Industry Profile: Tom Kirkham at OMD

By AdNews | 28 September 2023

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.

Tom Kirkham: head of transformation, Sydney at OMD

Time in current role:

I’ve been at OMD for 10 years, sitting in my current role for the last six months.

How would you describe what the company does?

OMD is one of Australia’s leading media agencies, responsible for connecting brands with consumers through holistic omnichannel media, building digital transformation strategies and delivering partnerships of value. We strive to deliver ‘Performance with Integrity for our People and Partners’ in everything we do.

What do you do day-to-day?

We live in a rapidly evolving digital world, filled with new digital experiences, incredible advances in technology and crucial changes to the data and privacy landscape.

This is where the transformation community at OMD come in, as head of transformation my role is to stay ahead of this landscape and harness it for our client’s advantage. Our team of transformation directors partner with clients to map a pathway to digital maturity and unlock business advantage from their data and technology investments. We worry about whole of marketing application, it’s not just about doing better digital media, but driving programs of work that unlock data and technology capabilities to influence all marketing.

Define your job in one word:


I got into my industry because:

Growing up I wanted to be either a scientist, a politician (I know right…) or a comedian. I set about exploring roles while at university and interned for several different companies before discovering the world of media. A media agency is that perfect intersection of science, creativity, relationships and fun.

What’s the biggest industry wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?

Picture this… you’re a marketer that has invested significant budget into an all singing and all dancing marketing technology stack that promises to deliver incredible ROI at every turn… but 12 months later you have nothing to show for it other than a six-figure hole in your budget and a CFO seeking answers.

The challenge? Like a Christmas toy with no batteries included, it’s often only once you’ve opened the box do you realise you’ve not got everything you need.

With tech, people are also not always included. We have been led to believe that simply purchasing a new technology stack will solve all problems. It’s the people that make the difference and I would like to see an industry where people are trusted to make the difference in unison with technology.

Great technology needs great people, which creates happy marketers (and even happier CFOs).

Previous companies:

OMD UK, Warner Bros. UK

Notable campaigns/initiatives:

McDonald’s Monopoly:

· AdNews Awards 2020 - Media Campaign Of The Year

· Festival of Media Global 2020 - Best Use of Real-time Marketing

· Festival of Media APAC 2021 - Best Use Of Data & Insight

· AdNews Awards 2021 - Best Use of Data in Campaign Planning

Who has been a great mentor to you?

I am lucky to have had several fabulous mentors. Melissa Hey, Sian Whitnall, Mike Worden and Vicky Fox have supported me immeasurably throughout my career, while a professional or life choice is never made without the wisdom of my wife, Georgia.

Words of advice:

Make decisions that are true to yourself.

If I wasn’t doing this for a living:

I’d have been an archaeologist, surveying and exploring the ancient world.

My philosophy is:

Kill them with kindness.

My favourite advert is:

Nike: Portugal vs Brazil (2004)

Introducing the school playground to the catchphrase, ole’!


· Harvard Business Review

· McKinsey Daily Read

· Pivot Podcast

· Apple News+

· The Drum

· The Martech Weekly

In five years’ time, I'll be:

Trying to make differences, big and small.

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