Young Guns: Unruly senior sales manager Sarah Ackerly

By AdNews | 26 October 2017
Sarah Ackerly

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 Melbourne to speak to Unruly senior sales manager Sarah Ackerly.

How long have you been in the industry?

Four years.

Duration in current role/time at the company:

Four months.

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

Exploring the dark, but oh-so delicious depths of programmatic at Amnet, the Dentsu Aegis Trading Desk. I landed on Unruly when the YouTube crisis happened and the video landscape was cracked open.

Define your job in one word:


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

Work hard, play hard.

How does the reality match up? 

Work smart, not hard. Play always.

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

Unruly’s mission is to be the team and tech that transforms digital advertising for the better. We are tasked with creating better ad experiences, improved brand outcomes, and increased revenues for top-tier publishers – no pressure.

My role is to spread the Unruly gospel to marketers, agencies, trading desks, and my loved ones who still have no idea what I do for a living.

Best thing about the industry you work in:

The people. I challenge any other industry to cough up a more passionate, innovative, strategically minded, ready-to-debate-until-blue-in-the-face bunch, who are all connected by a common goal to deliver the unprecedented.

Any major hard learnings in the job so far?

You’re not always going to have the answer, but that’s why you have a team. Working in digital means you become comfortable the with uncomfortable very quickly. Chances are if you know exactly what is going on, you’ve probably missed the boat.

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

Strategic partnerships or investment. Being tasked with understanding the landscape in its current form, while looking ahead to predict the right strategic alignment would be an exciting challenge.

What's exciting you about the industry right now? 

Transparency. The industry has opened its eyes to the teething issues that come with an emerging medium, digital. If we can identify and talk about our downfalls, we are signalling a commitment learn and evolve from them.

What concerns you about the industry and its future?

Transparency. Innovations such as programmatic have been beaten blue with bad press, I’m concerned people will fail to see the efficiencies behind the bruises.

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

Abdul Yacin has been a guide since my first media gig. He has a way of disagreeing with every opinion you have, while you may walk away in fits of rage, chances are he has unlocked a new perspective.

And your almighty mentor that you hope to dethrone?

Unruly co-founder Sarah Wood, despite killer accolades in tech, including #3 Coolest Women in Tech and Adtech Personality of the Year 2016, I can only hope to possess her level of unrelenting authenticity and passion.

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

After working publisher side, agency side, trading desk and ad-tech side (insert un-loyal millennial comment here) my only solid plan for the next three years is to stay unbiased, stay open minded and stay passionate about doing the right thing by the person that keeps us all employed, the consumer.

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

Data transparency, we all call it the Wild West but no one is calling the sheriff on these coin counting bandits.

Where do you turn for inspiration?

I have a weirdly motivating obsession of LinkedIn stalking people who are in a position I would want to be in.

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

I was part of a camping and fishing club for 10 years.

Favourite advert is:

What’s your personal motto?

If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.

I got into advertising/ad tech/marketing etc because:

Beanbags, pool tables, breakfast bars.

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

Chief Firewarden.

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