Leaning into change: Lindsay Pattison

21 Oct,2014


When we met her in Mumbai a few weeks back, a senior GroupM official had alerted us that she was the Global CEO-in-waiting.  Lindsay Pattison has been successfully leading Maxus in the UK for five years, taking it in that time from a ranking of 14 to a No 7 position, and from 30 people to now over 250. She has also held the global Chief Strategy Officer role for the last two years, overseeing product, planning, marketing, new business and effectiveness.


And now Pattison replaces Sakhuja as Global CEO of Maxus. She will co-locate between London and New York and will report to GroupM Global President Dominic Proctor. “I am thrilled to step up into this role,” she said in the communique announcing her appointment. “I love the energy of Maxus and I relish opportunity that comes from our unique and fortunate position as the challenger brand within GroupM.”


Pattison, who will be succeeded in the UK CEO role by Nick Baughan, currently the MD, joined Maxus in October 2009 in the newly created position of CEO to drive the agency brand to a new level, both in the UK and as part of the global management team. In August 2012, she was named as the new Global Chief Strategy Officer for Maxus, working alongside her duties in the UK. She would take direct responsibility for global planning, data and insights, digital, marketing and new business functions.


In between her travel from London to New York, Pattison took time off to respond to the questions from Pradyuman Maheshwari


Having seen Maxus grow from a small, smart media agency to one of the world’s brightest, your sentiments as you take charge as CEO of the agency?

To reiterate my quote before I am thrilled to step up into this role. I love the energy of Maxus and I relish the opportunity that comes from our unique and fortunate position as the challenger brand within GroupM. I am most energised by our people; we have people with PACE; passionate, agile, collaborative and entrepreneurial and we take those values and behaviour very seriously. It all comes from having brilliant colleagues, solving client challenges At Maxus we have a mantra to lean into change. In fact it’s really to lead change for our clients, navigating the complexity and embracing the possibilities offered in a digitalised, mobile, always-on media landscape. It’s an incredibly exciting time to lead a media agency.


You have been Chief Strategy Officer since the last few years and hence have been shaping the course of the agency’s business for a bit. Is there something that you would like to see happen over the next few months and years?

We still need Growth - in our people as they broaden their skillsets and help our clients business navigate the multifarious opportunities in today’s media landscape. We want a win-win in the success of our clients’ businesses as without them we are nothing. And of course more growth for Maxus globally as the smallest and fastest growing media agency worldwide outright, and of course the fastest growing agency within GroupM.


You were in India just a fortnight back. Any thoughts on Maxus Team India?

Maxus India is a shining star in our global network. As the dominant agency in the Indian media scene, we’re in a tremendous position because of the incredible passion and energy of Kartik (Sharma) and his team in all our offices. I was delighted to see our teams in action as we met with several of our key clients. I could see the mutual respect and the strategic value our clients get from Maxus. And there is a palpable entrepreneurial zeal in our team in India - whether that is developing world leading commumications platforms such as the ‘Power of 49’ for Tata or developing fascinating partnerships with academia, Moribus. There is a restlessness to keep striving for better that is a real delight to see.


Is the new digital, programmatic order scary for media agency businesses such as yours?

Digital, and programmatic buying as a subset, is all about opportunity. I know it can be somewhat overwhelming for some clients - but our role at Maxus is to be a trusted advisor in this space and work with our clients to make the most of the opportunities on offer, to help them lean into change rather than be fearful of change. With programmatic specifically in mind, there is a huge benefit to clients working with Maxus and GroupM, where I see amazing talent and deeply impressive tech supporting our clients in their business goals.


While new clients and great work are fine, eventually it’s the bottomline that shareholders are looking at. Any immediate thoughts on how you are looking at pushing profitability in your tenure?

Well I think the answer to continued profitability is to focus on your clients’ needs and ensure you are delivering great work with great people - it’s a virtuous cycle. That’s how we’ve grown Maxus faster than any other media agency network over the past 5 years, and that’s what we will continue to do.


And lastly, as he makes way for you, a word on Vikram Sakhuja as Global CEO?

Vikram has been a breath of fresh air to Maxus, bringing an entrepreneurial zeal to our agency and in his own words, brought ‘systems to scale, whilst retaining the soul of a start-up’. I am looking forward to working with him closely in the future.


First appeared on dna of brands dated October 21, 2014


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