Up close with Lydia Gough-Davies, Business Director, Prophecy Unlimited

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4 July 2019

Talk us through how you landed your first role in the ad industry 

In the final year of my Philosophy degree, I went to a Proctor & Gamble talk about the mysterious but glamorous-sounding world of marketing. They chatted through the story behind Aussie Hair products and explained how they went about launching the brand to a nation of wannabe beach babes. The realisation that I could work in a creative environment akin to the school art block – coupled with the promise of freebies – meant that I walked away convinced that marketing was for me.

So I took a summer job on reception at an ad agency in Victoria to get closer to the action. This enabled me to take advantage of daily access to the various departments – whilst handing out the post – to ask people questions about their roles and what they were working on. Eventually (perhaps to free the role up for someone more focussed on the task at hand!) someone put me in touch with a contact at an ad recruitment agency. Before I knew it, I had an interview for an Account Executive role at an integrated agency on the Southbank. All I can remember from the interview was saying just how much I wanted the opportunity to prove myself, and it did the trick. Turns out it was their first year of running a grad programme and as a brand-new grad, I was immediately looped in with the others.

What most excites you about the direction Prophecy Unlimited is moving in?

We’ve made it our mission to build enduring relationships between brands and people by creating seamless customer experiences across every touchpoint. This means that the onus is on us to provide insights gleaned from a better use of data and apply this to parts of the customer journey which aren’t joined up – ensuring a focus on demonstrating ROI and effectiveness. No small undertaking, but something we have a proven track record of as an agency.

For Client Services, this means having a deep knowledge of how customers interact with our Clients’ brands in order to identify the pinch points. It also means building strong relationships with our clients, so they trust us and are therefore willing to be steered in a new direction if it has the promise of driving efficiencies and measurable gains. All of this means a renewed commitment to empowerment has come at the perfect time for everyone in Client Services – and throughout the agency – to achieve real growth.

If you could change one thing about the industry for the better, what would it be? 

Interviewing entry-level applicants has become increasingly full of surprises. With the advent of online website builders and social tools enabling those with an entrepreneurial spirit to create their own brands, the number of interviewees setting out their stall as online retailers and building their own communities has grown to the extent that it is now the norm for recent graduates to have a side hustle business of their own.

How then can that same entrepreneurial enthusiasm be channelled for the benefit of our clients? I’d like to see the industry find ways to enable people to work flexibly outside of their core responsibilities so that some of those skills can be shared and applied to solving business problems for even the largest of our clients for whom we have a well-defined remit. It may mean persuading clients to take risks with smaller-scale pilot projects, but we need to find ways to inspire and encourage the same level of idea generation and proactivity in the working day that we know these e-retailers/influencers/food bloggers have in spades when they leave the office.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt since starting at Prophecy?

Everybody pitches in here. So as well as being closely involved in making the agency run effectively as a business – from account profitability and the importance of clear forecasting to resource mapping and succession planning – I also lead departmental meetings and support with new starter initiatives. It’s been a great 3 years and I can’t wait to see what’s next. For Prophecy Unlimited, our clients and our people.

Lydia Gough-Davies is Business Director at Prophecy Unlimited, the customer journey agency.

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