Industry Profile: VERSA managing director Jonny Clow

14 January 2020

Our Industry Profile takes a 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 speak to VERSA managing director Jonny Clow.

Time at the company:
Just over a year.

How would you describe what the company does?
VERSA is a digital experience agency, and are global leaders in voice and emerging technology.

What do you do day-to-day?
No day is the same. What starts out on one-path leads to another – the hard bit is refocusing on the priorities. We have opened three offices this year, which is exciting, but that takes a lot of attention. And our emerging tech offering goes beyond the smart speaker into AR, AI and conversational design.

Define your job in one word:
Relentless (in a good way).

I got into advertising because:
I didn’t know what else to do. Twenty years ago, there were no marketing or advertising degrees so people just fell into roles. I did a drama, theatre and television degree – so there are a lot of similarities (especially in pitching).

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
Apart from the obvious answer of new business, it’s finding, honing and retaining outstanding talent. We have introduced many initiatives over the past year from the flexible four-day working week to new parental leave policies that have attracted and helped retain amazing people.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
Nailing the modern workplace. It’s not easy, as the majority of businesses have essentially followed the same patterns since the 1920s of a 40-hour week based at the one workplace. With an imminent skills shortage on the horizon, it’s a constant challenge to maintain a balanced workplace that drives collaboration and yields effective results.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:
The Marketing Store, BD Network, Edge, Y&R.

Notable ads/campaigns you have worked on:
McDonald’s Make Up Your Own Mind, The Whiskas Pledge and Letters of Gallipoli are three I’m proud of.

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?
Probably David Ponce de Leon. I was lucky enough to work alongside him for four great years at BD Network. He taught me a lot about the industry and about humility.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
Be prepared to pivot, often. Technology is evolving so fast that remaining agile is a necessity. This is why the independents (like us) are doing so well at the moment.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:
Probably in a really bad soap opera, set in Sheffield.

My mantra is:
Go harder.

My favourite advert is:
I like all of Mother’s stuff – so probably the Boots Christmas ad from 2014, ‘Special Because’.

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?
Netflix mainly and BBC First. It’s exhausting with so much great quality out there so that you have to be picky on what you commit 10 hours of your life to.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I played in a band with a member of Regurgitator, but didn’t know who Regurgitator was.

In five years' time I'll be:
Right here.

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