Following a period of strong new business growth and creative expansion, VMLY&R Melbourne has bolstered its leadership team with several senior hires. Highly regarded leaders Sarah Bailey and Jon Kenyon have been appointed to the newly created roles of managing partner, with Kenneth Chan also joining the team as strategy director.
The move follows the agency’s appointment to the coveted Defence Force Recruiting (DFR) account earlier this year, in addition to a raft of other new business wins. Creatively, the agency has also continued to receive high industry recognition, including a top three gong in the 2019 Creative Agency Hot List.
VMLY&R chief executive officer Aden Hepburn said this ongoing success had been a major factor in boosting the Melbourne agency’s senior ranks. He said the hires would add significant grunt to the already established team, widely recognised as one of the strongest in the local market.
Adan said: “We have built strong momentum post-merger delivering excellent growth and delivering on our plan to be a significant force in the Australian market. As we continue into 2019, our goal is to keep growing. To do this, we needed to find the best local talent.
“We believe we’ve found that in Sarah, Jon and Kenneth, who are highly regarded leaders within our industry and bring a wealth of diversified experience to the agency,” he continued. “It’s a big coup for us to have a leadership team with their creativity and smarts and leadership skills join our business at this exciting and transformational time.”
Sarah and Jon will report directly to Aden, leading the agency with ECD Jake Barrow. In addition to their MP responsibilities, Jake takes on leadership of the significant DFR account, one of the agency’s largest recent new business wins. Jon will continue to lead production and build Melbourne’s platform and CX capabilities across DFR and the agency’s broader client roster.
A 15-year veteran of the industry Sarah previously held roles as managing partner at DDB and head of business management at Ogilvy where she earned her stripes leading teams on integrated accounts such as ANZ, Telstra, AAMI, BP and Open Universities Australia. She said of her appointment: “I love the combination of rich advertising heritage, cutting-edge technology and genuine innovation - it forms a truly modern agency proposition. You can feel the momentum in the way everyone here is working together, there is such an abundance of talent and so much potential. It was a no brainer to get on board and enjoy what is clearly going to be a great ride.”
Jon has been a key senior leader at VML for several years running the agency’s largest transformation and innovation pieces of work including Australian Open, Charter Hall, McDonald’s, Think Conveyancing and Rip Curl. Previously Jon spent time at agencies such as Isobar, Big Red and working client side with Fox Sports, leading innovative digital and integrated teams and delivering world class work. He said: “I’m super excited and thrilled to be a part of the next evolution of this agency, as we hit the remainder of 2019 full of momentum. Our now expanded and unique offering allows us to continue to push the creative boundaries and transform our clients’ businesses. The diverse wealth of talent in the building is truly inspiring and I am very excited to be on this journey.”
A leading strategist with a strong background in copywriting, journalism and management consulting across traditional advertising and digital experience, newly appointed strategy director Kenneth Chan brings a unique perspective and new way of thinking to Melbourne. Kenneth will lead Melbourne’s strategy offering for all things non-DFR, plus supporting current work and championing new opportunities with existing and new clients
Sarah, Jon and Kenneth’s appointments follow the hire of Katherine Chen who joined VMLY&R Melbourne in late 2018 as client services director with a remit to lead VMLY&R’s new brand experience offering.
Says Jake: “The agency is on an incredible roll right now and the addition of Sarah, Jon, Ken and Kath is another highlight. They all share the agency’s passion for creativity, are highly ambitious and ready to kick us into overdrive. I couldn’t be happier.”
Photo R to L: Jon Kenyon, Sarah Bailey, Jake Barrow, Katherine Chen, Kenneth Chan.