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MEC’s global boss Charles Courtier on talent: ‘Sometimes we forget about strategic brains’

07 July 2015
MEC’s global boss Charles Courtier on talent: ‘Sometimes we forget about strategic brains’

Attracting and nurturing talent is both an opportunity and a challenge for media agencies, and while it is easy to be seduced by the lustre of data, digital and tech, it’s important to consider the nuts and bolts of business, says MEC worldwide chief executive Charles Courtier.

Courtier, who sat down for a chat with M&M Global editor Alex Brownsell at the Cannes Lions 2015, outlines three key areas that are key to the health and development of media and marketing communications. But for him, there is one essential ingredient.

“It’s all about talent, and I know everybody always says that,” Courtier says. “The talent needs in our business and the speed that it’s moving have never been greater, never more complicated, never more diverse.”

Diversity has to a greater extent come to define media, with the industry clamouring for new ability sets outside that of the traditional media planner or buyer.

“We have to attract a lot of new skills into this business, where typically they perhaps would not have thought of this as an industry to come into in the first place,” Courtier says. “So I think that’s a huge onus on us in this business to find that talent and attract it in.

Of course, all the talent in the world would be meaningless without a firm client base. For MEC the “growth of our clients’ business” is second on the agency’s list of priorities.

“For obvious reasons that’s our core existence and if our clients are successful then we will be too,” Courtier says.

Here is the interview in full:


But while the acquisition of talent and client business are what drive MEC forward, there is a broader obligation to grow the industry as a whole, Courtier insists.

“I think we should have a responsibility to push the boundaries of this industry, to make it more exciting, to break new ground the whole time,” he says.

The onus on media agencies is to stay one step ahead of developments in the communications world, which is, Courtier admits, a “big ask”.

“You’re changing the wheels on a bus that’s going 1000 miles per hour. Yes, it’s exhausting but it’s also really exciting and inspiring. It’s an extraordinary time to be in this business.

“I think we should be proud as an industry of what we’re achieving. We are changing at great speed and the talent being attracted into this business is really genuinely different than just a few years ago.

“The trouble is that it’s never enough, and however fast we’re changing, it’s never fast enough. But I suspect that will always be the case.”

But while it’s understandably easy to become dazzled by the allure of data, digital and tech, the industry’s regard for these disciplines should not eclipse the older, more traditional aspects of business.

Digital, data and technology are “incredibly important”, Courtier insists: “But it’s also the talent with real strategic leadership ability, which I think is incredibly important.

"Those are the people that shape what all the specialism does. They’re the ones that make sense of ‘This is what the communications programme is’, ‘This is what the platform is’, ‘This is where we’re trying to take this brand’.

“Sometimes we’re forgetting about those strategic brains, that are the ones that complete the story, that guide the narrative, and have the ability to navigate our clients the communication chaos that’s going on.”

M&M Global staff, London

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