Melinda Geertz

29 February 2024

Melinda Geertz had an almost four decade career with Leo Burnett.

“This is recognition that I would never, in my wildest dreams, have imagined,” she said at the AdNews Agency of the Year Awards Long Lunch at the SCG, Sydney, February 22, 2024. 

“It’s a bit surreal, to say the least, and I’m slightly overwhelmed. Thank you, AdNews. 

"This is an incredible honour. 

“And, of course, I want to thank my Leo Burnett friends and colleagues. I’m standing here because of you. 

“It takes a village – and over my 20 years of leadership, I worked with the most extraordinary people.  

“We cared ... deeply. About creativity. About the purpose and impact of our work. About originality and elevated human ideas. And we cared deeply about each other.” 

Geertz's induction was introduced by Lindsey Evans and Sarah Palmer.

Evans, the CEO of Special, said Geertz was the "one of the most inspiring humans and impactful leaders that we've had the privilege of knowing and working alongside in this industry".

She was "crazily impressive". 

"This person has had a career unlike any other I know, has earned enormous respect, admiration and affection from everyone whose life and career she has touched," said Evans.

Palmer said Geertz "believes in and fights for creativity and has a genuine passion for its power to change human behaviour, inspiring entire agencies and client partners to bring to life bold, positive ideas that challenge the status quo.  Ideas that can impact humankind".

She "created a culture by bringing her whole self to work way before that was even a thing and paved the way for countless others. This person is a trailblazer on the journey towards diversity, equity and inclusion ... [her] belief in respect and equality runs very deep".

"And it's not about being politically correct, or being seen as doing the right thing, but it's because it's better to people. And it's ... creating a more collaborative space in which everyone's beliefs and ideas are welcomed and valued."

She led a successful creative agency in Australia for 20 years, firstly out of Melbourne, and then taking on a national role, working for the same network.

She started in 1983 at Leo Burnett in Chicago, entering a management training program.

She stepped down as CEO of Leo Burnett Australia in 2021 after four years. Before that she was CEO of Leo Burnett Melbourne for 15 years.

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