Senior talent continues to target media owners over agencies

The annual Lighthouse Company Illuminations event was held in central London last week, where the results of the headhunter's New World Talent survey revealed some key industry trends among media's senior leaders.


According to the Lighthouse study of 500 industry leaders, media owners were once again deemed to be more attractive employers than media agencies, suggesting media agencies must now do more to either enhance their reputations or remuneration packages.

Only 16 per cent saw their next move to an agency while 38 per cent thought that they would move to a media owner. The inexorable rise in the appeal of tech businesses, with all the attractive rewards that generally come with them, was also borne out – they have risen in attractiveness from 11 per cent to 18 per cent.

Another striking trend was the disparity between when people think they will leave the industry, and when they actually do.  The majority of media leaders held the belief that most people leave the industry in their late 40s. In regards to their own career, the participating leaders anticipate ploughing their own media furrow until their late 50s.

In reality, industry statistics show that most people will have left the media business by their late 30s. The IPA Agency Census shows that only 20.1 per cent of people in agencies are over 40 and we think this is reflective of the advertising and media industry as a whole. 

Kathleen Saxton, founder of The Lighthouse, noted: "A potential 20 year discrepancy is unsettling and suggests that many are not doing enough to plan for the future as they overestimate their longevity. Indeed, our research also revealed that nearly half of industry leaders are "essentially doing nothing" to plan for their career outside the industry, with the general assumption that when the sun finally sets on full-time work, the offer of non-executiveships will come knocking. In reality there aren't enough of these to go around, so the need to start planning and equipping ourselves for the future has never looked so pressing."

In terms of the present working life, respondents were largely optimistic about the future, with 56 per cent feeling positive about growth prospects for the year ahead. Equally there seemed to be job satisfaction with fewer people seeking to leave the industry or even start their own companies than in previous years.

When asked which company people would be most inspired to work for the list was Twitter, Google, Sky, ITV and Facebook. Incidentally both ITV, Twitter and Facebook were also seen as the star performers of 2014 while Channel 4, ZenithOptimedia and Yahoo were seen as ones that hadn't achieved their full potential.

The growth in the importance of channels like Facebook and Twitter as potential employers is also reflected in the research that showed how these social media sites are also becoming important as potential business tools. Compared to five years ago, 44 per cent of respondents said that they were more willing to reveal more of their personal life while 56 per cent admitted to being friends with clients and colleagues on social media while nearly half spend time with them at the weekends.

Most viewed this trend as positive - the prospect of conducting business over the Sunday lunch table has become a reality and a live issue that we think will continue. Either way a greater level of trust is shown when we let others into our lives as it reveals our authentic selves.

One man who has a low-profile on social media but is renowned for using his personal connections was also voted in the survey as 2015's fantasy hire: Sir Martin Sorrell. Now 70 years old, he is clearly still considered one of media's major forces.

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