In 2009, Garret Fitzgerald was killing it as a copywriter for Samuelson Talbot & Partners, which saw him become one of B&T‘s 30 Under 30 winners. Since then, he’s moved on up in the ranks and is now a creative director at CHEP.
As part of our celebratory content series marking 10 years since B&T‘s first ever 30 Under 30, we tracked down Fitzgerald to find out what he’s up to now. If you missed the others profiled in the series, check them out here.
Hear from Fitzgerald below about how his career has changed since then, and what he believes to be the biggest changes facing the advertising, marketing and media industries.
Then: copywriter, Samuelson Talbot & Partners
Now: creative director, CHE Proximity
At 25, Fitzgerald was one of B&T ‘s younger 30 Under 30 nominees who had already achieved a lot. He was the print Young Lions winner for Australia in 2009, Dux of his class at the AFA Adschool copywriting course, top 10 in Award School Vic in 2008 and chairman of the Victoria AFA Youngbloods in 2007.
Having started as an intern at Clemenger BBDO and McCann Erickson, he was soon taken on as an account executive at JWT Melbourne. After a promotion to account manager, Fitzgerald changed course to follow his dream and become a copywriter when he was accepted into Award School. He even made some spare cash driving a forklift as he built up his portfolio.
Garret was then offered a position at BMF Sydney and then returned to Melbourne to work for ST&P.
ECD at 303 Simon Langley said, “In my time working with Garret, he demonstrated all the qualities needed to become a star of the future. He has already tasted success (and the odd glass of rose) by winning the Young Lions Competition and a trip to Cannes last year, but what has been equally impressive is his attitude.
“It’s refreshing to see a young creative who is just as passionate about generating ideas for clients that will make a difference to their business, as they are about making a name for themselves and winning awards.”
What did it mean to you at the ripe age of 25 that you were chosen as one of B&T’s 30 Under 30?
For this answer, I ran a search on my old Facebook posts. Turns out 25 year old me was pretty happy with himself, and just as happy to let the world know about it.
Status update reads: “Have had a good week – got listed in B&T mags 30 under 30 and also got to see passion pit”.
I can’t remember the gig. However, I can remember it was great to be listed amongst such a talented group. I’d like to assure anyone reading this that I’ve learnt to rein the status updates in.
How do you think being nominated affected your career, if at all?
Acknowledgments like 30 under 30 are great because they confirm that hard work can lead to good things. Also, a pat on the back can double as a nice push onwards – it certainly was for me.
What’s been the biggest change to your life since then?
Marrying my wife Emily, and having a son together (Jack 16 months). Em keeps me grounded. Jack keeps me on my toes.
What words of wisdom would you have shared with your 25 year old self back then knowing what you do now?
Calm down. The ads will still be there when you wake up in the morning.
What are you most proud of?
My career has allowed me to experience some amazing highs, as well some significant lows. I think the fact I’m still here in a creative dept (and enjoying it) is something in itself. It can be a pretty tricky gig and the hours/pace can wear thin over the years. However, reaching a point where you can pass some knowledge down is really rewarding and I love being able to help the teams shape their work.
What do you see as the biggest challenges that face young people in advertising, marketing and media these days? Conversely, what’s the biggest opportunity for those under 30 now?
There are so many specialisations and roles today that I think it can be hard to figure out where to start, and then even harder to define a clear path for yourself.
However, there’s also mass opportunity within that. You can try things and move around. The industry is becoming more fluid and doesn’t begrudge people for shorter stints. If you want to gain new skills in new areas, it’s getting easier to make that happen.
What can the industry do better to attract and retain young talent?
The best thing about this industry is the amazing brainpower within it. From mentorships to training, the more we can connect young talent to the talent at the top, the better we’ll all be for it.
Entries for this year’s 30 Under 30 Awards are now closed (although entries for the Snapchat Young Lions Competition just opened). The shortlist for B&T‘s tenth 30 Under 30 will be released Tuesday 26 March. Tickets for the award night on Thursday 11 April are on sale now.