First Mover: Yin Woon Rani

New to the operations of a media agency, a former account director talks collaboration

This is your first media agency job. What's the learning curve like?

It's exciting mostly. It's one step to the left and it's not as daunting as I thought. People here are really generous with their time and it's very much a collaboration culture. So after week one, I think I've learned a lot and I have a lot more to learn.

Any surprises in that first week, either positive or negative?

It really exceeded my expectations. It was a long due diligence process on both sides. I was able to meet a large group of people. So I got a sense of the culture, the challenges, the ups and the downs. So I felt I walked in pretty well prepped and that carried through, throughout the week. On the pleasant side, I think it's nice to see the collaborative culture is deep-rooted. But call me in a month and I'll let you know how I'm doing. [Laughs]

You guys just won the ExxonMobil business. How is that going to affect you next month or in six months?

It's a great win, obviously. It puts great wind into our sails going into 2012. So it's going to be helpful for the bottom line, obviously. It's helpful for morale. It's validation of our view of what media should be about. There are many people focused on ExxonMobil beyond myself, but I think for the agency as a whole this couldn't have happened at a better time.

Any specific ideas that you guys are working on with them?

No. It's all preliminary, and I would be the wrong person to even begin to try to answer that.

How are you working with other UM cluster presidents?

I think we have a good collaborative relationship so far.

You've used some variation of the word "collaborate" a few times now.

Collaborative cultures are attractive to me not just as a leader of the agency, but I do think it is actually a competitive advantage, believe it or not. I do think that collaboration is not just a warm and fuzzy HR concept. I think that it is an underappreciated skill set and mind-set.

What can you take from the experience of working with clients like GlaxoSmithKline and P&G and apply to UM?

Because of our vision that media is so much more central and that we want our media to be accountable to our clients' business outcomes. To get to that kind of partnership with clients today I think you really need a relationship focus and the ability to move upstream in the conversation. I think that there are plenty of people here that have very deep client skills. I just think that we need to make it a little more uniform and a little bit more a part of the culture, so it's a little more front and center than what it has been.

How are technologies like addressability changing media agencies?

It's a good question. I think that all digital technologies that have made more and more data and information about the customer available to us on the one hand are sort of daunting. But as a marketer I think it opens up a great deal of possibilities.

How does that massive amount of data that the media agencies now control shape the business?

Data is only the beginning. I think the opportunity is to mine it for insights, the opportunity for deeper target understanding from which to create better strategies so we can track the outcomes more. I think it's changing the pace in which we have to respond.