with the now defunct Ansett as assistant general manager, Dery again moved on. He set up a second agency with Scott Whybin and Chris Barnes, Whybin Dery Barnes. The trio later parted ways when the agency was sold to DDB Needham and Dery accepted a position as director of the combined company, showing his flair for the industry by quickly raising the agency's billings to $45 million. The self-described salesman joined M&C Saatchi when it was a start-up in 1995. In his role as Asia Pacific chairman, Dery is driving the network's expansion into Asia, with the take-over of a Bangkok agency, Spaulding & Co, last year a prime example. "M&C Saatchi floated with the aim to grow our network particularly in Asia," Dery said at the time. Dery has overseen some significant wins at M&C Saatchi, including Optus and Woolworths, but the latest - Tourism Australia - is the highest profile win, not least because of accusations that Dery's relationship with Tourism Australia director of marketing Ian Macfarlane had tipped the deal M&C Saatchi's way.
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