Being Bold About Talent with Momentum's CTO

By Jennifer Frieman, Global Chief Talent Officer, Momentum Worldwide

As agencies have faced recent financial hardships due to the current climate, how do you think they can make hiring new talent a priority?

Even in the midst of the incredibly tough year we’ve seen across the marketing landscape, the things that drive the success of our industry haven’t changed—we are a talent-based business and we must continue to attract and introduce new and diverse people into our ecosystem to continue to push the envelope in creativity and innovation.

While the pandemic has moved many agencies to become leaner in terms of fixed staff, we have become much bolder in our concept of where great talent exists—and open to thinking beyond location-based talent sourcing in our newly expanded virtual workforce. We also have been able to make connections through shorter-term hiring solutions for non-retained project work that has opened the door for relationships to form that set us up for future hiring. 

How should agencies address the issue of lack of Black employees in mid- to senior to C-Suite roles?

We need to make the space for new talent in our agency world by expanding on how we define the experience we require for top roles. By mid- and senior-career stages, most people have spent at least twenty years refining their skills in an industry. But historically, the marcomms world has not presented enough opportunity for diverse talent to enter and therefore build the experience required to create the pool of agency-experienced talent the industry demands right now. Our industry is shaped by so many dimensions of the business landscape—leaders in industry, client service, sales, retail, culture and tech. All present diverse opportunity for marketing agencies to consider as they source talent to creatively solve client and consumer challenges at top levels. We need to think in a more multi-dimensional way when we look at leadership team design. Depth of business experience can translate across industries in exciting ways if teams open their consideration set and lean in to help new leads fill in any real time gaps.

How do you think the new class of talent can reshape the agency landscape?

Innovation comes when diverse thinking and perspective gets smashed together with need or opportunity. Our industry is unique in its creative foundation—our work is dedicated to solving problems and human issues through the lens of the products we connect to consumer need. Our ability to bring together varied experiences and backgrounds provides us with the power to envision solutions from a multi-layered backdrop of human experience. We are inventors—our canvas is experience. 

What advice do you have for the next class of talent entering the workforce?

It’s a tough time to be entering the workforce right now, because clearly jobs are scarce. But it is a great time to learn, too. Businesses are being pushed in ways that they’ve never been before and change is everywhere—it’s a time when everything is being redefined. Finding ways to add experience and education that support agility for your entire career will serve you for the long haul.

Widen your job search net to include industries that you’re passionate about that can provide transferrable skills for your future career journey. Test out different kinds of roles—project-based and freelance support are going to be key for talent looking to get a foot in the door. 

What does the conversation around talent look like one year from now?

The industry will be slimmer, with talent that can do more wide-ranging work across projects with versatility. There will be more flexibility in location and working hours that will help realize a more diverse talent mix.

The new opportunity to reach into local markets and communities that had been overlooked because they sat outside major markets in years past will give the industry the exciting chance to change the face of talent and the industry for years to come.