Perspectives - Melissa Fein at Initiative - From talent race to talent crisis

By AdNews | 9 December 2021
Melissa Fein. Photo by Tim Levy.

AdNews is following the WFH Diaries with a series of Perspectives, asking two questions: What did you learn in 2021 and what are you looking forward to in 2022? We've also encouraged the industry to glam, dress for the best, and face next year with optimism.

This article first appeared in the November-December 2021 AdNews magazine.

Melissa Fein, CEO, Initiative Australia:

Let’s start with an obvious statement: 2021 threw some curveballs. But as the saying goes, every challenge is an opportunity in disguise, and we definitely used that mantra to help us make it a year to remember verse forget.

We went from a never-ending talent race to a talent crisis. Being locked back down saw many reconsider their personal sense of purpose and what they want from their careers. Luckily, three years of reinventing our people and culture offering and building flexible working frameworks meant we were ahead of this, but it pushed us to accelerate innovation in fresh areas to redefine what working in media can be like.

The challenges of this year were frequent with some media owners once again wearing the brunt of lockdowns more than others, but investment in content, data and flexible infrastructure bolstered their resilience. We were so impressed with how bulletproof they’ve made their offerings and we created some of our best work with them in the most trying circumstances.

The dormant new business market awoke, but with a more empathetic and respectful culture. For the first time since we took a clear public stance on the state of pitching with #DitchThePitch, we saw a real change to how they were run. We worked with great partners who respected timelines, commercials and the process of procurement. Clients were much more cognisant around not pitching during harsh lockdowns or over festive periods. While there is still some work to be done, it’s made pitching exciting again.

Looking towards 2022 at Initiative, we’re unashamedly focused on growth and progression. We know our people are hungrier than ever to create career defining work. We know the bets we’ve made around operations, technology and process will pay off. We know there are a lot of marketers out there wanting to review their current relationships, so we’re excited at the prospect of taking on the future with more likeminded partners in 2022 and beyond.

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