Aimee Buchanan on OMD’s flexibility focus, and why she won’t walk away from the CEO role lightly

OMD has started 2021 much as it ended 2020, in a position of strength, and with a continuing string of key account wins.

Since the beginning of the year, the agency has celebrated account wins for the Victorian Government, and more recently Canva, as it strengthens its position as a leading agency in Australia.

Speaking with Mumbrella for this week’s episode of the Mumbrellacast, CEO Aimee Buchanan talks about the challenges of managing offices in three cities. Most recently, that has included Melbourne staff being in lockdown when work was due to officially start on the Victorian Government account.

“We came off Christmas a little bit exhausted, like most of the industry, and straight into the final throws of the Vic Gov pitch, which we closed out in February. We’ve been on a big transition bringing that in.

“It officially started last week, the first day we went into lockdown in Victoria.”

Buchanan says the agency won’t be looking at new business in Melbourne, to prioritise the Victorian Government’s master account, worth $100 million, as well as existing clients.

Significantly, OMD won’t be pitching out of Victoria for the next year. “Our focus has been on sustainable growth, and that’s led us to big wins, but we’re not pitching out of Victoria for the next 12 months,” Buchanan reveals.

“Our focus is bedding in the Vic Government account, and delivering on our commitments to our existing clients… and [to] have them saying ‘they said they would do this and they’ve followed through’.”

Buchanan speaks about agility and the need to repurpose staff between key accounts during 2020, something that has continued with the Victorian Government account coming on board, with some staff moving across the internationally dormant Qantas account to other areas of the business.

“[Last year] we needed to consolidate resources where we needed it, in other parts of the business where we knew we were going to be very busy. The likes of Coles, Telstra, Suncorp, a lot of work happening. So we redeployed about 20 people in March last year, we also had a couple of big wins across the group with, Johnson & Johnson and a few others.

“We’ve continued to keep that agility at the moment. We’ve got six or seven people out of Sydney helping the Vic Gov team. We’ve got people out of Brisbane helping the Vic Gov team.

“There are 600 OMD’ers across the country, so if one team is doing it tough, how are we leaning-in to support that?”

The OMD Australia team

Looking ahead to 2021, there are some ongoing pitches in Sydney and Brisbane for OMD, plus some client retentions to work through in Melbourne for the agency.

“We’ve got a couple of things outstanding in the pipeline, one in Melbourne, a legacy one that we’re still working through, which we’re feeling good about,” Buchanan teases.

“And there’s a couple in Brizzy that we’re working through. Melbourne’s off the cards for new business.”

So what does the future hold for Buchanan? She follows a line of successful leaders at the agency, and even though there are a few roles for media agency CEOs in market, she says it would take something significant to pry her away from OMD.

“There are plenty of people who have the capability to step in [to the CEO role] one day, there’s no question about that.

“I love this business. I love this role. I won’t walk away from it lightly.”

Listen to the chat in full below (21:25):


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