The Drum Awards for Agency Business celebrates the agencies that excel through strong workplace culture, effective management and excellent performance. From strong leadership to the vital business elements often overlooked by other awards, the many factors that contribute to the success of these top agencies are an inspiration to the wider industry.
This year’s awards are presented with the support of The Drum’s headline partner, Scoro. Scoro’s work management software helps agencies, consultancies and professional service firms streamline projects, simplify quoting, automate billing, and optimize utilization.
Here, some of this year’s judges share what they look for in a winning entry, and their thoughts on the importance of the awards altogether. You can find out more about the full jury on the website.
chief financial officer
Dynamic senior executive with significant leadership experience across operations, strategy, finance and technology Proven leader during a career built on transforming functions across both large public and private corporations as well as nimble, founder-led organizations and private-equity-backed companies. Compelling communication and interpersonal skills, which have proven effective in setting a vision and leading organizations through complex operational, systemic and cultural changes. Successful in raising capital in both public and private debt and equity markets. Governance experience, including roles as director and treasurer on both corporate and non-profit boards, oversight of large multi-national SEC reporting organizations and member of a corporate audit committee.
I’m really looking forward to this year’s awards process, and love that The Drum is choosing to honor what I consider to be the most important part of any successful business. We are in a war for talent, and the future of business depends on our ability to attract and retain the best, most innovative people. Companies may have vastly different strategies for that, and I’m convinced that those who effectively deliver on these strategies will win that war. I’m looking for companies that clearly articulate their vision for teams and culture; how they have and will continue to execute it.
Karen leads the Sydney operations for global marketing communications agency, Archetype. She also serves as a member of the APAC Regional Management Board for the agency where she leads the productisation of services and is spearheading the agency’s growth strategy with a focus on M&As. Her passion for innovation and change has led her to launch Region-wide people initiatives such as equal parental leave terms, new value-based pricing structures and sustainability programs. As a result, she was recently named on Campaign Asia-Pacific’s ’40 Under 40 List’ for 2020 which recognises top-tier talent transforming Asia-Pacific media and marcomms.
I have a huge appetite for innovation and change and I really enjoy analysing what successful businesses are doing differently across the world. We’re all going through the same disruption as an industry and those that are succeeding are embracing this change with gusto and passion. With agency consolidation, remote workforces and constantly evolving marketing services, I’m super interested in seeing what the best of the best are doing to keep this industry fresh and dynamic. I’ll be looking out for agencies that are creatively addressing business challenges, taking some risks, creating new products and services to meet market demands and pushing our industry forward along the way!
chief creative officer & founding partner
Founded in 2007, BrandOpus specialises in all aspects of brand including strategy, identity and design. Before co-founding BrandOpus, Paul was the senior design director at JKR. Paul is responsible for the overall creative output across the London, New York, Chicago and Melbourne studios and works across a diverse portfolio of brands including Britvic, McCain, Molson Coors, Kraft Heinz, UNHCR and First Direct. His work has been recognised by The Design Business Association, D&AD, Pentawards, PAC Leadership, The Drum and FAB Awards.
As an industry we’re brilliant at celebrating creative excellence but all of the magic that goes on behind the scenes can often go unnoticed. A lot of hard work (from all departments) goes into the running of a successful agency so it’s essential we acknowledge that. I’m excited to celebrate and be inspired by the changemakers who are driving our industry forward.
Wunderman Thompson UK
With over 15 years’ experience at agencies including Engine, Mother and TBWA, Natalie is an integrated leader with a track record of building brands across a breadth of industries and markets, whilst establishing integration between ‘brand’ and ‘customer communications’ to build truly relevant and effective brand experiences for customers. Natalie is the co-founder of Wunderman Thompson’s 200 strong women’s network; Rise and a member of the leadership team with a focus on growth.
The best agencies are a well balanced ecosystem that works together to foster brilliant work. Without care and respect for every element of that ecosystem you might hang off the coat tails of one lucky idea for a while but will never truly succeed in the long run. That’s why I think it’s important to recognise those agencies who are working as a unit to achieve great things with this award. I’m looking for collaboration, fresh innovative ways of doing things that are achieving positive progress.
global chief marketing officer
As a part of the executive leadership team, she drives consistency in brand strategy, leads a dynamic and connected culture, and ensures client service team connectivity, as well as discipline integration among the VMLY&R network offices. Before the establishment of VMLY&R, Beth worked at VML for 15 years, including her time in a previous role of chief client officer. As chief client officer, she worked alongside each department lead on agency service offering evolution and company growth and achieved impressive results on the behalf of VML’s client base. In addition to her role as VMLY&R’s global CMO, Beth is extremely passionate about giving back to her community and helping mould the next generation of female leaders. To that end, she serves on the board of the BMA Foundation and is a founding member and proud supporter of Women@VML.
Being an outstanding creative agency is not only about driving business momentum, but also about building engagement and connectivity at all levels of the organization. These awards are powerful in that they celebrate the culture and values foundations on which innovative ideas emerge and great experiences are built. After what has been one of the most disruptive years in our lives, we look forward to seeing the resilience and breadth of innovation born from across the industry.
Chief executive officer
Dani is responsible for further developing and executing the agency’s strategic vision to build connected experiences and to raise its creative output. With more than 20 years’ agency experience, Bassil joined Digitas from J Walter Thompson London where she was a Managing Partner for nearly three years. Prior to that she held senior roles at Possible and Grey. She started her career in Sydney, where she grew up, at Ogilvy and Mather, before moving to the UK 15 years ago, working at agencies like Wieden and Kennedy and VCCP. Dani has worked on some big accounts during her career, such as Shell, HSBC and Johnson & Johnson.
It’s an honour to be judging the crème de la crème of agency teams and their strategic work in our industry, especially following the year we’ve just had. I find being a judge really rewarding, not only to see what brilliant work is out there, but also to inspire me for months to come. This year, we’ll be looking for those agency teams that really hauled together and defied the odds of being physically apart to produce some incredible, ground-breaking campaigns that have shifted the dial for their clients.
Sherry (Sherzad) Rahmatian is a Managing Director at SYLVAIN. Based in Amsterdam, though a California native, she leads SYLVAIN’s business growth across Europe. Sherry has built her career client-side in the tech industry, most recently with Uber where she led marketing strategy across Europe, Middle East and Africa. At SYLVAIN, she leads key clients including Nike, Uber, WhatsApp and Spotify. Coupled with her background in psychology and a passion for global cultures, Sherry brings a wealth of knowledge on agile thinking, experimentation and fast-growing brands from the tech industry.
At Sylvain, we aim to provoke progress for people, for business, and for society at large. The Drum Awards for Agency Business is a moment to recognize the work we’re all doing, particularly those who share these standards. So that’s what I’m really looking for in a winning entry – those agencies that demonstrate a sense of responsibility to steward meaningful progress through the work they do for influential brands and companies.
chief executive officer
Emma has over 25 years of experience advising emerging and global companies on how to utilise data, technology and insights to transform and future-proof their businesses. With a strong track record in delivering result-driven, customer-centred projects, She has worked with market leading companies including E.ON, Santander, P&O, eBay, and Tesco and led the consulting team at the heart of Argos’ digital transformation for 5 years. In addition to consultancy experience, Emma has also worked brand-side for BT, and as Head of eCommerce focused on customer experience (CX) and multi-channel strategies. Emma is passionate about championing diversity and inclusion, especially within the data and technology industry, and is executive sponsor of ENGINE’s Inclusion Programme, as well as supporting other organisations including CodeFirst: Girls.
Judging is always an energising and inspiring experience. It is really exciting to lift my head from the day job to see the amazing work being done in the wider market, and the astounding quality of ideas and talent – from operations to innovation. Often our work is judged through the lens of clients and brands, it is great to be able to celebrate the agencies and consultancies that sit behind or alongside those clients. I am also particularly passionate about the awards recognising the talent that delivers behind the scenes – finance, operations, HR, business development and more. None of our businesses would exist without the teams that power us.
I am looking for entries that go above and beyond business as usual. I really value honesty in an entry – it is too easy to focus on the relentless upbeat and positive outcomes, but often the most meaningful stories are the ones where challenge has been overcome in order to get there.
founder and director
Dutch born Marc graduated from the University of Leiden with a degree in Media Law. He then went around the world working in Hong Kong, New York and San Francisco. He was offered a position in Tokyo, where as part of his contract he needed to attend an 18-month course in Japanese language, culture, politics and economics. In 2007 Marc took the brave decision to set up UltraSuperNew in Tokyo with the maverick approach of servicing clients with digital strategy, creative and production all under one roof – an ultra super new way of doing things in Tokyo at the time. The Singapore agency was subsequently opened in 2012 and most recently in Taiwan in 2019. The agency has grown from strength to strength with an international team of over 60 people working on campaigns for Uber Eats, Shiseido, Red Bull, Unilever, Heineken, MINI, Pernod Ricard, Skyn condoms, ASICS, Adobe, EA-sports, PUMA, PayPal and Tabasco.
I became a judge because; why not? If I can in a way contribute to stimulate creativity I will do so. It is also good to get inspiration and talk to others why they think work is good or bad. These awards are important because they help raise the level of creativity, and reward people for their hard work. I’m looking for entries that put a smile on my face, or trigger any kind of emotion!
With extensive experience in brand transformation, Angela is a passionate believer in the power of insight and ideas, to challenge beliefs, provoke social change, and re-imagine business. She believes the best ideas always get the most attention and prioritises creativity above all else. While specialising in marketing and brands, Angela facilitates broader business strategy and development for organisations that are at a point of change.
Judging awards is like cramming for an exam – a moment of intensity where you learn a lot about what’s going on in the world around you in a super short period of time. It can leave you a little breathless, in awe of the people and ideas that are out there doing extraordinary things. The Drum Agency Business Awards is such a great category. In an industry where our focus is on our clients business, it’s an opportunity for agencies to showcase their own strategies and the results they’re achieving. In an entry, I love a good read – a narrative with both clarity and colour – and a storyline that’s cohesive.
Christine Moore joins FirmDecisions with over 20 years’ of agency and in-house experience in commercially driven roles. Her global knowledge is complemented by an in-depth understanding of the US market and an extensive marketing procurement background. Moore has also served in CFO and COO roles across the agency business. Moore has held roles at the likes of PepsiCo Inc., Interpublic, Dentsu International, MDC Partners and WPP during her career.
I firmly believe in combining the magic and the science and feel like the agency business awards bring it together. A creative mind is as important as good business sense, the drive for excellence and delivering to clients on both great creative work but also on an operational and transparent level is key to success in any business – and especially the agency business! It’s important to celebrate success all around the agency. There are many factors to success and one can’t win without the others long term. These awards allow the agency to come together, and win together, and celebrate collectively.