Young Gun: Seven digital advertising operations manager Kelly Lenihan

23 May 2019

Our Young Guns profile takes a weekly look at some of the young talent across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles, people and companies across the buzzing industry.

Today we speak to Seven digital advertising operations manager Kelly Lenihan.

Time at the company:
11 months.

How long have you been in the industry?
Six years.

How did you get here? Was this always the plan?
It was between astronomy or an account director in advertising. I started out in neither, rather in partner management at Cisco before landing that dream AD title at a boutique digital agency. After three years in sales I took a giant leap of faith and changed career paths to digital operations. I started as a Campaign Manager at Yahoo7 where I spent the next five years progressing to the team lead, loving almost every day. And now I am managing an amazing team of ad ops execs and campaign managers AKA legends at Seven!

Who is your right-hand person/who guides you day to day?
Hayley Smith.

What’s the best thing about the industry you work in?
There is the perfect mix of geek and glamour. We are constantly changing, and no day is the same.

And the biggest challenge?
The ever-increasing complexities in tech and integration coupled with the growth of platforms means that there is a real gap in the talent pool available in our market. Companies are trying to hire people who already have background knowledge rather than investing in growing talent in entry level roles. There may be people who have tenure in digital who aren’t necessarily the best people to push the industry forward but unless managers are willing to put the time and effort in to train new people this situation won’t change. The digital advertising industry also needs to look at recognizing the entire operational ecosystem. There needs to be more focus on mentoring and keeping young operations people motivated and interested in the industry. I personally see a deficit in this area and have made it my focus to hire and develop potential operations superstars.

Whose job have you set your sights on in the future?
I imagine digital job titles and responsibilities will evolve as quickly as the industry so instead of their job if I could be Justin Orchard I would. He is an amazing leader who inspires, has a holistic approach, gets dirty in the weeds, empowers his teams, and is an innovative thought leader.

Where do you turn for inspiration?
I am a sucker for Ted Talks, Google Talks, any inspo type of talk really. More recently I have jumped on the podcast bandwagon and have been listening to one each day driving to the office.

My favourite advert is:
Steinlager Pure 2007. This ad is potentially the match that lit my fire for advertising. Watch it and you will see why.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I found out 20 years later that the cow my mum had taken me to visit, supposedly my old pet Ferdy, was just a rando in a field and we had eaten him.

In five years' time I'll be:
Adulting more seriously.

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