Video: Catherine Sullivan and Transitional Learning

By Jack Myers Leadership Conversations Archives
Cover image for  article: Video: Catherine Sullivan and Transitional Learning

Spending years on the media side of the business has given Catherine Sullivan a powerful lens on the negotiating side of the agency table, where she's sat for Omnicom Media Group for the past two and a half years.  Having recently risen to the role of Chief Investment Officer for North America, she was happy to discuss both the learning curve and her insights with MediaVillage's Jack Myers in a Legends & Leaders discussion.

After her years with ABC News and NBCU, Sullivan had become accustomed to her colleagues all working towards the same monetization goal.  But upon shifting to the agency side, especially at a company like Omnicom with multiple agencies, "each client has a different perspective ... and different objectives," she says.  "It's harder to get everyone to rally around ... certain principles and some guardrails that we put up to make the most effective buys on behalf of our clients."  However, her work within Omnicom isn't all herding cats.  "The business is really just a big jigsaw puzzle," she acknowledges.  "It just depends which side of the table you're on."  To learn more about how Catherine views the complexities of the industry, click here.

Working within an agency means having to adopt a proactive approach to working with brands and project managers.  It's breaking through the chaos and providing transparency to every client.  Sullivan has taken on the mantle of acting as not only a strategy mastermind but as a partner to the companies she works with.  Her mission is straightforward.  "Clients are looking for us, as agencies, to be their agents, to be their strategy partner, to be their person who's actually helping solve some of these issues and giving them some clear swim lanes about what we're trying to do," she says.  Click here to learn more about Catherine's proactive approach to working within an agency.

Among her many goals for the future of Omnicom, Sullivan wants to set a higher bar; she aims to shatter the negative perceptions that once went with the agencies of yesterday and really establish partnerships with her clients.  She is positive that her company's goals are well within reach.  "We don't have just great marketers -- we have the number one market earner in each and every category that exists and when you keep that kind of company that also speaks to who we are within Omnicom," she says.

Watch Jack Myers full Legends & Leaders interview with Catherine Sullivan.  Click here for the video and learn about her transition into the agency world, her plans for the future of Omnicom Media Group and her thoughts about uniting their clients around a common principle.  Also:

  • How Sullivan is managing competing against consultation companies working at a more senior level;
  • The benefits and imperative of proactively communicating with diverse communities for getting potential employees excited about the prospect of working with Omnicom;
  • Whether Sullivan is on board as the Upfronts move towards using metrics besides the Nielsen ratings.  Hint: "We just can't keep doing what we've been doing ..."

Hayley Virgil contributed to this article.

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