Agency Sym
Agency Leaders Symposium 2022


This carefully crafted program combines inspiring keynotes with informal activities and time to build real relationships.

Agency Leaders Symposium agenda



Delegate Registration

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Welcome Drinks

Sponsored by Triplelift




Breakfast & Welcome


Opening Comments

Chris Savage, The Savage Company – Conference MC

Savage co


International Fireside Chat: No Bullsh*t Leadership and Single-Minded Focus for Turbulent Times

Chris Hirst, Global CEO, Havas Creative and Author No Bullsh*t Leadership
Virginia Hyland, CEO, Havas Australia

Chris HirstVirginia Hyland
Havas Creative and Havas Australia

We have been through a volatile and bizarre 2 years, however more storm clouds are on the horizon. Increasing inflation and costs of doing business, specifically wages, as well as fragmented media options and greater client expectations, mean leaders have never had more challenges, opportunities and tasks to consider.

However, as a leader, can you make visible progress on everything? A proper strategy is often about what you choose not to focus on (at least for now).

Many of these hard choices will be exacerbated by a significant skill shortage. In a period of change and inflation: business development, leadership, mindset, and motivating employees have never been more vital to an agency. New starters in the industry and staff are not just demanding higher salaries, but a different kind of culture and work environment.

In this session, Virginia Hyland, CEO of Havas Australia, will interview Chris Hirst on his leadership experience as Global CEO of Havas Creative, and as the author of ‘No Bullsh*t Leadership’. Chris leads a team of 11,000 employees across 75 countries and believes in the principles of an open culture – where people are given permission to take risks and make mistakes. He is actively engaged in broadening the appeal and future health of the advertising industry.


Partner Keynote


Panel: The Premier of the 2022 OUCH! Factor Survey Results – The Hidden Cost of Pitching, and What are the Alternatives

Julia Vargiu, Founder, New Business Methodology
Darren Woolley, Founder & Global CEO, Trinity P3
Rose Herceg, President, Australia and New Zealand, WPP
Nick Keenan, CEO, Starcom

Julia VargiuDarren WoolleyRose HercegNick Keenan
New Business Methodology, Trinity P3, WPP, Starcom

The 2021 OUCH! Factor survey found pitching last year cost agencies $100k a pop, and an average of 175 hours was spent on each pitch by agencies, and 125 hours by marketers and procurement. Are agencies and brands aware of how much it is costing them to pitch/ brief out their media & creative, the opportunity cost, and the effect on talented staff, in terms of burnout, particularly with a skills shortage?

In this session, we’ll hear from Julia Vargiu from New Business Methodology as she premiers the OUCH 2022 survey results, before handing over to agency leaders to debate and discuss sourcing new business outside of pitching scenarios. The discussion will establish criteria to walk away from RFPs, and will uncover more strategic methods to win business (before an RFP hits the market).

What are the alternative ways for agencies to position themselves as valuable experts and price on outcomes (not hours), and ultimately avoid competitive RFPs?


Coffee Break & Networking

Sponsored by



Partner Breakouts

Presented by Captify, Gumtree Media and LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

Captify, Hivestack, LinkedIn


Panel: Your People Are the Ultimate Differentiator and Driver of Agency Success

Simone Waugh, Managing Director QLD, Publicis and Assisterhood Mentor
Angela Smith, Chief People, and Brand Officer, AFFINITY (Winner AFR Best Places to Work 2022)
Virginia Scully, People and Culture Director, Hatched Media (Runner-up AFR Best Places to Work 2022)
Sally Kissane, CEO, Ogilvy Australia
Linh Diep, Business Manager, The Special Group, Assisterhood Founder, B&T 30 Under 30 Winner

Simone WaughAngela SmithVirginia ScullySally KissaneLinh Diep
Publicis, Affinity, Hatched Media, The Special Group

The most important asset in any business is its people, and agencies are feeling the effects of a talent short market. Skilled staff are needed to strategise and deliver services and outcomes and are crucial to the growth of the agency (and profitability), but productivity and customer experience are inextricably linked to the work environment and employee experience.

So, how can we better attract and retain talent, enhance culture and mindset to drive better business development, CX and implementation, and empower our staff to lead, ideate, and collaborate?

Agency leaders, organisational psychology experts, and talent experts, as well as new entrants to the industry will come together to explore and share real examples of how we can attract the best talent, improve the employee experience, and ultimately the effectiveness of the agency.

This discussion will cover research around the changing priorities of junior and mid-management staff regarding culture/ work environment, the effects of promoting too soon and best practice mentorship, and lastly the importance of diversity & inclusion and how this improves creativity (internally and within campaigns).

Panel: What Do Clients Want in 2022 and Beyond? A Discussion on Client & Agency Models

The needs and wants (and RFPs) of brands are changing rapidly. However, as an industry have we really been listening?

There are many agency and brand models that can and do work. Rather than speculate as an industry, CMOs will discuss their reasons and rationale for outsourcing vs in-housing, and their reasons for using multiple agencies vs one agency.

Hear from 3 CMOs all with different models, who discuss the considerations, and the pros, cons, and challenges of outsourcing vs in-sourcing.


Partner Breakouts

Presented by, Hivestack and Samsung Ads

carsales, hivestack, samsung ads


Networking Lunch

Sponsored by Criteo



Fireside: LEGOs Global Approach to Media, Creative and Innovation. How LEGO Agency and Initiative Australia Collaborate

Nicole Taylor, Senior Vice President and Head of LEGO Agency, The LEGO Group
Melissa Fein, Chief Executive Officer, Initiative Australia

Nicole TaylorMelissa Fein
The LEGO Group, Initiative

In this fireside chat between Melissa Fein, CEO of Initiative Australia and Nicole Taylor, Senior VP of Marketing and Head of LEGO Agency, Nicole will share her key leadership learnings, based on her 14 years of experience as a CEO/ Managing Partner of DDB Spain, McCann Worldgroup Australia, DDB Australia, George Patterson Y&R Australia, and how LEGO and its agencies Initiative and Huge Inc. collaborate to drive results.

This discussion will cover The LEGO Agencies’ global approach to media and creative, with a focus on integration, innovation, transparency, and speed to react to changing consumer trends and campaigns that aren’t working.

How have Initiative and LEGO collaborated to implement this strategy locally?

Nicole’s work at LEGO is helping drive innovation, which in turn is improving agility, productivity, and transparency.


Wine Tasting

Sponsored by StackAdapt






Go Karting

Sponsored by



Workshop: An Interactive Workshop on Integrity, Capacity, Pillar Practices and Leadership

Session details TBC


Relax + Recharge


Pre-Dinner Drinks Reception

Sponsored by TripleLift



Gala Dinner

Sponsored by Vevo






Villa Checkout


Breakfast & Opening Comments

Chris Savage, The Savage Company – Conference MC

Savage Co


Panel: Intelligent and Realistic Steps We Can All Take on Critical Social Issues in the Decade Ahead

Ebony Gaylor, Managing Partner, Sociologist, Social Futurist, Decade of Action
Adam Ferrier, Founder, Consumer Psychologist, Thinkerbell

DOA, Thinkerbell

Ebony GaylorAdam Ferrier

Session details TBC


Partner Keynote


Panel: Wasted Time and Budget, and Disillusioned Staff. The Premier BetterBriefs Research (Australian Insights). Can Australian Agencies Align on a Pitch Pledge?

Matt Davies, Co-founder and Strategy Director, BetterBriefs
Pieter-Paul von Weiler, Co-founder, BetterBriefs

Better Briefs
Matt DaviesPieter-Paul von Weiler

33% of every marketing budget is wasted on poor briefs and misdirected work. Whilst the monetary and time costs are obvious, what about the effect it has on talented staff, who are demoralised when they feel they’ve worked incredibly hard only to ‘miss the mark’. There is also the opportunity cost of directing your agencies best talent to pitching vs working on current account work.

We’ve been talking about a better briefing process for years now. This panel will urge the industry to align for better pitch guidelines, like the IPA Pitch Pledge, announced in May 2022.

Matt Davies and Pieter-Paul of BetterBriefs, will premier the specific Australian market research of the first global and largest study into marketing briefs.

Matt and Pieter-Paul will discuss their research findings, and the monetary, time, and mental health costs incurred by agencies and clients from poor briefing; the result being misguided pitching, poor proposals, and staff burnout.


Partner Breakouts

Presented by Twitter, Quantcast, Magnite

Twitter, Quantcast, Magnite


Coffee Break & Networking

Sponsored by



Tim Williams

Why Your Revenue Streams Drive Your Talent Streams. How to Build a Revenue Model That Allows the Agency to Scale Its Talent, Expertise, and Intellectual Capital

Tim Williams, Founding Partner, Ignition Consulting Group (US)

Ignition Consulting Group

The agencies winning the battle for talent aren’t necessarily the ones with the best reputations but rather those with the most innovative business (revenue) models. The high-profile defectors haven’t jumped from one traditional agency to another, but from agency to technology company; agency to media company; agency to consultancy. The most talented people in the business aren’t just leaving your agency, many are leaving the agency business.

Resignations have been fuelled by factors that are now very familiar to most agency leaders – the pandemic, the economy, and the need for flexibility. But these are largely temporary dynamics that will eventually turn themselves around. The central cause of the problem – the key driver — is the agency business model itself.

More specifically, agencies are lacking a revenue model. Whereas most other modern businesses have a dynamic, multi-faceted pricing structure, many agencies simply have a schedule of hourly rates. They have a self-limiting inventory of hours they sell to their clients, which places a self-imposed ceiling on both income and profits.

In this compelling presentation, Tim Williams of Ignition Consulting Group shows how agencies can replace their current cost-driven compensation approach with an actual revenue model; a variety of ways they can price their services based on the value they create rather than the costs they incur.


Think Tank 1: Attracting and Retaining Talent, and Enhancing Culture, Mindset and Leadership to Drive Better Business Development, CX, Implementation and Collaboration

Session details TBC

Think Tank 2: Scaling, Diversifying, and Repositioning Your Agency for Maximum Growth

Session details TBC

Think Tank 3: What Clients Want and Expect, Including Closer Agency and Client Collaboration. Workshopping What an Effective Brief Looks Like

Session details TBC

Think Tank 4

Session details TBC


Panel: The Future of Agencies – Scaling, Diversifying, and Repositioning Your Agency

Julia Vargiu, Founder, New Business Methodology
Jack Watts, Global CEO, Bastion
Imogen Hewitt, ANZ CEO, Spark Foundry
Luke Brown, Managing Director, AFFINITY

Julia VargiuJack WattsImogen HewittLuke Brown
New Business Methodology, Jack Watts, Imogen Hewitt, Luke Brown

Australia has a thriving market for growing and independent media and creative agencies. What have hyper-growth agencies done differently? Growing pains are inevitable (especially in a tight labour market), so what strategies have these agencies used to grow, whilst maintaining their customer experience?

This panel will bring together specific agencies to share how they have diversified into creative, CX, digital transformation services, or who have returned/ repositioned their agency to a full-service model.

They’ll share and discuss some of their diversification strategies, varied remuneration models, repositioning their agency as consultants and innovative ideators vs tactical media buyers, acquisition of other agencies, and how they have recruited in a tight labour market (to enable their scaling).


Closing Comments


Networking Lunch & Close of Symposium

Sponsored by Criteo