First Mover: Cynthia Augustine

Draftfcb's new global chief talent officer on attracting—and retaining—top creatives

Coming from Scholastic do you have much in the way of agency experience?

I don't. Before Scholastic I was at Time Warner. Before that I was at The New York Times, where I also ran a broadcast division besides the HR. I have a lot of experience on the other side. I went to the upfronts and worked with the advertising and marketing people there. You know, throughout my career I have worked in industries that have advertising. Scholastic would be one of the exceptions, but I think the other vein that has run through that is working with a lot of creative people.

Has there been much of a learning curve since you've been there?

I would say a little, but a lot of it feels very familiar.

What are you looking for in talent when it comes to Draftfcb?

We are looking for people who can create an idea that builds a business and builds a brand. We look for someone who understands all the different communication channels and can use them in an integrated way. I think we really are about contemporary culture, so somebody who likes that and can understand it and reflect that back to programs that build brands, build businesses, but connect to what matters. People need to be collaborative, I think, in all creative fields, in all divisions.

How do you compete with Google or Facebook who are tapping into that creative culture in a new way?

I would agree 100 percent we are now beginning to draw from the same talent pool of the Googles and Facebooks. Just as competitive with them are the smaller shops and sometimes even more competitive, because you get a better experience or a different kind of experience because they are still small. I think the difference is when you come to a place like ours you are building a whole platform and building a brand. I believe that's not what really happens with a Google and Facebook.

How do you keep them there?

That's a good question. No matter where you are, whether you are in the entertainment industry, keeping creative people fresh and engaged is important everywhere. I think here, what is engaging about the environment is that it is collaborative. People at a relatively young age can come in and make a difference here by creating a great idea and being able to push it through the organization. We have a thing we call a creative or strategic rumble: we bring people together, they can work on different brands, across industries. But it's everybody's struggle to make sure they keep the employees engaged.

Do you have a favorite ad or campaign?

Maybe because I'm a mom who traveled a lot when my kids were young, the Oreo Skype commercial, where the father and the son are dipping their Oreo cookies together and one is in the morning and the other is in the night. That struck home for me because I have had those moments when I'm on the phone with my kids with many, many hours difference and it would have been nice to see their faces.

What else is important, what are you thinking about?

It is enormously important to ensure that we have people with various viewpoints and experiences around the table. Contemporary culture is being made up of a lot of different demographic groups, a lot of different ages, a lot of different people in our country, a lot of different tastes, and we want to make sure we know what that is.