Industry Profile: Digitas client partner Susan Montgomery

8 December 2020

Our Industry Profile takes a look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, adtech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry.

This week we speak to Digitas client partner Susan Montgomery.

Time in current role:
It's hard to believe but I've now been with Digitas for six years. Originally joining in a client service role, I've left and returned twice due to maternity leave. Each time I've returned it has been like walking into a new and improved company. The business has evolved, matured and expanded so many times over the past few years. This year I returned into a new role focused on growth and marketing, and genuinely there is nothing BAU about the role, which makes it so exciting.

How would you describe what the company does?
Digitas is constantly evolving, however our core value has always remained the same. It's about connecting brands with audiences in creative and innovative ways; hence we're known as the Connected Marketing agency. We enjoy playing in the tensions: data fuelled creativity or meshing media and technology, in order to surface new solutions for our clients. In 2020, we've taken this one step further to shape our offering into strategic propositions - connected ideas, connected intelligence and connected orchestration. And it’s my role to market these offerings and to showcase all of the intelligence Digitas creates with clients everyday.

What do you do day-to-day?
My role is to shape the growth of the business through a linked prospect, marketing and events strategy. I love the variety it brings to me day-to-day. I get to work with the department leads across the business and broader Publicis Groupe to champion all of the smart and amazing projects they create every day.

At any one time, I'm working on a big variety of marketing activities such as video series, events, pitches and thought leadership programs.

This week I’m launch a video series showcasing our 'Daddy of Data' Maurice Riley, Digitas’ chief data officer, in a data masterclass. We're launching this in partnership with Adobe and broadcasting it across social, PR and industry trade press. Next month, we're launching a livestream creative event with Facebook.

Define your job in one word:
Connections. On a daily basis I'm connecting new clients to our talent, connecting our partners with our capability, the Publicis Groupe, and the wider industry. ‘Connecting’ is the foundation of my role.

I got into digital marketing because:
I never really cut it as a designer myself, but loved being around creative and talented people. I first got exposure in print but found that the dynamic nature of digital was so much more interesting. I studied a really diverse design course at Monash University and it opened me up to so many other types of creative mediums, including digital.

Eventually I found myself spending far more time volunteering at art galleries, design studios, fashion shows and at various street magazines that excitement of the ‘real world of work’ just became much more appealing than working on theory at university. That’s when I started working at marketing-based agency Spin Communications.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
My role is a new addition to the business so there isn't really a precedent, which makes it both exciting and challenging. From shaping prospecting plans to shaping marketing efforts, every task and every project – it’s all new and evolving rapidly. Just as I find my feet, another pivot or change occurs, such as remote prospecting for the business. It's taught me how to be flexible and adapt quickly, and to lean on the amazing capability of the business.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
Bringing the art back into craft. As budgets tighten and timeframes get cut, the ‘art of work’ can really take a hit. However, it’s what really connects us with audiences. Marketing has shifted so far into the data and science, but as we master this, I’d love to see the industry swing back into investing in what connects with people’s hearts and minds.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:
Digitas recently encouraged all staff to consider their own passions and to share and shape subcultures to build within the organisation. It's opened the door for me to drive a personal mission with the launch of Clash. A new initiative, where we will experiment with environment, tech and art. Together, we will identify social tensions in our community and work with the industry to unpack them with design thinking methods. The aim is to ultimately create artistic experiences with purpose. By simply sharing my little idea the Digitas team has pushed it and driven it to become bigger and better than I could have ever imagined. We’re still in the early stages, but I’m excited to hopefully launch one initiative before the end of the year.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:
I worked at Urchin, Spin Communications and IE in Melbourne before moving to Sydney and taking on a role at The White Agency. I then had a crack at more art, cultural and experiential based work at Lightwell and AnalogFolk, before joining Digitas.
The common thread in all of my career moves has been a focus on shaping engaging and compelling digital experiences.

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?
I draw from many people and grow from bringing together experiences from each; from previous managers to my current team. What I love about consultancy work is you are exposed to so many different business types and people with unique expertise and experiences. There is always something to learn from someone along the way.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
It's easy to fall into being the doer, solving problems and getting the work done. However, you can achieve so much more with a greater focus on a clear purpose. Organising your day around a balance between personal and professional goals, and supporting others with theirs, needs to be the most important focus. You shouldn’t always fall into the ‘urgent’ or ‘fire fighting’ trap.

My mantra is:
I recently read the statement 'the right to take up space', and it really resonated with me. If you’re going to take up space, make the most of it. Put the effort in and make your mission clear. It's something I've done with conviction lately and I feel it's allowing me to be more determined and to make the most impact I can everyday.

My favourite advert is:
I really love the SBS’s belongings interactive installation launched as part of the Sydney Biennale in 2018. Created by SBS’ Digital Creative Labs and using technology developed by Google’s Creative Lab it showcases the use of digital tech with a strong message about displacement and refugees, delivered in a bilingual multiuser interactive experience.

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?
Technology overload is the theme for my life this year unfortunately. However determined to read more I’ve subscribed to Well Read. I now have a stack of novels I'm trying to work through rather unsuccessfully.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
When I was younger I grew up learning to sail and competed in a world titles series. After this I started to do some ocean sailing and some windsurfing. I’m looking forward to getting back into sailing this year in Sydney.

In five years' time I'll be:
So many things have changed in 2020; it’s really evolved my old assumptions of where I would be in five years time. Just the simple impact of remote working models has shifted things. We've progressed 10 years in eight weeks alone. The necessity of city life is now no longer such a factor so hopefully I’ll find myself somewhere nearer the ocean.

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