Industry Profile: Bohemia performance director, Sebastian Graham

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 13 October 2016
Sebastian Graham

Our Industry Insights Profile takes a weekly look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry. Last week we spoke to Archibald/Williams account duo Jasmine Krnjetin and Liz Ainslie.

This week we head to Sydney to speak to Bohemia group performance and technology director, Sebastian Graham.

Duration in current role/time at the company:

One year.

In one sentence, how would you describe what the company does?

We use data, strategy and creativity to drive business growth for our clients.

In one sentence, what does your role involve?

I lead the performance team – who run every campaign that has a direct, trackable connection between the media and the business outcome, and oversee the commercial relationships with technologies.

Within the last six months/year, what stands out as the company’s major milestones?

Winning plenty of new business is always a highlight (UBank, Pandora, Caltex, Twitter and another half a dozen more). However, for me I think the milestones that stand out are the internal decisions we’ve made. We’ve built some data and intelligence products that are incredibly strong. We’ve expanded the leadership team to bring in new talent and skillsets.

We’ve made some very brave decisions about our client relationships and which clients we pursue. We’ve also been very specific about which awards we pursue – choosing not to enter AdNews’ agency of the year award after winning last year as an example. To me, this represents a single minded focus on making Bohemia a stronger, more capable, more powerful agency and we’ll reap the benefit of that over the years to come.

Best thing about the industry you work in:

I can see and directly impact the business outcome of hundreds of businesses – and do it with some unbelievably talented people.

Previous industry related (ad land/ad tech) companies you have worked at:

UM, Reprise, DGM and about five years client side.

Career-wise, where do you see yourself in three years time?

I’m lucky enough that I’m doing what I love. In three years time, I hope to be still doing it across the biggest and most progressive advertisers in the world.

What is the elephant in the room? The thing that no one is talking about – but they should be:

As an industry, we are not good at leading, managing, mentoring and growing people. There isn’t a lack of talent, I believe there are too many people who haven’t been properly trained, mentored and cared for who then leave the industry.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

I don’t think there would be much? I’m very open about who I am with the Bohemians…

Top networking tip:

I’m terrible at networking, so my top networking tip is don’t get networking tips from me.

My favourite restaurant for a business lunch is:

I’m a very informal person, I’d rather go to a little hole in the wall with great food than somewhere like Tetsuya’s. Toko in Surry Hills is always good though.

My favourite advert is:

It is most likely Pandora’s Firsts campaign that we recently ran. Music is such a critical part of people’s lives, and calling back to the memories of our first song and first gig makes me really happy.

My must-have gadget is:

Does anyone not answer their phone to this? After my phone it’s gotta be a good set of headphones at work. I don’t get much time to settle down into a project with some music anymore, but it’s definitely something I enjoy.

My favourite media is:

It’s a close fight between search, programmatic display and programmatic Video.

My favourite TV show is:

Doctor Who – but I’m still not sold on the new Doctor.

The last book I read:

I’m working my way through Scott Adams’ (Dilbert Cartoonist) reading list on persuasion. The last book I read on it was The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump.

My mantra / philosophy is:

When it comes to performance work, isolate everything – get the biggest possible idea to the smallest possible audience.

I got into advertising/ad tech/marketing etc. because:

Honestly, I fell into it. I started off studying psychology, but dropped out because I realised it wasn’t teaching me how to get people to do what I want them to do. Turns out, that’s the whole purpose of marketing.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:

Three people who I really respect in the last six months have told me I’m probably meant to be an entrepreneur. So based on most of the entrepreneurs I know I’d be broke.

In five years' time I'll be:

I’ve been really successful in my career so far. In five years time I hope to have proven that I can achieve success in the biggest and most competitive markets in the world. That might be a move to London or New York or it might be switching to a different category, or it might be progression to higher levels and different challenges within agencies in Sydney.

Define your job in one word:


What's your poison:

This industry drinks too much and I try not to. The poison that will kill me is a motorbike, but I don’t get enough time to ride it anymore.

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