EssenceMediacom’s CEO Pippa Berlocher: “I Would Not Be The Right CEO For An Agency That Was Done & Dusted”

EssenceMediacom’s CEO Pippa Berlocher: “I Would Not Be The Right CEO For An Agency That Was Done & Dusted”

After 14 years in Singapore, Pippa Berlocher (lead image) has returned to Australia. She has not just returned for any media role, but arguably THE media role – the role of CEO at EssenceMediacom.

Launched officially in January, EssenceMediacom Australia is a juggernaut which hires more than 550 people and earns circa $1 billion in billings annually.

It has the magnitude of an established agency, while simultaneously being something new. This brings positives and negatives -something Berlocher is aware of.

“We’ve launched a brand new agency, we are on a journey, and we have a lot of work to do,” she said.

“And that’s why I’m here, right? I have that entrepreneurial background. I’m a builder. I love that and I would not be the right CEO for a business that was all done and dusted. I want to get my hands dirty and build something. And we’re very much on a journey to do that.”

Berlocher (right) with GroupM CEO Aimee Buchanan

An entrepreneurial career

Berlocher is no stranger to change or chaos, in fact it was chaos that drew her to media in the first place.

She made her move into media when she was working as a door-to-door sales person in London.

“I was on the tube and I picked up the Metro newspaper. There was an ad for a “girl Friday” – how politically incorrect is THAT!?,” she said laughing.

“It was for a media assistant but they called it a ‘girl Friday’.”

Thankfully the risk paid off.

“I just loved it. I think the people who thrive in our industry – because it’s chaos, right – they’re very dynamic. People either thrive in that environment or they survive in that environment.”

Berlocher’s career has been different to most people’s in the industry, she said.

“For my first role at that independent agency, I stayed with them for 17-and-a-half-years. I was just really lucky in that they grew as an organisation – so I got more opportunity and more exposure to different things.”

It was in this role that Berlcocher gained her love of entrepreneurialism.

“I opened up their first Sydney office back in 2007 and it was so much fun. It was proper grassroots – we had to find an office, we had to put in the phone lines, we had to work on just trying to meet clients and be profitable.”

She got the chance to do it all over again when she was asked to build the office in Singapore in 2009.

I get bored relatively easily and I’m always looking for that next challenge or opportunity,” she said.

“Because the business was growing, my role changed every 18 months. I got exposure to different geographies, I got exposure to different regions and roles of the business. And that was unbelievable and a really big learning curve.”

Coming back to Australia

Whilst Berlocher speaks highly of her time in Singapore, a lot has changed in her personal life since she first moved there.

“I’d been in Singapore for 14 years. I moved to Singapore as a young single woman ready to take on the world and now I’m returning married with three children.

Whilst she loved her job as CEO for Reprise APAC, she started to get excited about EssenceMediacom when GroupM CEO Aimee Buchanan reached out.

“Aimee reached out to me, and I went through the process, and I have to say I loved the process. I loved everyone I spoke to,” she said.

Here she says she needs to give a special mention to Pat Crowley who previously held the position of CEO at EssenceMediacom.

“I asked specifically to speak to him in my interview process,” she said and “I just loved him”.

“He had flagged that he didn’t want to do the role and that he just wanted to go back to running the bank (CommBank) – which he is brilliant at. And so I wanted to have a chat with him and say ‘how do you feel about someone else coming in?’ and he was just so direct and transparent and human and I adored him. When I started he was so supportive to me, and coming in and having the support of someone that had done the role was really valuable”.

Plans for EssenceMediacom

With Essence and Mediacom being such different businesses, Berlocher says it was important to get a clear direction for the business.

“We are positioning ourselves as a ‘breakthrough agency’. So it’s really helping our clients ‘breakthrough’ in the new communications economy”.

“Media has fundamentally changed,” she explains.

“The media used to be to educate and inform. Now we can fall in love through media, we can get excited, we can argue. How we can engage with consumers has fundamentally changed and that is an opportunity for clients but its also a real challenge.

“I think people like that as a proposition, but it has to connect to what we’re doing and there has to be  something tangible. Otherwise, it’s just a really nice narrative. So for me, the entire vision to this year is to bring breakthrough to life, and get clear proof points.”

One of the tools she is really keen to zoom in on to make this happen is craft, particularly in areas such as media planning and client services which she says “really is a craft in itself”.

As someone coming in and bringing two businesses together, Berlocher is acutely aware of the importance of everyone being on the same page. This was particularly important when it came to values.

While she says EssenceMediacom’s global values were great and good guiding principles, we needed to ensure our values really connected with who we are and what we stand for in Australia. So, we went on the journey with our people to define our core values and really embed them into the business.

Whilst the vision for EssenceMediacom is still emerging, one thing is for sure – with Berlocher at the helm, people will be at the centre of it.

“The only way that we can be successful is by winning the hearts and minds of our people,” Berlocher said, “everything comes down to people.”


Please login with linkedin to comment

EssenceMediaCom Pippa Berlocher

Latest News

The Case For Nature: Let The Media & Advertising Industries Tell A Story & Tell It Well
  • Advertising

The Case For Nature: Let The Media & Advertising Industries Tell A Story & Tell It Well

Last year, Siddarth Shrikanth published The Case for Nature: Pioneering Solutions for the Other Planetary Crisis. Catherine de Clare caught up with him at the Jaipur Literary Festival in India this year. Shrikanth currently works as a director on the Investment team at Just Climate, a sustainability-focused investment fund chaired by former US vice president Al […]