Industry Profile: Orchard managing partner, Wai Kwok

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 29 April 2016
Orchard managing partner, Wai Kwok

Our Industry 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.

This week we head to Surry Hills to meet Orchard managing partner, Wai Kwok.

Duration in current role/time at the company:

10 years – it seems shorter, I’ve been very lucky to have three fantastic business partners to go on this journey with.

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

We strive to invent better, to build brands and to transform businesses.

In one sentence, what does your role involve?

Leading the health and wellness offering at Orchard. This means setting the bar, challenging and supporting our teams and ensuring we have the best talent in the industry to deliver on redefining healthcare communications for our clients.

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

From a momentum perspective we’ve recently won some great work in healthcare. We’re now on the roster of GSK, carrying out some truly innovative digital work with Boehringer Ingelheim and AbbVie, and in addition we’ve been appointed for one of the biggest medication launches we’ll see in Australia in 2016.

Our other milestones include our most recent hire, which takes us to over 75 very talented individuals who make up the Orchard team, making us one of the largest independents in Australia.

Best thing about the industry you work in:

It keeps you open minded, it’s hard work but you have to remember to laugh. You spend so much time at work it’s got to remain fun and inspiring. You also meet some seriously clever people and occasionally you get to wear Havaianas to work.

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

Started out at LBi in London (now DigitasLbi), moved to Sydney which lead to ZIVO, Spike and then a spell at Grey.

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

Continuing to grow Orchard, spending more time in NYC where we have an office gaining pace and hopefully Asia, which is next in our footprint.

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

I have a big passion for cooking, might have been a chef in another life. Probably a touch more Jamie than Heston.

Top networking tip:

Realise that it’s not easy for anyone, even the people who are great at it – be genuine, listen and have a point of view.

My favourite restaurant for a business lunch is:

Winery – it’s hard to beat the openair atmosphere in Sydney - and it’s convenient being next door to Orchard.

My favourite advert is:

Recently saw a beautiful feature ad for Rekorderlig Cider.

Original, not too serious with amazing production values and very relevant to the audience they’re trying to reach. Interesting tidbit, they used the choreography team from the hit comedy film Blades of Glory.

My must-have gadget is:

I’m never too far away from my ipad.

My favourite media is:

Digital – and if I can plug an app, use Flipboard (it reinvents how you can browse and read). I’d hazard a guess that you’ll learn more about a person spending one minute looking through their apps, than one minute talking to them - it’s digital ethnography in action.

My favourite TV show is:

House of Cards and anything Louis Theroux does.

The last book I read:

The Lord Howe Island Cook Book – after a recent trip, an amazing place on our doorstep.

My mantra / philosophy is:

Cut through the crap. Be direct and straight talking to teams and clients - it gets you to the truth of the matter quicker so you can do better.

My second - One team, one dream.

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

I didn’t get the grades to get into law. Worked out I guess.

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

A uni lecturer, a writer and travelling for pleasure more.

In five years' time I'll be:

Still in the amazing business we’ve created, having fun and still learning. We’ve got some very exciting initiatives in the digital therapeutics space which I think will be very important in the future.

Define your job in one word: 


What's your poison:

Full bodied red, probably at the winery and definitely with friends.

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