Sarah James leaves Initiative to become EssenceMediacom’s chief investment officer

After news broke that she had resigned from Initiative as its managing director, EssenceMediacom has announced that Sarah James is taking on the chief investment officer (CIO) role at the GroupM-owned agency.

James’ appointment is backed by more than 15 years’ of experience in the media industry, having worked at Dentsu Aegis Network’s Woolworths agency, Carat Australia, in digital leadership roles. The long-time media expert has also worked overseas in MediaCom’s New York office.

In her new gig, James will collaborate with GroupM’s CIO, Melissa Hey, to manage a client portfolio valued “close to $1 bn in client media spend”.

At the same time, she’ll helm “EssenceMediacom’s Media Solutions and Investment across Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane”. With a particular focus on “media excellence across all channels” and crafting/executing strategies that offer results for clients, James is expected to bolster innovation and develop impactful relationships with media partners.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining EssenceMediacom. The opportunities within media investment have never been greater, with innovation, precision media and emerging tech allowing us to deliver truly exceptional value for clients,” James said.

Sarah James

“I’m incredibly excited to work alongside Pippa [Berlocher – EssenceMediacom’s chief executive officer] and the entire team, leveraging their expertise and our collective passion to drive impactful results. I can’t wait to get started.”

When asked about James appointment, Hey expressed her excitement at having James’ expertise on board.

She said: “Sarah is an exceptional talent in media. She brings a unique and dynamic skillset to the role in EssenceMediacom, that goes beyond what you might expect from a traditional chief investment officer. I’m excited for her to join our team.”

Berlocher agreed, crediting James’ vision and enthusiasm for media as an asset for the agency moving forward.

“We are thrilled to welcome Sarah to the family. Sarah’s background speaks for itself. She’s a dynamic, people-first leader, who gets the digital, tech and data space and I have no doubt she’ll lead our Media Solutions and Investment team with vision, passion and care,” Berlocher said.

“Transformation excites her and her strong digital background makes her phenomenally well placed to lead, helping our clients breakthrough in the digital age. Sarah’s deep understanding of the evolving media landscape, coupled with her proven leadership skills, make her the ideal candidate to lead our investment team into the future.”


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