Mechanisms that Matter – What it takes to lead an agency team for the world’s biggest brands

Top of the list: A ‘rabid curiosity’ about the new and an understanding of every role in the marketing mix

Anna Hickey (AH): In this series, I've been talking to WPP leaders about the global models that they've built for our biggest clients across the group. Now, as someone with a view across all those clients, I'm really keen to hear your point of view. So, before we get into it, perhaps you could just tell me a little bit about yourself and your role?

Jane Geraghty (JG): I can indeed. Thank you for having me. I'm Jane Geraghty. I am the Chief Client Officer of WPP. My task primarily is to support our global client leader community in delivering the very best of WPP for all of our major clients.

AH: So, talking to our leaders for Ford and Google and Audible, one thing that's really clear is that there's no template for how we build these networked client teams, but they do all have in common the fact that they work together through WPP Open, our AI powered operating system. So tell me, why do you think it's so important and valuable for everybody to be working together through that common data and technology?

JG: Well, I think there's enormous amounts of benefits to us living in the same ecosystem, using the same operating system. From a brand perspective, I think we have many, many clients that are seeking global admiration, recognition for their brands but also, they need to be locally embraced, loved, and adopted. So having a kind of world view of where the brand sits from a data perspective, from an equity perspective, that makes achieving those two goals so much easier.

I think as we are working much more coherently across borders having a common workspace and having oversight and visibility of all the activities taking place on a single client gives us the opportunity to identify local insights or gems that could be elevated to be bigger global thoughts and vice versa.

I think there's huge amounts of benefit occupying a single workspace where we've got visibility on everything. So new technologies are really transforming the way that we work with clients and helping us to tear down silos, to share data and tools and make year on year efficiencies, which we know is super important.

AH: If you were a global CMO right now, what are the big changes that you would be pushing for in your team and in the agency partnership that you have?

JG: If I sit and I think about that, based on what our clients really want from us today, I think there are two common themes that our key clients are looking for us to support them on. I think the first is about finding new sources of growth and brand differentiation. I think what that requires is imagination and creativity. And I think the second thing that they're looking for is efficiency and speed, that we know that these technologies can provide us. I think if I was a CMO, I would certainly be wanting a partner that can deliver all of that creativity and imagination, but that has the scale, to consolidate those activities that are better delivered to give us efficiencies. So, to me it's about imagination and intelligence at scale. And I would be looking for a partner that can deliver both. And I'm going to go that partner should be WPP, biased as I might be

AH: So, Jane, we both know it takes a rare creature to lead these huge, scaled global partnerships with our clients, that can build that relationship and still focus on the growth and the goals of the client. So just describe to me what it takes to be one of those amazing client leaders that you run in your team day to day.

JG: Well, I know you've spoken to many of them. I think there are a few things. I mean, they're all very different, but there are a few things that I would say they have in common. The first is they're all very experienced leaders and experienced in a broad way. They're all quite T-shaped. It's important, I think, in these roles to understand all the elements of the marketing mix. So I think from a capability standpoint, that's important. I think the second piece that is super important is a sort of rabid curiosity about the new.

We've talked about how rapidly things are changing and I think it's very important that our global client leaders find that rapid change energising and are continuously learning. And then the final piece, I suppose, that they all have in common is a combination of those two. They're very consultative leaders. They can sit next to their clients and help guide them through this rapid period of change. And help make sure that we've aggregated the right combination of capability to solve, for the opportunities and the challenges to hand. So I'd say it's probably those three things. They’re T-shaped, they’re massively curious and they're great consultative partners to our major clients.

AH: Well, Jane, thanks so much. It's great to talk to you.

JG: Thank you for having me.


Anna Hickey

WPP, Wavemaker

published on

13 May 2024



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