Young Gun: Zenith account director Ryan Varley

30 May 2019

Our Young Guns profile takes a 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 Zenith account director Ryan Varley.

Time at the company:
16 months.

How long have you been in the industry?
Just over five years.

How did you get here? Was this always the plan?
Definitely not – I had almost finished a degree in architecture when I figured out it wasn’t for me. At the time, I was living with a mate who was just about to finish a bachelor in business (majoring in advertising), and the conversations I had with him about it were also fascinating. On top of that, Gruen was really starting to hit its stride at around the same time and I loved watching it – so I decided to start again and switch over to advertising. Haven’t looked back since.

Who is your right hand person/who guides you day to day?
My business director, George. It’s great to have someone as experienced as him working directly above me on the team – he’s seen it all before, and always has my back. Probably the two most important things to have in a boss.

What’s the best thing about the industry you work in?
The amount of stuff that’s going on and changing every day. I’m a very curious person – which means that I sometime get distracted a little easily – but on the other hand it means that I want to learn about something new all the time. Media is perfect for that.

And the biggest challenge?
Employee happiness. I’m very lucky in my role that I don’t get exposed to too many crazy requests/issues/deadlines. What “Roy Morgan” did earlier this year by putting a spotlight on it was fantastic, but it’s my sense that attention has dropped away a little since then. People are burning out left right and centre and it’s got to be addressed by leaders of our industry (both individuals and industry bodies).

Whose job have you set your sights on in the future?
None really – I think if I get too focussed on something it might limit opportunities that will pop up along the way. 

Where do you turn for inspiration?
A few different places. First, my partner Noelle is an absolute rock and a genius when it comes to comms. Secondly, the shower – I feel I can always think things through better in there. Finally, Eliud Kipchoge – a bit left of field, he’s currently the world record holder in the marathon. Every time I think about the fact that he almost broke two hours to run 42.2km it blows my mind and pushes me to go a little further on whatever the problem for that day is.

My favourite advert is:
I’ll give you two Nike answers – the “Londoner” piece of creative is so much fun to watch. There’s so much in there to unpack that I can watch it endlessly. The other one is the Nike Run Club app – probably more from a personal perspective, but as a piece of content it has totally done a number on me and converted me in to a sucker for their running gear.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
Not much I enjoy more than a good rom com.

In five years' time I'll be:
Hopefully still curious to learn, have lived and worked overseas for a while – (Amsterdam would be amazing), and have navigated whatever the next big media tipping point is.

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