Fast 10: B&T Chats Building Trust With Publicis Groupe & Spark Foundry’s Imogen Hewitt

Fast 10: B&T Chats Building Trust With Publicis Groupe & Spark Foundry’s Imogen Hewitt
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

Imogen Hewitt has spent the last twenty years learning, honing, and learning some more in full-service media and creative agencies in Australia and Southeast Asia. At the start of this year, she was named the chief media officer at Publicis Groupe in addition to her role as CEO of ANZ at Spark Foundry.

1. Congrats on your promotion at the end of last year, so richly deserved. What elements of your new role are you excited about?

Thank you, Sparrow. I have been so grateful for the many messages of congratulations and support. Who said this industry is all about ferocious competition? Well, ok, that is part of it, but there is also a lot of lifting people up! Anyway, sorry, I’m distracted already. Fast 10 could be tricky with me!

I’m excited about everything. We have an amazing depth of disciplines and agency brands, full of super smart people delivering brilliant products for our wealth of ambitious clients. We have incredible work happening here and around the world on our internal product, how we operate and how that delivers industry-defining work.

My role gives me the opportunity to better connect all those elements by accelerating connections locally and globally. How could I be anything other than jazzed about that?

2. Your current clients are quite big advocates of you. How have you built that valuable trust over time?

By being honest, always. Admitting to what I don’t know and not pretending otherwise. Being genuinely, deeply curious about how our clients’ businesses work and authentically who I am. No pretence. It’s taken me so long to embrace that last one (most of the time). Being you is the best and easiest way to build real relationships. Funny that!

I also reckon getting it wrong (both the big and small things), owning your mistakes, and working relentlessly to make them right again accelerates trust. I do not, however, advocate that we get things wrong on purpose in order to get them right again—that’s just silly!

3. I keep getting mixed messages: how is the year ahead shaping up for your client base?

Stable and hopeful. I think we’ll see more investment and general enthusiasm come H2, with the proposed tax cuts mid-year likely to deliver some cash into households and create a bit of a return to confidence for consumers and clients alike. Having said that, the pitch landscape has really surprised me. It’s been hot out-of-the-blocks, with a lot of potential movement in Q2 and Q3.

4. With so much happening in the media world, how do you stay on top of things?

I don’t think you can stay on top of everything, but you can have brilliant people keeping up with specific things. I am a huge believer in asking the experts for help and giving them all the credit for the expertise they share. Of course, I read constantly, listen carefully, and seek out knowledge that I think can help our people and our clients. However, I often lean into the luxury of having such amazing people around me to help fill in my inevitable gaps.

5. What’s your No 1 priority for 24?

Sustainable growth. For me, that means balancing new growth with contented clients and profitability with engaged people. Easy to say, but a bit harder to consistently get right.

6. How would your clients describe your leadership style?

Obsessed with people. Obsessed with creating clarity. Obsessed with delivery.

I take the work seriously, but not myself seriously.

7. What’s your go to routine to relax and unwind with your family?

We love drama. Seriously, my family is like the Von Trapps. In my kids, I have an actor, dancer, comedian, and a dancer, singer, triple threat. It’s wild, funny, loud, and silly. It’s hard not to be fully engaged and enjoying the ridiculousness of it all in that context. Thankfully, my completely delightful (but less theatrical) husband supports our nonsense with his passion for amazing food and unending good humour. He also has noise-cancelling headphones that come out periodically. Fair.

8. With the current economic headwinds, what are your clients’ challenges for the year?

I had a real ‘Aha!’ moment on this in 2023. Spark Foundry runs an annual research study that aims to help us understand the big issues for clients and whether agencies understand them well enough to be of real value. One of the questions was about how client needs change in a volatile economy. The resounding answer was that client needs actually remain the same. The differentiating factors were consumer insights, deep knowledge of their business, an unrelenting desire to do more with less and irrefutable evidence of what works.

9. Can you tell us something that’s not on your LinkedIn profile?

I’m naturally quite introverted. Sure, I am now pretty comfortable on a stage and thrive managing the hundreds of connections I make with people every day. I still need (and know I need) quiet and alone time, though, to really feel recharged and fully at my best.

10. Do your parents or kids really know what you do?

Kind of. They get the industry broadly, and they get the day-to-day conversations involved pretty well. I suspect my mum would say, ‘advertising’ and my kids would say, ‘she get’s to go to cool events’, if asked for a fast answer. I’m good with that. They are more interested in who I am than what I do. For them, I am just ‘my kid’ and ‘my mum’ respectively.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Fast 10 imogen hewitt Publicis Groupe Spark Foundry

Latest News

Sydney Comedy Festival: Taking The City & Social Media By Storm
  • Media

Sydney Comedy Festival: Taking The City & Social Media By Storm

Sydney Comedy Festival 2024 is live and ready to rumble, showing the best of international and homegrown talent at a host of venues around town. As usual, it’s hot on the heels of its big sister, the giant that is the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, picking up some acts as they continue on their own […]

Global Marketers Descend For AANA’s RESET For Growth
  • Advertising

Global Marketers Descend For AANA’s RESET For Growth

The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) has announced the final epic lineup of local and global marketing powerhouses for RESET for Growth 2024. Lead image: Josh Faulks, chief executive officer, AANA  Back in 2000, a woman with no business experience opened her first juice bar in Adelaide. The idea was brilliantly simple: make healthy […]