Churn and early promotions still a concern says MFA CEO, but opportunities lie ahead

After worrying figures released in 2021, the Media Federation of Australia’s CEO, Sophie Madden said the industry is moving in the right direction, with staffing up and churn in decline, yet competition for experienced talent remains fierce.

That last metric, however, continues to be the area of “concern or focus”, according to the body’s CEO, Sophie Madden, with the number still sitting close to 33% across the past year.


Fifteen percent of staff during the year-long census period moved between agencies, and with average agency tenure down to 2.6 years. Madden told this week’s Mumbrellacast that this is a “big indicator of people being promoted too early”.

On the topic of poaching from other agencies, Madden said pressure is always ramped up when you’re working in a small and competitive talent market, particularly when you need to fill a role that requires some level of experience.

“Obviously the more talent out in the market to employ, the reduced pressure that then becomes.”

Madden said some of the positive figures this year are being aided by the MFA’s Career Changes program, which looks to bring in experienced talent from adjacent industies with transferrable skills, and then upskill them for the functional skills needed in media agencies.

“The purpose of that program was to address the fact that where our gaps are is in the more experienced area, not in the new talent and the new grad area.

“I’ve already mentioned that we’ve had a lot of promotions earlier than what we would normally promote people in the past. Those people need to be equipped with the proper management skills to manage teams now, particularly the new skill sets in management in this sort of hybrid way of working, which requires new skills and different ways of dealing with people.”

Added to internal industry churn, 17% left the media agency industry completely. However, there is an opportunity ahead.

Since the census period, which ended in September 2022, major tech companies including Meta, Amazon, Twitter, and Google, companies that have often looked to media agencies to fill desks, have experienced or are currently experiencing high levels of job cuts.

“It’s always challenging and to be honest, a little bit distressing when there’s restructuring and redundancies and people losing their roles. These are our work colleagues, people that we deal with, and friends to many of us. So it’s always distressing.”

But the reality is, Madden said, “we do have vacant roles at agencies and we’re always looking to hire great talent, and we know how talented most of those people are.

“So I’m sure that there are a lot of discussions going on in market at the moment, about whether there are opportunities for them within media agencies and how we can move people across.”

Whether inflated salaries will be an issue in luring that talent back into agencyland, that was a little more of an unknown for Madden.

Listen to the full interview with Sophie Madden on this week’s Mumbrellacast from the


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.