Ten Years On From The First 30 Under 30: Oliver Baker

Ten Years On From The First 30 Under 30: Oliver Baker
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

In 2010, B&T published a special 30 Under 30 issue of the magazine, an Australian first revealing the 30 brightest marketing communications professionals under the age of 30.

To mark the 10 year anniversary of these awards, we’ve been tracking down our original winners and finding out where they are now.

Today’s former 30 Under 30 nominee has landed in San Diego where he holds the chief executive position at Hydralyte, a familiar drink to most of the B&T office, who have been known to suffer the odd mid-week hangover.

Despite being based in California, Baker has kindly offered to provide mentoring via skype to this year’s 30 Under 30 Grand Prix winner. So what are you waiting for? Make sure you get your entry in pronto.

Oliver Baker

Then: senior account director, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment

Now: chief executive officer, Hydralyte

Starting his career in 2004 at Red Bull in Melbourne, Baker moved to M&C Saatchi in 2005 where he fast became a rising star.

He worked on large accounts like Qantas and ANZ, led successful pitches and worked with M&C global chairman Tom Dery on a strategy for Qantas supporting sponsorships that led to the creation of M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment.

Becoming one of the foundation members of the new company, Baker worked across major projects including the FIFA World Cup, AFL indigenous programs and the 2010 Qantas Australian Grand Prix.

Former client Jenny Gulliver who now heads up marketing for Rebel, said at the time, “In my 16 year career in marketing, Ollie is one of the best account managers I have had the pleasure to work with.

“When I was head of marketing at Qantas, Ollie was a key member of the team who played an integral role for Qantas’ advertising… He is a consummate professional along with being a pleasure to work with.”


What did it mean to you that you were chosen as one of B&T’s 30 Under 30 at the ripe age of 28?

I didn’t even think about it until everyone in the M&C Saatchi coffee shop starting teasing me about it!

I’d put so much work into the Qantas account and the launch of M&C Sport so it was a real honour, both from B&T and from everyone at work who nominated me in the first place.

How do you think being nominated affected your career, if at all?

I guess it validated that I was on the right track. For me, the biggest thing was that I was nominated internally. So, my bosses (Tom Dery and Andrew Condon) were happy with the work I was doing.

What’s been the biggest change to your life since then?

I changed career trajectory a few years later into a sales and marketing role at Swisse. That really changed my life and also my perspective of how to develop a healthy business with a strong brand. I think time on both sides of the creative lens is important.

What words of wisdom would you have shared with your 28-year old self back then, knowing what you do now?

I would have made sure I understood my client’s business better and I would have tried to do more with small clients. I think we all woke up each day wanting to do great creative work but I think we all needed to better understand that we were an amplifier for our client’s business, not ourselves.

As for small business, it makes you really understand the ROI that is going into any marketing spend rather than just ‘allocating budget’.

What are you most proud of?

Aside from my now growing family, it’s being able to adapt throughout my career. I’ve had many ups and and downs and been able to dust myself off and keep learning and improving.

What do you see as the biggest challenges that face young people in advertising, marketing and media these days?

I think it’s a great time to be in the industry now because marketing performance is much more accountable in the digital economy and it turns out great advertising works a treat.

If you are on a big account making or buying TV, print and billboards you’re probably in a declining space…take the pain now and join a growing part of the industry, even if you go backwards.

Conversely, what’s the biggest opportunity for those under 30 now?

The biggest opportunity for agencies now is to support emerging businesses scale up. Take financial stakes in small business, help them scale and then reward the team with their successes (or failure)!

Product design is also a really underrated part of the agency world that will continue to be really important moving forward. That’s everything from brand story and identity, packaging, live events etc.

What can the industry do better to attract and retain young talent?

Sell the culture of the place better. That’s the best part about working in an agency. Find the good people in the agency and mentor them properly too.

I got lots of that and it was amazing because it promotes loyalty. I worked for one agency my entire career and I have Tom Mac, Tom Dery and Andrew Condon to thank for that.

Also, pay them more! My first salary was half that of my peers in other industries and that was a constant frustration. The agency should target and invest in the top people like other industries do. In hindsight I probably wasn’t worth that much back then so I’m probably getting ahead of myself.

Entries for B&T‘s 30 Under 30 Awards for 2019 are now open. For all the details, click here. As if you needed any more motivation to enter, the Grand Prix winner this year will have the opportunity to be mentored by Hydralyte chief exec Oliver Baker himself (via skype).   

30 Under 30 Awards 2019 sponsor block

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