Young Guns: MediaCom group digital director, Sam Russell

By AdNews | 24 May 2016
MediaCom's group digital director Sam Russell.

Our Young Guns profile takes a weekly look at some of the buzzing 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.

This week, we head to Sydney to meet Sam Russell, group digital director at MediaCom.

How long have you been in the industry? 

Nine years.

Duration in current role/time at the company: 

2.5 years.

What were you doing before this job and how did you get this gig? 

I’d left MediaCom to go to Fairfax, to get an understanding as to how a large publisher operates and to learn new skills, after a year I realised I missed agency life. The relationships that I had made previously held me in good stead as my previous bosses made it very easy for me to come back into a new role at MediaCom.

Define your job in one word: 


What were your real and cliché expectations of working in the industry? 

Despite studying advertising at university I had little understanding as to what to expect from an agency role and the clichés were lost on me. However, after lots of lunches on London’s Charlotte street and Thursday night parties, cliché or not I realised I was in a work hard play hard industry, with talented people and lots of opportunities.

How does the reality match up? 

Talented people and lots of opportunities.

How would you describe what the company does and what does your role involve? 

I work at a media agency, but really we’re a solutions business. We work with clients to help them achieve business goals. I’m driving the agency’s programmatic offering, building on our tech, media and data expertise to deliver business results.

Best thing about the industry you work in:

Progressive and fast paced.

Any major hard learnings in the job so far? 

You have to find a work-life balance.

If you had to switch over to another department, which would it be and why? 

Business science – being able to better manage, understand and act on data is where the competitive advantage comes from and the MediaCom business science team are some of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with.

What's exciting you about the industry right now? 

That Australia is front and centre, often quoted as one of the top markets in the world in its approach to digital, it’s great to be in such a fast paced market, as well as getting to live by the beach.

What concerns you about the industry and its future? 

That clients will continue to see ‘media agencies’ as ‘media’ agencies.

Who guides you day to day? 

Willie Pang. Our CDO came into the business six months ago and we have been rocketing forward ever since.

And your almighty mentor that you hope to dethrone? 

John Miskelly, he gave me my first job in Australia and I continue to learn from him. I’ve no plans to dethrone him though, despite his awful football banter.

Career-wise, where do you see yourself in 2020 and how do you plan on getting there? 

A leader within the business, by constantly pushing myself to learn and apply new skills.

What is the elephant in the room? 

The thing that no one is talking about – but they should be. Are agencies still the place where twenty-somethings see themselves building a long-term career?

Where do you turn for inspiration? 

The MediaCom network is a major asset, and we’re continuing to get better at knowledge sharing around the world. There are global conference calls on key topics such as mobile, programmatic or brand safety, as well as an ever-growing intranet resource. And of course, there’s also AdNews.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you? 

I used to be a lead singer in a band.

Favourite advert is: 

Sony Bravia. Balls.

What’s your personal motto? 

Always have a point of view, and never be afraid to ask for advice.

I got into advertising/ad tech/marketing because: 

I went through a graduate recruitment program at a media agency after university and haven’t looked back since.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be: 

A barista.

Fancy taking part in our Young Guns Profile? Or have someone to nominate? Email:

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