Industry Profile: Wavemaker Melbourne managing director Nathan Cook

23 March 2021

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 Wavemaker Melbourne managing director Nathan Cook.

Time at the company: 
Two and a half years Wavemaker (plus six years Maxus).

How would you describe what the company does?
We help clients understand how people make decisions and identify better ways to grow their business.

What do you do day-to-day?
Empower a team of talented individuals to deliver the best results for our clients.

Define your job in one word:

I got into media because:
I wanted a career where I could see the direct impact of what I was doing. As a kid I was intrigued by overseas content, whenever my dad would go to the US for work, I’d ask him to bring back the TV guides as I was fascinated by the diversity in content. At university a friend suggested I apply for a job at Media Sales Network (regional Ten), I did this for 12 months but wanted to become more involved in the marketing process, so took the leap agency side after working with the Coles-Myer team at Zenith.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
Navigating through COVID-19, shifting from the physical workplace to a virtual workplace overnight and maintaining an engaged team that is still delivering for our clients.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
The retention of older employees within the industry. With the median working age in Australia 39, the pace and nature of our industry keeps our figure closer to around 29 and I think we are not only losing a lot of knowledge and proficiency from the industry but not giving the next generation the opportunity to learn from this experience and succeed.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:
GroupM, Maxus AU/APAC, Ikon, Mindshare, Mediacom (was then Zenith) and Media Sales Network (now SCA).

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?
I would say two people have been very influential in my development for different reasons.

Joan Ryan was somebody who was the media director for Coles-Myer. Whilst she came across as a little intimidating, she somehow managed to run this team, keep the clients happy as well as buying all the Metro TV for all their businesses. Joan gave me the foundations for process and personal accountability.

Mark McCraith has always inspired, supported me and gave honest feedback to support my growth. He is a great voice of reason and probably has the biggest phone contact list in Melbourne. Mark was a huge influence in my career development at Mindshare, caring and approachable and showed me his ability to create solutions that both helped our clients and benefited the media owners. The best example was when he convinced Network Ten to drop Sunday movies and run Law and Order, committing to sponsoring it in its first year. This not only benefitted Ford but switched Ten from #3 on Sunday nights to #1 and forever changed the Sunday night program format and teaching me to not only think of existing solutions, but be bold enough to create new ones if something doesn’t exist.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
Media is as much innovation and creating great solutions as it is accountability and getting the administration processes right. To succeed you need to have the time and respect to do both parts well.

If I wasn’t doing this for a living, I’d be:
I love to travel, have a passion for exploring new places and love to get the best deal, so I would have become a travel consultant or maybe a travel blogger.

My mantra is:
Always spend your clients money like it’s your own.

My favourite advert is:
My favourite advert is the Christmas ad that the Polish e-commerce site Allegro did in 2016. The fact that it tells such a heart-warming story and is so relevant to their business, not just a brand doing a Christmas ad for the sake of it, it ticks all the boxes.

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?
Spotify, Netflix and Prime.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
To unwind I enjoy cooking from scratch, whether it be grinding the hamburger meat to making pizza doughs, baking breads, cookies and muffins.

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