R/GA has lured back former Australia chief Rebecca Bezzina to run the agency’s London office as managing director, a year after she resigned.
Bezzina has been appointed senior vice-president, managing director, at R/GA London and replaces the long-serving Matt Lodder, who left in November.
Her sole focus will be on running the London office, while Lodder was also managing director for EMEA. R/GA has an EMEA executive leadership team, which is led by chief creative officer Andre Le Masurier and executive strategy director Rob Campbell, with help from global chief executive Sean Lyons.
Bezzina joined R/GA Sydney as a client services director in 2013 and was promoted to managing director of client services nearly two years later. After taking a break from the agency in 2016 to run Cummins & Partners Sydney as managing director, she returned to R/GA Australia as managing director nine months later and led account wins such as Wine Australia and the National Rugby League. Bezzina also oversaw the opening of R/GA second Australia office, in Melbourne in 2017.
Having now joined R/GA for a third time (initially on an interim basis in London since January), Bezzina joked that she is a "boomerang" and explained that she left last year on a sabbatical to start a business that was quite a departure for a digital marketing services agency boss. Alongside her sister, Bezzina launched Kids That Make, a mail-order service that provides activity boxes for children to encourage them to create art instead of relying on tech devices.
Bezzina told Campaign: "R/GA has always been a place where I’ve been surrounded by diverse thinkers to collaborate with and make great work. The culture and what we stand for is why I came back."
The agency has had a very successful past few years, having won multiple Campaign Agency of the Year awards. R/GA London was also recently awarded Campaign's Agency of the Decade.
"We should be leaving this world by having put more good into it." Bezzina explained. "From R/GA London’s point of view, the constant has always been transforming our model… what got us agency of the decade in the past won’t get us to the next."
Taking charge during the pandemic
Bezzina said she does not intend to make any significant hires to the agency at this stage ("Only if capability shifts") and is tight-lipped about the immediate changes she expects to see at R/GA London over the next year, save for a general assurance that the agency is "looking at a number of things from a tech and data point of view".
Coming to London from Australia, a smaller market in which she admitted once can feel "geographically isolated", Bezzina pointed out that she has dealt with smaller budgets and has had to do more with less. She said: "That real entrepreneurial spirit is worth an awful lot in that market. I’m already seeing good examples of how we apply that here in London – the change is just as vast but feels a little slower, but the core pieces are starting to move."
Having worked at R/GA London on an interim basis since January, Bezzina now finds herself officially taking the reins at a time of a global crisis. She spoke to Campaign four working days after R/GA London staff began working from home.
For clients, she accepts that the coronavirus disruption may accelerate some plans to digitally transform: "We’re seeing new economy brands like Slack and brands where tech is at their core – they need to be building their brands. But on the other side, we’re seeing some of more traditional clients really looking at how they transform and how tech plays a role in consumers lives but done in the right way. We’re talking more to clients about what their sustainable approach is and how they're using digital to serve customers in the right way. Even though we’re in chaos, it’s quite an exciting time."
When asked to describe her leadership style, "energetic" was the first word that came to Bezzina’s lips, followed by "authentic" and "inclusive", explaining that she is not afraid to "dig deep" with teams. "I try to steer the ship and guide ambitions; we’re the sum of our parts," she added.
Before R/GA, Bezzina worked at M&C Saatchi and its sister agency Mark for five years and during that time worked on brands including Google, Nestlé and Qantas.
Lyons added: "I couldn’t be happier to officially welcome Becs back to R/GA as the new MD for our London office. She has a proven record of delivering the work that drives business success for our clients, while building and leading the teams necessary to do it, and her understanding of our unique DNA coupled with her optimism and energy make her an R/GA-er through and through."