Member Q&A Series: Spotlight on Talent

On June 03, 2021 Research & Resources

It is no secret that the last 12-18 months has been tough on the media industry both from an individual and company-wide perspective. A shortage of talent and changes in work flexibility, personal development and career paths have all been experienced in one way or another across our industry. We wanted to chat to a range of experts on their current experiences and any advice they can offer for those who are either at a crossroads or are looking to come into Digital Advertising.


Lachlan McDivitt, Senior Director: Trading AUNZ, The Trade Desk

Talk us through the current talent problems you are facing in either your workplace or that you can see in the industry specifically? How do you think we can best address these?

The global pandemic has only served to exaggerate and accelerate the impact of a known fact. That hiring, developing and retaining programmatic Traders is really difficult. Hiring managers are looking for a niche skill set in a talent pool that isn’t fed by public awareness and rarely referenced in higher education. At The Trade Desk we narrow the talent pool even further with a policy of never hiring from our clients. Add closed international borders to the mix and our industry is fast approaching a breaking point.

A short-term fix is to look offshore. However, this poses an existential threat. Where the art of Trading is commoditised and lost from our market altogether. We need to create pathways for new talent to enter our industry and look for creative ways to retain and upskill existing people in the industry. Linear planning teams today have a deep knowledge of brands, audiences, analytics and marketing fundamentals that are directly transferable into Trading.  

Once on the job the challenge shifts to recognising the full potential of opportunities a media buying role offers. Too frequently Traders are spending time shifting budgets, pacing and troubleshooting. Activation teams must go faster at automating processes to converge with Planning. Invest in technology that automates menial tasks and frees up time for people to do meaningful work. Automate the flow of data between internal systems to remove friction and errors. And connect your internal systems with the external such as a DSP. 

With time alleviated, Traders can fulfill their potential in data storytelling, consulting in data strategy, creating hypothesis and testing with machine learning. As all media becomes digital and all digital becomes programmatic there will be a convergence in Planning and Trading and there is no reason to delay the education across all functions. The future of Trading does not involve campaign pacing and that day is not far away. It’s important we show the path and give people the time back to use their talents. 


Peter Barry, Regional Director, ANZ and Head of Audience, APAC, PubMatic

For new people entering the industry what piece of advice would you give them? 

Take time out of your busy day to learn, and try to make that a long term habit.  Read articles, go to events (online and offline), ensure the company you join has a solid on-boarding and training process.  I have been with PubMatic for over five years now and am learning as much every day as I was when I started.

It is very important to seek out information on key industry topics and, just as important, to form an opinion on what those mean to you, your business and the wider industry.

Also within the area of learning and development, any new entrant to our industry should reach out to the IAB about their Mentorship Program. It’s a fantastic, free resource that gives them access to some of the most seasoned folks in our industry.


Gai Le Roy, CEO, IAB Australia

What are the biggest opportunities in Digital Advertising right now?

Right now there is incredible demand for a wide range of jobs for people with any digital experience but particularly for programmatic advertising, performance marketing, e-commerce and analytics roles. Two other areas where new roles will continue to emerge over the coming years are for people with a strong knowledge of both data and privacy as well as data specialists with a solid understanding of ad effectiveness modelling and research.

For new people entering the industry what piece of advice would you give them?

I have never seen a better time for people to enter the industry – companies are competing for new talent and providing brilliant opportunities in a market that is invigorated after a few years of a softer market. I would break down my recommendations into four main buckets.

Connections – Spend time on making new contacts but more importantly deepening your existing connections. The people you work with early in your career will provide you with an incredibly strong support base and a trusted advisory group throughout your career – do not underestimate making time to get to know the people you work with both in a professional and a social sense. 

Comprehension – Read, watch and listen to as much broad industry information as you can along with any materials specifically related to your role or the role you are trying to obtain. I know it is often hard to find the time but you will be surprised how external ideas and industry news will actually make you more motivated and efficient. 

Cross functional – Learn as much as you can about other roles in your organisation or ideal organisation. One of the most common frustrations I hear from people in junior roles is the siloed nature of their role. The more you can understand about other functions the more likely you are to get promoted or to interview well for new jobs.                                                  

Commercial – Following on from the previous point the absolutely most killer skill is to understand the economics of your business and your client’s businesses. Even if you are not looking to go into a commercial role understanding what drives profit (not just revenue) and growth will help make you an invaluable employee.


Richard O’Sullivan, Vice President AUNZ, InMobi

Talk us through the current talent problems you are facing in either your workplace or that you can see in the industry specifically? How do you think we can best address these?

The pace of growth in the media, marketing & tech space for InMobi has been on an acceleration curve that has been exacerbated since the start of the pandemic as people have sheltered at home and which resulted in significant growth on consumption of media on mobile specifically i.e. gaming, streaming & e/mcommerce. Therefore this growth has caused a gap/ delay in talent acquisition based on the new skills we’re requiring. Secondly, the marketplace for matching demand + supply for talent is inefficient, disconnected fragmented currently which can inhibit the best fit for both parites. This may in part be due to ther fact that our industry is so diverse in terms of roles/ skills etc and heavy reliance on personal connections. The responsibility to resolve this is with each stakeholder in the industry however there is need to coalesce around/ with a central entity to address new entrants, mid-career changes and talent matching for growth in the industry to avoid people exiting.

Interesting fact is that when it comes to retention this is not an area InMobi has had problems, with average tenure of 3-years globally and a factor of the talent, growth programmes we have internally. Additionally, our introduction of Peakon to monitor sentiment across the business and drive continuous innovation in this space during the pandemic has been important tool for leaders to understand anonymous feedback from employees. I believe a strong focus across the globe has been to support teams on mental stability given the level of instability and unpredictability in the external environment.

Some of our initiatives in InMobi Cares in terms of counselling, mental wellness sessions for employees, prep for managers to be confidants, regular updates, Leader Q&As and extension of insurance & leaves has been towards supporting people in these areas. This also comes from our culture of supporting our people through thick and thin, and keeping an open mind to understand what will help.

Looking forward 5 years, which areas of the industry do you think will grow substantially?

When I entered the media industry in the early noughties back in London I was at the Daily Mirror at Canary Wharf. Everyone’s qualifications were different with some having studied medicine, law, sociology, history and yet we were now at the same company, same team, similar roles. As media subsequently fragmented with the proliferation of digital, data, programmatic, data science etc. people’s careers either accelerated, stalled, or resulted in an exit from the industry. The pace of change in the media, marketing & technology space has been unrelenting ever since with change the only constant. 

Therefore, to look forward 5-years into the future would be to look at potentially a post 4th industrial revolution world where new technologies are fusing the physical, digital & biological worlds (Schwab, 2016) and powered by 5G. The combination of these exponential emerging technologies like IoT, AI, 5G will drive accelerated innovation in companies and bring about greater focus on operations, product and the customer. The pandemic growth experienced by Streaming, Gaming & ecommerce (including D2C) was only possible because they’re platforms and hence scalable in their current form … but when 5G speeds combined with AI informing program/ game/ product discovery and learning from the 1st party data produced then improvement & innovation cycles will shorten.

Therefore, in applying this to the media industry companies will need to be versatile and adaptable in what will be a volatile environment and they’ll grow through innovation and acquisition. The roles that will experience growth in potential will include; engineering, data sciences, operational + product roles and people in the marketing, media & tech industries will need to constantly develop new skills to be a marketing consultant, fluent across all buying channels, more technical than ever, and that can still foster quality relationships that require strong analytical & numerical skills (O’Leary, boostr).


At the IAB Digital Ad Ops Conference on June 24th 2021, we will be covering this topic in further detail with our Female AdTech Leaders Session focusing on Changing the Conversation to enable Change. For more details on this event, check it out here!