In Conversation - Simon Hadfield talks to Jasmin Bedir

10 July 2024
Simon Hadfield.

An occasional column with Simon Hadfield, Executive Partner at DMCG Global, an executive search and recruitment business.

This time it is Jasmin Bedir – CEO @ Innocean

You took the reins of Innocean in 2020 and implemented some wholesale changes across the business. The work has since improved dramatically, and it seems you have some real momentum. How has it been?

Honestly, it has been a lot harder than I ever imagined. I always joke with the team, that we’re now at version 4.0 of the agency  - turning an established agency brand into something entirely different within the confines of a global organisation, required so much tinkering and gradual changes which made it take so much longer than what I was hoping for, but it can be done.  
People feel proud to work for Innocean, clients love and choose to work with us, the work has gotten so incredibly tight, and the agency now has a clear identity as an agency that solves complex end to end communications problems no matter the category. And we have a set of clear values and identity that people can buy into.

When I look back I see how far we have come, but it was admittedly a very hard slog.

I assume the ongoing challenge for you and Wez is to break the mould of being known as the Kia / Hyundai agency. On one hand it must be nice to have a large, stable client, however on the flipside I’m sure it would be rewarding to land some other chunky pieces of business?

That challenge was so much bigger than I anticipated, and still baffles me till today. We have attracted world class talent that come with an incredible breadth of category experience so really our skillset was on par if not better than competitors, yet no one wanted to even chat to us at the beginning.

I have concluded that the agency wasn’t standing for anything in particular, so the industry came up with their own definition and changing that into something clients can buy into really has been the constant task at hand for me. The good news is that we now have a breadth of clients that is constantly growing, and there is real momentum for us as we can show those case studies, and all of the accolades we have received of late.

You’re quite vocal in the industry, particularly with Fck the Cupcakes. Talk me through it.

I believe that with privilege comes the responsibility to do better and give back. My personal story of how I grew up as the daughter of a poor Turkish migrant and a WW2 survivor is a complicated one, yet it has given me a different perspective of how a level playing field (in my case in form of a free education system back home) and inclusion can make all the difference.

As someone that doesn’t speak English as their first language and is a double migrant & woman and is somewhat of a success story in this industry, I feel a strong sense of obligation to extend the ladder down, or even build that ladder if you will.
My way of doing this is by speaking up on things that matter to me, like equality, inclusion, but also things that structurally aren’t working for us as an industry. Getting to where I am today, was really lonely and pretty hard at times.
I’ve had a lot of feedback that has confirmed for me that someone like me speaking up inspires others to step up and it gives hope to a younger generation, which we really desperately need in this industry.

Any work you’ve seen recently that you admire?

I love our industry so much, and love to geek out on effectiveness case studies. My favourite work is usually creative where you can see how long term strategy and creative execution are on point. There are a few brands in Australia that do this well.

I currently love the work from the team at Michael Hill in particular. Some super smart thinking has gone into turning around that brand and their latest campaign shows that they really understand their audience. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled on that one.

I also love the work that is continuously coming from Tourism Tasmania and the team at BMF, it’s just excellent from strategy to execution really year on year.

What have you learnt in the last 5 years?

Trust the process. Not groundbreaking, I know – but continuously chipping away at something and keeping the course on the agreed strategy does pay off in the end.

If you hadn’t ended up in agency world, what alternative career may you have fancied?

I would have loved to become a doctor, but that felt out of reach and, I really can’t see blood, a somewhat career limiting issue in that profession.
According to some old school friends, I declared at our A-levels party that I would attempt to work in Advertising, so I think it really was just meant to be.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Everyone is just doing their best.

Outside of business, what keeps you out of trouble?

Ha, those that know me, know I am basically trouble.

I’m a gym junkie: a lot of exercise keeps me physically and mentally in check. But I recently added golf to the mix of “sport” in my life, which has been somewhat angering and entertaining at the same time.
Other than that, my nine year old sausage dog Herman is never far away and keeps everyone in my life entertained really. I write a lot, I think a lot and there is always music in my life.

And then there is the Ocean. Which is what brought me here. If you want to find me, that’s likely where I’ll be. 

What are you driving, what are you listening to and what are you watching?

There is always a high rotation of podcasts: Diary of a CEO, Girls gotta Eat, Smartless.

When I have time I geek out on Sci-Fi. Highly recommend Dark Matter with Joel Edgerton.

Favourite band?

I’m a genre bending enigma. Currently going through an electronic phase and am listening to a lot of Djs. But I’m also heading to see Pearl Jam in September. I have a folk playlist that keeps me entertained for when I write. Hmmh, I guess my favourite all time band would be Interpol.  

Where is your next holiday?

Hamilton island, which is really off brand for me. But my nephew is coming over for a month from Germany to stay with me end of July and we’ll both need some sunshine in our lives the way this winter is developing.  

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

Read more about these related brands, agencies and people

comments powered by Disqus