Everyone needs a comforting hand on the shoulder, a point in the right direction and a bit of friendly constructive criticism every now and then — especially in adland.
It’s at those junctures that people need a good mentor to help them out. Now, while no mentorship is ever really bad, there are some figures in the industry who are transformative in the lives and careers of their mentees. We’re sure you can guess who some of these might be but, as ever, B&T is here to reveal the Best of the Best, Presented by Finecast, part of GroupM Nexus.
In the coming weeks and months, we will be revealing the Best of the Best in the following categories: Public Relations – Consumer, Strategist – Media, Developer, Casting Director, Industry Association Chief, Experiential Producer, Social Change Maker, Journalist, HR, Planning Director – Media, and Marketer.
Everyone always asks how we come up with these lists and, frankly, it’s an inexact science. We talk to all our industry insiders to produce a long list of names and then, as an editorial team, we shout and bicker across the office to whittle that list down to just 10. So, with that out the way, here are adland’s Best of the Best Mentors.
10. Andy Procopis, head of campaign design & delivery, ARN
Leading ARN’s campaigns team, Procopis is responsible for one of the most important teams within the radio network and has previously been a nominee for the Mentor category in B&T‘s Best of the Best Awards. “Getting to coach and support the people I work with is one of my favourite parts of the job” he said when the shortlist was announced and that certainly hasn’t changed. With Procopis on board, everyone at ARN stands to benefit.
9. Lara Brownlow, head of channel sales APAC, LinkedIn
Brownlow is the first of many members of the IMAA’s Female Leaders of Tomorrow programme on this list and she has helped countless people throughout her near-decade at LinkedIn. She has openly spoken about the mentors who made her, saying she was “blessed to have crossed paths with some of the most remarkable and giving mentors”. Brownlow has also helped elevate the careers of LinkedIn staff from around APAC and regularly talks about the role of leadership within organisations.
8. Nikki Rooke, Sydney sales director, Nine
If you want to get ahead in the world of media sales, you could barely do better Rooke. She’s part of the IMAA’s Female Leaders programme and has openly spoken about the importance of being safe to approach and showing mentees that you believe in them. She leads Nine’s award-winning sales team, showing that she is able to improve the work and lives of her dedicated mentees as well as her regular reports.
7. Melinda Petrunoff, managing director, Australia & New Zealand, Pinterest
Petrunoff has one of the most important jobs in the world of digital media and, while Pinterest goes from strength to strength, she also makes time to help the industry’s young guns get ahead. Another member of the IMAA’s Female Leaders programme, Petrunoff dedicates her precious time to elevating the next generation of women. She also sits on the IAB’s Executive Technology Council, offering oversight on the digital advertising world.
6. Katie Rigg-Smith, chief strategy officer, Australia & New Zealand, WPP
Promoted to the chief strategy role at WPP last year, Rigg-Smith is a titan in Australia’s adland. However, she has been a mentor for up-and-comers in the industry for many, many years. In fact, she has been part of The Marketing Academy’s mentorship programmes since 2015 and has coached some of the industry’s current best and brightest in that time. Another face on B&T‘s Women in Media Power List (she came 17th this year, if you’re keeping score) she is also a regular speaker on leadership and all manner of topics, using her wisdom to help others that she doesn’t directly mentor, as well.
5. Melissa Fein, CEO, Initiative
Rarely a day goes by when we’re not mentioning Fein here on B&T. She was our Women in Media Woman of the Year and our Best of the Best Mentor last year. We’re not saying that Fein has become a worse mentor with her fifth place here, just that the competition is very, very strong. Under her tenure, Initiative has grown to become a powerhouse within the industry and much of that success has come from her mentorship and empowerment of the agency’s young guns.
4. Emma Robbins, executive creative director, M&C Saatchi Melbourne
Female ECDs can be hard to come by, making Robbins’ career impressive and instructive to others within advertising. Fortunately, Robbins is generous with her time as part of The Aunties — the adland mentoring group of powerful women and the next generation. Robbins is part of The Aunties’ senior mentorship program designed for women with between five and 10 years in the industry looking for wisdom, guidance and support as they navigate their way towards leadership.
3. Margie Reid, CEO, Thinkerbell
Reid has had an exceptional career in advertising, having previously served at OMD and UM. But, moving to Thinkerbell in 2017, saw her take on a leadership role within the independent shop and bring some order to the creativity chaos. Since then, the team has grown to 160-strong and many of those staff have come straight from university and progressed up the ladder with the agency — with Reid playing a big and important role in their success. She is also a mentor to university entrants working with The Aunties and The Trenches. That kind of impact is hard to overstate.
2. Cathy O’Connor, CEO, oOh!media
O’Connor is one of the most powerful women in media. In fact, she came second in our Women in Media Power List just last month. But, with great power comes great responsibility and O’Connor is certainly no stranger to taking mentorship of other future leaders very seriously. She’s one of the IMAA’s Female Leaders of Tomorrow programme that pairs experienced industry heads with impressive up-and-comers from around the indie agency scene. What’s more, Danielle O’Meara, oOh!’s NSW sales director has personally thanked her boss for leading her through a moment when she “battled with my career aspirations versus starting a family.”
1. Sarah Scott Paul, head of people & culture – Australia, Enero Group
Scott Paul is not only a very deserving winner for our Mentor category but she’s a popular winner here at B&T. Last month, Scott Paul took home the trophy in the Mentor category during our Women in Media Awards and, frankly, it’s very hard to think of anyone who has made more of an impact on her company and the people who work within it. She’s spent the last decade making Enero a better place to work for its staff through various initiatives and developing a human-centric learning culture consisting of more than 50 courses for staff to undertake. Some 180 leaders have graduated through her courses to date, making her impact unmistakable.
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