Young Guns: MediaCom strategy director, David Toussaint

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 13 July 2016
David Toussaint.

Our Young Guns profile takes a weekly look at some of the young talent aged 30 or under 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. Last week we spoke to Fairfax senior native brand specialist, Kathryn Wills.

This week, we head to Sydney to speak to MediaCom strategy director David Toussaint.

How long have you been in the industry?

Five years.

Duration in current role/time at the company:

I’ve been with MediaCom from the beginning, except this is my third office – Melbourne, London and now Sydney. One of the benefits of Mediacom is the opportunity to work across different markets. 

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

At university, playing music in a Melbourne dive bar. They didn’t have the heart to tell me what I now know. I can’t actually sing or play guitar, and my hands are made out of broken terracotta pots – so I called a recruiter and asked to go into advertising with the rest of the failed musicians. 

Define your job in one word:


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

That there would be a bunch of fat white men in shirts lunching all the time.

How does the reality match up? 

Luckily, the industry is changing. There is definitely more of a focus on getting people in with different backgrounds, views and experiences. Not one member of my team was born in the same place, studied the same thing, or is in a syndicate that owns a racehorse – and that’s fantastic. 

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

Solves business problems through the lens of communications. I help find out what those problems are amongst a plethora of information and set a game plan to solve them. 

Best thing about the industry you work in:  

You can forge your own path. It’s not the same industry it was a year ago, let alone what it could turn into in a years’ time. 

Any major hard learnings in the job so far?

When I started, I was in an implementation role and quickly racked up the most account queries in the history of the company. I was nervous, I had the CFO sending me angry emails and felt useless. It took a strong mentor to help me establish what I wanted and what my skillset was to move me into a creative role where I felt I could add value and step into my own. Shout out to Fi Meldrum for encouraging weirdness. 

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

If I had to move, it would be to an MBA (MediaCom Beyond Advertising), the people who put the content in our content and connections. They’re superstars who demand the focus of MediaCom globally for constantly taking on jobs and projects that would have traditionally gone to creative agencies and smashing them. 

What's exciting you about the industry right now? 

Flux. It’s an industry where anything can happen and change in an instant based on a new way of thinking or a development in tech. 

What concerns you about the industry and its future?

To be completely honest I have to say that I personally don’t worry about communications and advertising’s future. I know it’s a very popular conversation that very smart people like Willie Pang our CDO are working on, but it’s not for me.

It’s like the creative vs media hoopla that people get stuck on, I don’t see the point. My concern is doing great work in the immediate future based on the current setting we are in. And it will be the same focus based on whatever has changed, and whatever has been invented in the “future”. 

Who's your right hand person/who guides you day to day?

Mike Deane, our head of strategy who also let me live in his house in the UK when I had nowhere to live. Also Fi Meldrum in the Melbourne team, who got me into strategy and told me where to find a $1 slice of pizza in London when I was cold, poor and hungry. 

And your almighty mentor that you hope to dethrone?

Nick Palmer, MediaCom's EMEA head of content strategy.  

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

I want to be the head of Global Creative Solutions, a team that doesn’t exist yet. GCS would be a crackpot team of strange people from different backgrounds who solve business problems through creative and comms and have a generally good time in life with a respectable collection of hats and jumpers. 

What is the elephant in the room? The thing that no one is talking about – but they should be.

People talk about diversity a lot now, but I’m not sure many large organisations are actually taking notice. That’s a big question though. 

Where do you turn for inspiration?  

Douglas Adams, who could observe the world and see the humour in the simple day-to-day. 

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

I have a deathly hallows tattoo andI’d trade them all in for a Hogwarts letter. 

Favourite advert is:

Skittles Leak – and for the life of me I don’t know why.

What’s your personal motto?

Don’t panic. 

I got into advertising/ad tech/marketing because:

It’s a global job. 

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

A people and culture consultant selling advertising agency culture to traditionally drier working environments. 

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