Emerging leaders encourage CEOs to fight burnout within industry

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 31 October 2018
Michael Wretham, Olivia Warren, John Dawson and moderator, MediaCom's Gemma Hunter

Some of the industry's brightest emerging leaders have encouraged CEOs to continue to fight the burnout prevalent in agencies and embrace change in the industry.

Speaking at AdNews’ Lessons in Leadership event, Initiative communications design director John Dawson, Initiative head of brand experience Olivia Warren and Match & Wood communications director Michael Wretham shared their recommendations for CEOs looking to attract great young talent.

"We really need to work on that baptism of hire that happens in agencies," Wretham said.

"Most people in agencies today are familiar with what happens when you come through the door... I started in an agency in Perth and when I was there, I was handed a poster of a campaign I was going to work on, told to start it now and that it was due tomorrow with no introduction.

"We really need to get better at onboarding staff, especially with technology that is emerging now that people are still trying to understand."

Warren, who founded her own experiential agency in her 20s, views burnout as a really big issue in the industry and one that CEOs should be fighting if they want to retain staff. 

"There's a lot of burn out, especially with young people, which really shouldn't be the case at that age," she said.

"We need to work in wellness programs and offer certain kinds of meditation and flexibilities to make sure we retain that talent but also recruit it."

The trio, who were selected at random as part of our Emerging Leaders initiative launched this year, also voiced their concerns about the industry with moderator MediaCom Beyond Advertising ECD Gemma Hunter, questioning if they feared the state of flux facing agencies.

Dawson, who has been at Initiative for two years, said change isn't something that's siloed to agencies.

"While the headlines consistently speak to the demise of advertising and media and marketing, we're all still here. If you talk to people at our level, we're really excited about the future of the industry because we're not necessarily tied to the way things were and we see the possibilities of new technology," he said.

He said the younger voices in the industry tend to be more optimistic about the future of the industry. He joked that could be because they aren't privy to business P&Ls.

Emerging leaders advice for up-and-comers:

Warren: Don't sweat the small stuff, don't freak out when you make a mistake and focus on the bigger picture

Wretham: Understand that everyone is human and we're all humans working together rather than worry over small things. We're not saving lives, we're just putting ads on TV

Dawson: Fight for the opportunities - It's an incredible industry because it's there for the taking. The great ideas outwork the years of experience if you can show potential.

Emerging leaders advice for CEOs:

Warren: Have a really clear and well defined vision that makes people want to come and be part of that journey

Wretham: Be open to listening from the bottom of the business to the top

Dawson: Sell the opportunity to work on really great work

AdNews Live: Lessons in Leadership, was presented by MediaCom with supporting sponsors Commtract and TVSquared.

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