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For the love of planning

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As long as I’ve been a planner – and it’s been a while – there’s a nasty little rumour that planners don’t make great CEOs.

Around eight years ago, I thought I’d poke that legend and see if it was true by offering myself into the role of MD, then CEO across Melbourne and Sydney agency-land.

Without wishing to sound trite, my world changed overnight as I shifted from a strategy role to an agency lead role. I quickly realised that while an entire agency team might be accountable, it’s the leader who’s culpable. Always. You share the glory, naturally, but you take on every complaint, concern and whine. Everyone’s problems become your own. And that’s ok, you reason, because you want to do the right thing and air grievances, move forward and get on with the task of doing good by your people, and making great work.

But it’s not that simple.

There’s the P&L for starters. A blunt beast. But a strict measure of commercial performance.

And then there’s the volatility of Sydney, especially. It’s a transient, challenging market. I’d argue one of the hardest in the world given the extent of supply, the extent to which demand has its head turned often and the value we put on saving face, versus saying no.

An old colleague said to me, owning the P&L is a thankless task. When it hums your boss expects it to, when it........

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