Industry Profile: Wavemaker national head of research and insight Catherine Wolkers

4 February 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 Wavemaker national head of research and insight Catherine Wolkers.

Time at the company:
Three months in current role and 11 years with the company.

How would you describe what the company does?
At Wavemaker, we have the world’s largest agency database of purchase journey research; we use this data to understand which behaviours, messages and touchpoints can unlock growth for our clients.

In one sentence, what do you do day-to-day?
At Wavemaker, we use data and insights to effectively grow our clients’ brands and evaluate performance.

Define your job in one word:
Discovery.

I got into advertising because:
I wanted to work in a fun, creative industry, in a role that involved psychology.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
Understanding how the latest innovations in technology and real-time data can best be used to inform our planning and evaluate campaign effectiveness.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
Short-terminism: client side, agency side and employment churn. Obviously short-term goals are important, but we should view these as stepping stones to our long-term goals, not as separate entities.

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?
Damian Thompson, global head of consumer insight at Wavemaker London, who taught me to question everything and always dig deeper.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
Be patient and soak up as much knowledge as you can along the way. Don’t wait for someone to hand you what you want. Always find new ways to learn. Never give up.

If I wasn’t doing this for a living, I’d be:
A travel photographer.

My philosophy is:
The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz:
Be impeccable with your word
Don’t take anything personally
Don’t make assumptions
Always do your best

Current favourite adverts are:
Carrefour, ‘Black Supermarket’ – for its bravery and philanthropy.

Nike, ‘Dream Crazy’ – for being inspiring and inclusive.

Burger King, ‘Burn that ad’ and ‘The Whopper Detour’ – for being ridiculously clever but also consistently ‘on-brand’!

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?
Spotify, Netflix, Stan, Audible, podcasts.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I’ve travelled to 34 countries and lived in four of them.

In five years’ time I'll be:
Running my own insights and analytics department.

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