Michael Maedel: Asia’s young talent are being promoted too quickly and not given enough experience in Western markets

Michael MaedelAsia’s young advertising talent are being promoted too quickly and are not being given enough exposure to mature Western markets to gain much needed skills and experience, a former regional agency boss has suggested.

Michael Maedel, the former APAC chairman of JWT, said in an interview with Mumbrella that high demand from Asia’s growth markets is pressuring ad agencies to move talent through the ranks before they are fully prepared.

“As there is so much demand, agencies are looking to progress careers very quickly. So agencies are hiring people from a relatively junior level who have not had the chance to build a level of experience that is helpful to clients,” he said.

Though it may not seem obviously beneficial to do so, agency networks should look to place their best young staff in markets in the West for a period of time, to give them the experience clients are looking for in agency execs.

“What we haven’t done is put enough Asian talent in Western markets. It does happen on a small level, but it has to happen much earlier,” Maedel said.

“Typically in Asia, you have to reach a certain level, to senior account director or higher, before you might be considered for a move around the network and overseas,” he explained.

“If you identify that an individual will play an important part of the company in the future, you have to move them at some point. Clients are doing this much better, as they have a bigger scale on which to operate,” he reflected.

Maedel also stressed the need for agencies to rethink their approach to training.

“Training needs to be seen from a longer term perspective,” he said. “You don’t train people by sending them on a three-day day workshop and that’s it for the year. It’s a sequence that’s leads to a defined target over time. It’s not an ad hoc course and a salary increase.”

“Agencies have to understand that training does not immediately generate revenue or return. If you send someone on a good training course, this will not mean that the client will immediately increase their budget the next day. It’s a mistake to connect cost with return,” Maedel said.

The highly regarded executive recently took a job to to run recruitment firm Grace Blue’s Asia operations. Maedel was chairman of JWT Asia Pacific for almost eight years. Over a 42-year career, he worked for JWT for 25.


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