Kieran Moore’s Guide to Leading the Agency of the Future

Kieran Moore’s Guide to Leading the Agency of the Future
November 5, 2015 Kieran Moore

Ahead of the Mumbrella Future Leaders Program, mentor Kieran Moore shares her thoughts on leading the agency of today… and tomorrow.

What skills and qualities do you need to lead a modern-day agency?

A really good leader needs courage, compassion and connections. Along with humility, empathy and kindness, which I’ve got to say I think are particularly strong traits in women. We also need to inject a bit of humour into an industry guilty of taking itself too seriously.

My top five required skills are:

  • Honesty – the foundation of all relationships
  • Partnership – collaboration is the only way to be truly successful
  • Don’t say or believe that you can do everything – know your strengths and weaknesses and support yourself with people who support you in the areas you are not as strong (and rely on other people and disciplines to fill the gaps)
  • Follow your gut – if it feels wrong, it normally is
  • Do what you say you will do – every time and on time. Woody Allen has a quote: “The world is run by people who turn up”.  I live by this, as turning up means not just physically but also intellectually and emotionally.

What challenges does the agency leader of the future face in the modern marketing world?

The rate of change has never been faster and the biggest challenge is keeping up with technological change and its impact on products, services, customers, stakeholders and, of course, marketing and communications.

Competition can come from anywhere – creative, digital and social agencies are all part of the same game now so being able to gather the  expertise in order to morph and extend my agency’s offering is something that keeps me awake at night.

Finally, it’s talent. It’s harder and harder to find great people. Tied to the issue of competition, the war for talent is fierce. It’s also harder and harder to retain good people as marketing and communications professionals who are keen to earn their stripes jump from place to place faster than ever.

We spend a lot of time and money on our attraction and retention programs and on making this a happy and professionally challenging place to work. I can’t see the market for talent changing anytime soon.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from a mentor?

Australian business woman Wendy McCarthy is my first and only mentor. I’m a generation younger than her and must admit that she has always been, and remains, something of an idol of mine. A fierce fighter on many issues, particularly those affecting women, she was a role model for young women like me growing up in a world which we realised was run by men, and which we realised people like Wendy were trying to change.

Now she is my mentor and we sit and chat about various issues I might have come across in my business life. Her wise counsel has invariably enabled me to see a way through many seemingly impenetrable problems. I have learned an extraordinary amount from Wendy: She has taught me to understand negotiation, to not always have to be right and that listening is a key communication skill. She has also taught me to be a problem solver and how to be creative, determined and collaborative. I hope that I’m passing a few of those characteristics down the line.

In short, the message is to be true to yourself, only worry about peoples’ opinions if you respect them and stop apologising (women are terrible at that!).

Kieran Moore is the CEO, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and
Regional talent director, Ogilvy PR Asia-Pacific. She is also one of the mentors taking part in the Mumbrella Future Leaders Program, November 25-27, Sydney.