SAM HARRIS – CLIENT SERVICES DIRECTOR – STARCOM
Can you provide a short work bio – where you started, where you are now?
I started at Channel Nine in the late 90’s as a media coordinator – this was back in the day when we had email but no internet browsers and spent the bulk of my day on a DOS based sales system or sending confirms via fax!
After 7 year stints at both Channel Nine and SBS, 3 years in start-ups and Authentic Entertainment I made the move into the world of media agencies taking on the role of Client Services Director at Starcom.
What is the focus of your current role?
The current focus of my role as Client Services Director is a balancing act internally and externally. Working internally with amazing talent to ensure we have the right talent, resources, structure and processes to deliver great work for our clients. Externally I work with the media to help deliver the right opportunities to drive the required business results for my clients. Importantly, I also work externally with clients to ensure Starcom not only acutely understands their business needs but are engaging with them to play a vital role in delivering to these needs.
What has been the most important skill set or piece of experience from your past roles in the media owner space (and startups) that you have brought across to media agency?
It’s really hard to quantify one specific skill set or experience as it really is the sum of all parts, but what I’ve learnt in effective communication in both media sales and startups has gone a long way.
It’s the balance of knowing how to ask the right questions and shutting-the-hell-up to learn and get the information needed to do your job properly. I’ve applied this to help me learn and understand my clients and colleagues needs, to recognise both individual and broader business goals.
What has been your biggest challenge? And how did you overcome it?
When you’re sales side you really don’t fully comprehend the huge amount of competitors in the media sales landscape. The biggest challenge has been managing the time to meet with all the media organisations. It’s a hard challenge to overcome and all I could do was manage expectations and meet with everyone as soon as possible.
What was the first thing you realised you didn’t know, that you had to learn exceptionally quickly?
Internal Starcom acronyms – thank god for Evernote! I was able to write them all down and quietly ask people what they stood for.
Nearly 12 months in the new role now, what was your view of the media agency world before you took on this role? And what is your view now?
I always knew media agencies worked hard, but was blown away with how hard we work – there’s a lot of stakeholders to work with from internal, to media and importantly to our clients.
What is the most important thing to consider when moving from media owner to media agency?
There really is a lot of transferable skills so my advice would be to consider the culture and people within the agency you’re looking to move into. It makes a huge difference and should be as important as the title and money.
Who is someone you admire and why?
Robert Downey Jr – got to respect a bloke that can make the biggest comeback of all time…. and do it with so much style, charisma and impact.
What do you enjoy doing in your downtime?
Like work it’s a balancing act – I love my family, my mates and my riding club. I and am very lucky to have an amazing wife, 3 year old son, 9 month old daughter and patient British bulldog that has had to take a back seat to the new additions. I round out my downtime on beach road on the bike with my riding club, and catching up with mates.
If you weren’t working in media what would you be doing?
Putting together an ex-media boy band.