Thinkerbell CEO Margie Reid Talks Her Journey, Client Wins & Gender Representation In Adland

Thinkerbell CEO Margie Reid Talks Her Journey, Client Wins & Gender Representation In Adland

The Leadership Summit: Women in Marketing will be held on Friday 13 May (virtually) where industry leaders will discuss career progression, being-customer centric and the future of marketing technology. You can purchase tickets to the event HERE.

CEO of Thinkerbell, Margie Reid will be the keynote speaker. In this article, she talks with Suzie Veitch about how she navigated her career path and her transition to CEO.

With more than 22 years of industry experience, 18 of those in media, Reid has developed a reputation as one of the most trusted, and professional operators within the media and advertising landscape. She is also renowned for her exceptional client focus underpinned by transparency and accountability.

Joining the company as an equity partner in early 2018 with a focus to help create a new agency model, Reid has led Thinkerbell from start-up to grown-up in four short years.

She has tripled the size of the agency during the last two years alone, despite the complexities of operating a business during Covid; manages over 120 staff and growing; and is a business partner across two other business in Decade of Action (DOA) and SPACE.

Veitch: Tell us a bit about how you navigated your career – from what you studied at university to the roles prior to Thinkerbell?

Reid: I was fairly sick as a little girl and not overly academic, but after taking part in work experience in an ad agency in Year 10, I knew I wanted to work in advertising. So naturally, like many of my peers, I undertook a Business Advertising Degree at RMIT. My first job was being a media assistant for Pat Crowley at DDB, when media was connected with creative.

After a few years at the newly formed OMD, I moved to Carat Melbourne. Being a team of initially only 5, there was so much experience from my time working in the agency and with my colleagues, that I drew on in the early days of Thinkerbell.

The move to OMD and the 11 years I was there were a huge part of my career. The learning opportunities, highs and setbacks I had there, definitely shaped me as a leader. The people I had the opportunity to work with, both in the agency team and clients, were beyond exceptional. Deciding to leave was not easy, but there is a point in your career where you have to take yourself outside of your comfort zone and back yourself to try something different.

This led me to join Thinkerbell as an equity partner with 3 partners (Adam Ferrier, Jim Ingrim and Ben ‘Cuz’ Couzens) and a passive partnership with PwC Australia. Building a business is never easy, but the highs passion and drive, definitely outweigh the lows! Every spend bump is a learning experience and a new opportunity to embrace.

What’s been one of your best or favourite wins with a client that you’re still talking about today! And why?

When a client chooses to appoint you on their business, it is a real honour! A win for the team who have worked so hard on the pitch for over possibly months; a win for the business to be backed by another company; and a win for the chemistry and work to stand out that little more than the other talented competitors … it is always a rush.”

I’m not sure I can call out just one, there are so many! But I will say this … there is an enormous high that comes from a client renewing your contract after a continuous strong working relationship, where they have achieved their goals and objectives. This is equally memorable.

Australian Ad Agencies are sitting around 30 per cent female representation in CEO positions, how did you find the transition to CEO of Thinkerbell, and what did you find as the biggest challenges?

When I joined the partnership at Thinkerbell, the partners, Jim, Adam and Cuz, wanted me to be CEO from the beginning. To me, it felt odd when there was only a handful of us. For me, taking the title of CEO should happen when we had scaled. It wasn’t a shift of any great significance as I was a managing partner prior at OMD.

The biggest thing we agreed upon when I joined the agency was the agreement on the split of my role between agency CEO and shareholder. All four partners share dual roles between their agency position and as a shareholder, and before any meeting, we agree on what role we’re undertaking (agency or shareholder?). Ninety-nine per cent of the time I’m CEO and one per cent of the time, I’m a shareholder.

We spent time getting this right from the beginning, so it wouldn’t cause issues down the track. So far it’s worked well!

The best advice you’ve been given; and what advice you’d offer a young professional in the industry?

See everything as a learning opportunity, and it’s a journey of learning, it never stops if you are open to it.”

B&T would like to offer our subscribers and members a 20 per cent discount on the ticket price for the upcoming The Leadership Summit: Women in Marketing event. Use the code bihminus20 to activate this offer.

For further event info and to purchase tickets, click HERE.

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