Meet The Team - The Pistol's solving problems through innovation

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 19 September 2023
Jaime Nosworthy

The Pistol, the full-service digital agency headed up by CEO Jaime Nosworthy, is positioning itself at the intersection of creative, technology and media.

What the company has found is that tech and innovation are not one and the same - they're not as integrated necessarily as it used to be, so breaking down silos in businesses becomes more important.

"You start thinking about how [alcoholic beverages company] Lion now has a chief growth officer instead of a CMO and technology sits within that function of growth now, so that's a pretty good tip as to the way that the industry is going in terms of bringing together technology to enable all facets of growth and being really focused on your consumer as opposed to technology being a stack that sits over here and then you have to figure out how to actually leverage it," Nosworthy told AdNews.

“We’re really focused on how do we start to solve consumer problems and brand problems through innovation, which is not synonymous with tech. We're building technology solutions and tools without code in an afternoon that are solving problems that clients have had for years. 

“That's what's really exciting in this space right now - how quickly you can move and for us, with our deep roots in solving for problems with technology, it feels very natural that that's an angle that we really invest in. 

Emilia Chambers, The Pistol’s new head of strategy who joined back in July after stints at Carat and iProspect, said that the company is positioning strategy as a central function of what it does.

“Previously, strategy sat as a team on its own, but bringing it into the centre and aligning with tech, aligning with innovation, pulling creative into it and then media being a key part of what we do with our clients just means that we can connect all those dots a lot easier and start solving more business problems through that approach, instead of more media focused problems or tech specific problems,” she said.

Nosworthy said one of the things that so many businesses in the space it operates in are trying to do is to tack on tech, focusing a lot on the tail end of the funnel. 

“The tech is around attribution modelling or measurement as a whole, where for us, it's actually going right back to the first interaction that a consumer is having with the brand and optimising every single touch point that that consumer can have,” Nosworthy said. 

“We often get grouped in with media agencies, but that's not who we are. We spend a lot of time and a lot of efforts in optimising technology, and therefore owned channels as well.

“Businesses shifting their mindset from seeing marketing as a cost center to seeing it as a profit center, brings the CFO, CTO and the CMO to the table, and having that conversation is so much richer than having a media conversation.”

Nosworthy said with the outlook from a consumer expenditure perspective and how brands are looking at their marketing budgets for the next 12 to 36 months, The Pistol’s focus is on leveraging paid for acquisition and then doubling down on making client’s own assets working hard for them - email, SMS, websites and other rich, personalised experiences, helping brands take advantage of the martech that they spend millions on that they've typically underutilised through the last few years

“That feels like a very clear turning point in the market where it's not just about pay to play; this is very much around having a very clear value exchange with consumers, bring them in as early as you can and then give them the best possible interaction focused on anticipating their needs, adding value beyond product and price and building long standing relationships with them, so they continue to care about what you said,” she told AdNews.

“That feels different in the market right now. That's not what we're seeing across our media counterparts.”

Outside of differentiating themselves externally, internally, The Pistol is focused on facilitating growth and leaning, with many team members moving around the company laterally – from creative to strategy for instance - and gaining experience in different roles and verticals.

One of those is Shaunn Anderson, who as search director drives client business growth through paid search, SEO and local search activation 

I started off as strategy director just under two years ago and moved quite quickly into impacting performance,” he said.

“Then I went really deep on search, given it’s a specialised skill set and I had that experience previously. More recently, maybe out of my own curiosity, I’ve been broadening again back to holistic performance that's not purely related to paid search, which is where my curiosity and interest comes from. 

“That's the beauty of The Pistol - it's a very fluid organisation without rigid role descriptions, whereby they provide the skills to move in the direction you want to move in and you're not held back. That's a really great highlight, where they can see your skill set, they helps mould you and also you mould yourself into the role that where you feel you're best suited.”

Nosworthy said the company has partnered with a business called Experience, who have facilitated  training in terms of leadership and management as well as bringing a program to Australia called the Reiss Motivation Profile. 

“You could kind of group it with Myers Briggs and the likes of that, but instead of giving you a label, there's 16 motivators and you sit on the scale for each of those,” she said.

“We've done it across our entire business now and it's created this beautiful common language of how people work, what gets the most out of them and where their interests might lie.”

Nosworthy said The Pistol has also brought it into recruitment as well, so if they’re not quite sure how someone might integrate into the senior leadership team or how they might respond to certain demands of the role, the Reiss Motivation Profile will be facilitated prior to bringing anyone into the business.

“That's something that's going to be core to how we manage development plans and performance reviews and it's really focused on getting the most value out of our team but also helping them understand what makes them tick and why they get motivated to show up, why they want to work on certain projects, to really dig into that,” Nosworthy said.

“We do have a young team who are still figuring a lot of things out, so if we can help accelerate that understanding of themselves and what they need from an employer or from a client or from a relationship at work, it’s a great way to do that.”

She said that one of the motivators is called ‘social contact’ or ‘social interaction’, which has helped determine when they need to be in the office and how they need to be in the office together. 

“Often, people are put in buckets based on the type of role they'd be – ‘developers want to work at home’, for instance - but our developers are actually very high on social contact and they need to be in the office and have that collaboration,” she told AdNews

“It really has changed the dynamic of how we work together, and it also helps us get more out of the team; they know how they can identify what they need and identify opportunities and it's an easy way for them to communicate it, when prior to that they might have had an inkling of what they needed, but they couldn't put it into words as to what that actually looks like now.

“It's something Jules [Brahe] and I have been talking about a lot around diversity of thinking; it’s one thing to look at diversity in your business in terms of gender and race, but starting to think about diversity of experience and background has made us really open up our eyes to recruitment outside of our industry as well. 

“The skills you might learn in a vertical like medicine could actually be very transferable into our role, which has been really cool. In a time where there was such a significant talent crunch, we did need to look outside of marketing and media and advertising in tech.”

Looking at the pitching market at the moment, Chamber said that not only has the overall volume of pitches increased, but the breadth of what companies are asking for has increased too.

“We're starting to see more pitches that really are that holistic response requirement, instead of just ‘we've already got this other agency, we need to fill this gap’,” she said. 

“It looks like there's a general trend of brands trying to consolidate their agencies and start to look at who they're partnering with and what they provide, and start to rely on that, so I think we're seeing not just the volume increase, but the breadth of what they're asking for.”

Nosworthy said a lot of businesses are going to pitch because they need to go to pitch because they're on a cycle, but it doesn't necessarily mean you're getting the best value by moving.

“Clients that are starting to internalise some of the services are feeling the pain as well. We're seeing a few of them move things in-house and then the phone rings a couple of months later saying ‘hey, this wasn’t as straightforward as we thought it would be’ or ‘we don't necessarily have the right capability from a strategic expertise’” she said.

“I think that's why depth of capability and really being focused on the commercial impact of the partnership, as opposed to just the executional impact, is so important. We've had conversations with clients where we started to ask about margins, and we started to ask about their overarching P&L prior to engaging in a pitch and if they're not prepared to have that conversation, then they’re probably not the right partner for us, because we want to make sure that we're really effectively delivering ROI for their business, and it's a long term relationship thing for us. 

“Being very clearly accountable for that is super, super important for us and that's why we really focus on getting CFOs at the table and technology leaders at the table so that you can be accountable for it, but you've got to have the right level of visibility and the right level of influence as well. 

Looking ahead to 2024, Nosworthy said The Pistol is in a growth year. 

“The start of the year has been really strong; we have a very strong innovation focus for this year, we've got some MVP products that we’re ready to scale out and we'll be betting on a couple of AI enabled projects and a couple of scalability projects for clients, because there's very consistent needs and business problems across retailers right now,” Nosworthy told AdNews

“We're going to double down on that and double down on new business, but happy to come to the pitch table with the right partners, because we know what we do is different and that's consistent feedback in every pitch. Further ingraining that data-led people acceleration is also a really, really clear focus for us.”

Chambers said her priority over the next six months is really building out the strategy function.

“It's really early days in terms of what that looks like, and how we roll it out to not just our current clients but prospective clients,” she said.

“We've got amazing skill sets across The Pistol and making sure it all comes together nicely takes time; there's processes behind it, there's working out what works, what doesn't, if something works for one thing that doesn't work for something else. 

“It's by no means an easy solution to develop, but I think it will really position us strongly in the market in terms of that offering to clients.”

Chambers said another big focus for 2024 is how The Pistol can utilise AI to take away the heavy lifting that a lot of its clients have, which is quite often a barrier to what they do. 

“I see AI as valuable from a standalone product solution, but we almost see more value in how it can take away a lot of time, effort and list of things that clients haven't had a chance to do before,” Chamber said. 

“So things like dynamic creative, where previously you'd have to go and make 50 odd iterations and creative, that you can remove all that now. Working with clients to build that is enabling them to do things that they haven't been able to do before but have wanted to do.”



Jules Brahe
Jules Brahe - Business Director

What’s the biggest challenge in your role?

I am happy to say that recruiting high performing talent is no longer my greatest challenge. The last couple of years have been focused on adapting and defining our approach to learning and development to ensure the new recruits are equipped to deliver on the needs of our client partners. Now that our LMS and Development Programs are a well-oiled machine, my next challenge is increasing the level of engagement from the team in professional and personal development programs, social events, and presence in the office. 

What does a typical day look like for you?

I live in Noosa (I know!), so I kick off with the National Park Walk to Hells Gate. I love the Diary of a CEO podcast and always gain a couple of useful tips I can implement immediately. I work from the Digital Hub in Peregian beach, alongside other Noosa-based colleagues and a wide variety of incredible entrepreneurs and business owners. The days are always different, but the consistent themes are helping the teams connect to the required resources to deliver on the needs of their clients or their teams, and being a sounding board for strategic business decisions, all while keeping the vibes high! 

What attracted you to The Pistol?

Initially meeting Troy (Founder) and Jaime (CEO) and seeing the opportunity that the first tech platform, Tiger Pistol, created for big brands to activate their local footprint. We connected immediately, kept in touch, and two years later the right role came up and I jumped on board. But of course, it’s always been about the people!

What are you focused on for 2023?

I’ve recently become a Master in the Reiss Motivation Profile tool, which looks at the core motivators of people and helps unlock meaningful conversations around what that means for how you show up in your personal and professional life. We have rolled this out across the entire business to create a deeper understanding of our unique traits, and to create a common language that improves collaboration. This is one of the key strategies I’m employing to improve the engagement of the team. 

What do you love most about your role?

This is an absolute no brainer. The culture of this business is like nothing I’ve seen before. We are genuinely one big team that all pitch in and help each other out. We employ the principle that People grow faster with us and seeing that come to life through teamwork and deep understanding of one another is pretty incredible.


Emilia Chambers
Emilia Chambers - Head of Strategy

What do you love most about your role?

I love the variety. I get to work with clients to solve their business challenges across a range of verticals which means that I often come across specifics in a brief that I haven't had to solve before. I also get to work with different skill sets within The Pistol which I find fascinating as to how different people with different skills think and approach solutions. It’s a critical element of my role to make sure that I connect with specialists across the company and I love this, there is always something to learn from someone else.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I have a pretty hectic life with three young children so it’s an early start for me to get ready and caffeinated before the kids get up. Then it’s getting everyone dressed, in the car and off to where they need to be for the day. Heading into the office is my “me time” for the day so I usually listen to some music and make the most of the Melbourne traffic. I would say I don’t have a typical day at work which is why I love working in strategy because the problems we’re solving are often very different from one day to another so it keeps it interesting.

What’s the biggest challenge in your role?

We’re in a whirlwind of new opportunities in the industry at the moment which can be a challenge wading through tech, platforms, etc to work out what is going to be the best opportunity to have the biggest impact on your goals. It’s a good challenge to have but ensuring a strategy is using the best of what’s available in a way that is clear in its understanding and activation takes time to unpack.

What attracted you to The Pistol?

I had toyed with that idea of moving to an indie agency for a while but I needed an employer who understood that to be the best version of myself I needed a flexible working week. I have three little ones that need my time and attention so finding a company who allowed me to have flexible hours and understood that unplanned family commitments do come up, was so important to me. Fun fact; my son was home sick and threw up during one interview for this role so I had to stop half way through. If a company is willing to hire me after that then for me that means they get the challenges of being a working mum, and that’s a company I wanted to be a part of.

What are you focused on for 2023?

I’m in the process of scaling the strategy offering at The Pistol which is a big focus to make sure we have the skill sets to deliver best in class strategy for our clients. We’re bringing together some amazing talent across tech, innovation, creative, data and analytics, and media to create a team that focuses on solving critical business challenges. From an industry perspective, there’s no doubt AI is still a big topic and we’re focusing on how this technology can be used to unlock opportunities that used to be out of reach for our clients due to common challenges such as infrastructure limitations or heavy lifting.


Sarafraz Johl
Sarafraz Johl - Head of Technology

What are you focused on for 2023?

My primary focus for 2023 is productisation. A cornerstone of our team's OKRs is transforming our tech services into standardised products. We've charted an ambitious roadmap to streamline these offerings, aiming to enhance cost-efficiency and expedite delivery for our clients. I'm privileged to lead a stellar team of problem solvers, strategists, and forward-thinkers. We share a collective passion for optimising processes and consistently seek avenues for enhancement. Our goal is to mould our services into modular, productised solutions that ensure swift implementation, rigorous quality checks, and scalable delivery to match the burgeoning demand.

What attracted you to The Pistol?

The Pistol stands out as a unique blend of a large enterprise's stability and a startup's tight-knit camaraderie. While many companies tout innovation and research, at The Pistol, these aren't just buzzwords—they're deeply embedded in the culture, championed by leadership. Here, there's room to create, fail, refine, and then robustly scale ideas with ample backing. My initial draw to The Pistol was its unconventional interview approach. Instead of a standard skills assessment, I had a candid conversation with the founder, emphasising shared values and vision over mere technicalities. This ethos permeates the entire organisation. Every team member has a captivating story, and genuine friendships and care are evident throughout. In essence, The Pistol is a people-centric powerhouse, which I believe is its magnet for attracting and retaining top talent.

What do you love most about your role?

Problem-solving is at the heart of what I do, and it's what I cherish most. Whether it's striking the perfect equilibrium, charting the optimal path, or brainstorming innovative solutions, I thrive on addressing challenges through technology. I'm fuelled by a deep-seated desire to create—whether it's crafting code or devising quirky kitchen tools. Witnessing my creations spring to life and make a tangible impact is immensely gratifying. My role places me within a dynamic team, constantly ideating fresh approaches to our clients' challenges. Together, we transform these ideas into valuable assets for their businesses.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My day kicks off with school runs for the kids, followed by a soothing cup of tea or decaf to set the tone. I'm in the office three days a week, starting Tuesdays, which means my initial hours are packed: catching up on communications, attending project stand-ups, and navigating through various work-in-progress sessions. The office days are my favourite; they're filled with invigorating walk-and-talks with my team, lively inter-team banter, and often a chat with someone from a different department. While my schedule includes consistent elements like brainstorming, deep work sessions, team huddles, and daily checklists, no two days are identical. Occasionally, a hectic day might surprise me with some free pockets of time, allowing me to tackle those delightful tasks from my backlog. It's these unexpected moments that I truly cherish.

What’s the biggest challenge in your role?

Growth pains. The industry is sprinting towards AI-sation, which brings lots of new opportunities as well as challenges. We've embraced the use of AI at The Pistol. As exciting as this journey is, it also means constantly adapting to new technologies, methodologies, and ensuring our team is up-to-date with the latest skills. The rapid pace at which AI evolves demands that we stay agile and proactive, anticipating market shifts before they happen. Another challenge is managing expectations. With the buzz around AI, there's a misconception that it's a magic bullet solution for all problems. Educating our clients and stakeholders about the realistic capabilities and limitations of AI is crucial.



Tom Crimmins

Tom Crimmins - Art Director

What attracted you to The Pistol?

I’d have to say, it’s the opportunity to work on clever and beautiful creative that has a very specific job to do. As designers, we love to make beautiful things. Sometimes it’s enough to do just that, and feel good about it - knowing that you gave life to something pretty that hadn’t existed before you thought of it. However, when you take this, then add the lens of performance marketing with attribution metrics, the added depth of impact is very rewarding to experience. In terms of digital marketing, there’s no better team to encourage and champion high-performance technology-led creative than TP.

What are you focused on for 2023?

2023 is the year of AI for me. It’s resonated deeply in terms of opening up new avenues of concept exploration and realisation. To turn an idea into a visual representation that can be used to tell a story used to take many people many hours to complete. With the emergence of tools like Stable Diffusion and Midjourney, it’s possible for people like myself to be able to illustrate an idea and bring people along for the journey faster and more efficiently than ever. It’s very exciting and refreshing to be involved in, and I have no doubt that businesses around the world will need to incorporate AI workflows into their processes if they want to thrive in the ‘post-AI revolution’ world.

What do you love most about your role?

Being encouraged to explore and learn, then convey that information back to the business. I find most things absolutely fascinating. If I had limitless funds, I’d probably just be a serial degree-studier. The fact that the business encourages the teams to learn as much as they can and follow their passions is really important to me. Yes, it’s to have prescribed roles. More than great, it’s pretty necessary, but to have a role where it’s in everyone’s best interests for you to stay up to date with the latest tech and design developments and implementations is amazing. Everyday is a school day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What’s the biggest challenge in your role?

I’d have to say being a generalist in a field where so many things fascinate and interest me. Some days I need to wear my ideation cap, while on others, I’m straight up copywriting or motion designing. Then other days, I’m down the rabbit hole of prompt engineering trying to develop AI generated elements for storyboards or pitch concepts. These tasks, among others, can occupy you for days alone, losing yourself in various states of iteration and exploration. Luckily, the real world gives you a good shake, and it’s time to move onto the next brief!

What does a typical day look like for you?

Mornings are generally following up loose ends from the day before or connecting dots so that tasks and processes can proceed. Reviewing completed work to ensure quality and synergy with their relative briefs generally occurs during this period too. I generally use this ‘build up’ period to get in the zone for the creative tasks that I might have on too. I like to mull over how I will attack a problem. But most importantly - what’s the clearest and simplest way that I can convey what I need to convey to the team or the business. There’s a lot to be said for a well written brief or presentation! The afternoons are generally for continuing to work on designs, decks, concepts, or research. I’m generally sufficiently caffeinated by this stage, feeling like the octopus that plays the drums.

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