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5 Minutes With… Jodie Sangster


The CEO of ADMA discusses Creative Fuel, the industry’s current skills shortage, and the opportunities and challenges facing marketers today

5 Minutes With… Jodie Sangster

Jodie Sangster is the CEO of the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA), and the Association for Analytics Professionals of Australia (IAPA).

As CEO of ADMA, she works to educate, promote and protect responsible marketers. During her time at ADMA she has developed several creative-oriented initiatives such as research, a Creative School in Sydney and Melbourne for aspiring copywriters and art directors, and Creative Fuel, an annual event that features discussion with some of the world’s most inspired minds about advertising, art, film-making, content production, social media and what delivers the best creative thinking.

Jodie’s extensive experience in the fields of global data-driven marketing and advertising spans over 17 years and includes experience throughout the US, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

She also chairs the GlobalDMA, a consortium of 27 marketing associations around the world with a mandate to advance and champion responsible global marketing.

Here she takes some time out of her busy schedule to catch up with the LBB team.

LBB> The biggest opportunities and challenges coming to the industry in the next 12-24 months?

Jodie Sangster> Interestingly, the opportunities and the challenges are one and the same!

The biggest opportunities lie in your organisation implementing five pillars for success: data, digital, content, creativity and technology. You need to bring these pillars together to underpin the common purpose of delivering a great customer experience. These pillars will help you engage, become more relevant, and deliver more efficiency to your operations. But you need to get them right.

And therein lie your challenges: you need the right skill sets on your team to pull it off across each pillar. In addition, each area currently has a skills shortage, so the industry needs to address that.

LBB> There are some talent shortages and skills gaps in the industry. What do you think are the gaps and what can be done about them?

JS> The gaps are in all five areas: data, digital, content, creativity and technology. What is required now is better cross skilling of teams, so companies need to invest more in their people.

One way people can address shortages is to think outside the box; for example, you might have a person on staff with a talent for numbers, maths and analysis who could be trained up as an analytics professional. Or there might be someone in the office who has an amazing flair for writing and creativity – why not give them a shot at writing copy? We have to stop this mentality of always thinking, ‘but that’s not their job.’ Why can’t it be if they’re demonstrating talent and passion? I’ve found that some FMCGs and banks are starting to take this thinking on board and are up-skilling their teams accordingly.

In addition, every educational institution need to come on board to assist. Universities are now making great strides in teaching the pillars, but they don’t move fast enough to keep up with the changes occurring in the rapidly evolving marketing, media and advertising landscape. That’s where a small, non-profit organisation like ADMA can be more nimble: we don’t have all that bureaucracy or hoops to jump through. We can monitor the trends and respond quickly to meet industry needs regarding education. In fact, we’re currently overhauling our education program to ensure it delivers courses across the five pillars and in customer experience. This program will launch later in the year.

LBB> What motivated you to create a Creative School in Sydney and Melbourne for aspiring copywriters and designers?

JS> There aren’t many places for young people or those wanting a career change to undertake practical courses in copywriting and design. In addition, agencies are just so busy nowadays they don’t have time to teach their juniors. They expect them to be able to hit the ground running. This has been happening for several years which was why ADMA decided to offer annual Creative Schools in Sydney and Melbourne in August to meet the demand.

We only hire the best instructors and those who are working in the field so that all the teaching is up to date and forward-thinking.

LBB> ADMA Creative Fuel is coming up on August 6th. Which speakers are you most looking forward to hearing from?

JS> This is a difficult question to answer because there are 10 of them this year and they’re all great in their fields and come from such diverse backgrounds. There’s a digital prophet, a photographer, a street artist, a magician, a creative director for one of the world’s best magazines, etc. I guess if I had to pick three, I’d start with David Shing who is AOL’s digital prophet. He’s very knowledgeable about the latest trends, the future of the web, and the evolving digital landscape. And he also bills himself as an ‘accidental songwriter!’

We also have Andrew Evans, who’s a magician and a product designer from San Francisco presenting at Creative Fuel. His topic is about stealing from magic to inspire better design which is really intriguing, so I’m looking forward to his presentation and seeing a few magic tricks as well!

On the artistic side, there’s Trina Collins, also known as Poncho Army, who’s a brilliant street artist and gallery owner. She’ll be talking about the journey and insights into her work from the introvert’s perspective but there’s a twist: she’s also an extrovert who founded and now runs a successful creative business.

There aren’t a lot of events designed for the creative community and we know they’re keen to attend and support events that are relevant, inspirational and support the future of the industry. Creatives enjoy seeking inspiration from global experts and learning how these very successful people solve their creative challenges.

LBB> How do you go about attracting the likes of AOL’s digital prophet David Shing and Wired’s creative director Billy Sorrentino to Creative Fuel?

JS> It’s about having the right events team in place. Our programmers are very switched-on, passionate people who are great at sussing out the best speakers from around the world. They love what they do and they want to create the best programs for our industry by finding the best global experts 

As for speakers like David and Billy, these fellows are passionate about their work and they love speaking at events. As I mentioned, there aren’t many conferences like Creative Fuel for the creative community and we get a lot of people who are keen to come along and speak for that reason – they get to talk about what they know and do on a daily basis, and meet other creative people from around the world, which they enjoy.

And let’s not forget: most international speakers are delighted to be invited to speak in Australia because it’s one of those places that’s on everyone’s bucket list.

LBB> You began your career as a marketing and advertising lawyer in London specialising in data. How did your start in the field of data law help to leverage your career in marketing and advertising?

JS> My career has actually been pretty varied. I started as a lawyer, went into marketing and advertising, and now I’m in association management. I decided I didn’t want to do straight law because it was a bit dry for me but I was interested in regulation, compliance and responsible marketing. I started as a lawyer specialising in data for the UK Direct Marketing Association, came to Australia where I was regulatory affairs director for ADMA, then went over to Acxiom for a couple of years as their compliance specialist for the Asia-Pacific region.

From there I went to the US Direct Marketing Association in New York City where I spent five years sharing global marketing trends and creating marketing education programs at the global level. I became CEO of ADMA in 2011. Along the way I’ve been privileged to meet so many interesting and creative people who’ve influenced my thinking.

LBB> As a leading figure and CEO of an association, do you have any thoughts on the current gender divide in advertising and marketing?

JS> I often get asked this question as the female CEO of the peak marketing, media and advertising association. This may be a bit controversial, but I don’t see a huge gender divide anymore.  I think our industry is getting more balanced. I see many more women in senior roles now and all the related marketing associations like IAB, AANA and AMI are now led by women.

Yes, women do leave their jobs to have children, but that’s a choice they make and I certainly respect it. I think many organisations are getting better about retaining those women, offering more flexibility, etc. If you talk about engineering and manufacturing industries, then there’s a genuine gender divide, but I’m not seeing it in our industry.

LBB> What kind of insights on responsible global marketing are you exposed to by chairing the GlobalDMA?

JS> As the GlobalDMA’s chair, I liaise with heads of marketing associations from at least 27 countries. I get to see the take-up rates of data-driven marketing activity around the world, the channels different countries are using, and the award-winning work coming out of various countries, etc.

There’s also a lot of different rules around data protection, compliance and privacy – it really varies from country to country and I like to keep abreast of those. I see the advancements made, but also the challenges and limitations.

One of the first things I established when I became GlobalDMA chair last year was a study on data-driven marketing activity around the world. Most of our members now participate in the study and this is really helpful as it lets us see what is happening in each country and how marketers are faring under each set of rules. It also allows us to take the pulse on each country’s optimism or pessimism levels when it comes to marketing budgets and the activity they’re undertaking. In all, it’s a helpful resource for marketing at the global level. 

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LBB Editorial, Tue, 30 Jun 2015 05:12:43 GMT