We have a strong team in India and we are growing as an agency: James Edgar, Wavemaker

In a chat with exchange4media, Edgar, Global Chief Talent Officer at Wavemaker, speaks about how the agency has been focusing on caring for the clients & how it keeps improving employee experience

by Shweta Raaj Singh
Published - Jul 22, 2019 8:45 AM Updated: Jul 22, 2019 8:45 AM

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Edgar

With clients like Vodafone, IKEA, Paramount Pictures and L’Oréal, Wavemaker stands as the second largest media agency network in the world, operating in 90 countries worldwide. 

Aiming to make Wavemaker the most rewarding and inclusive place to work with, James Edgar, Global Chief Talent Officer at Wavemaker spoke to exchange4media about his journey so far and the challenges that come with talent acquisition.

Asked how Wavemaker was working towards continuing the success story, Edgar said getting it ‘Right’ has been important in the process and it’s easier when the focus is on three areas - ‘how we care’, ‘how we create’, and ‘how we grow’. 

Explaining the drive to keep evolving, Edgar said, “We have been clear that we will succeed by not only showing how we care for our clients and the work we produce for them, but also for our employees and how we keep improving their experience. Since we create innovative and exciting work that mixes creativity with data-led insights, it allows our staff to create amazing experiences and careers with Wavemaker. Moreover, we use our insights to help clients grow their businesses, and also help our employees have a rewarding and fulfilling career.”

Edgar believes it is a dynamic environment and Wavemaker, as an agency, has not been complacent. What really excites him is about the prospects with the agency and what Wavemaker as a media agency has been creating. 

However, he points out that with the great talent around, Wavemaker has been increasingly finding competition for great talent. On the challenges in talent acquisition, Edgar said: “We are increasingly competing with traditional agencies, strategy companies, media owners, clients and technology firms. Wavemaker offers a unique proposition and that includes a career opportunity with an exposure to technology, data and analytics and working with clients in a more consultative way to help develop strategies for their growth leading to the execution of that marketing plan. It is thus a special intersection that only few others can match.”

According to Edgar, Wavemaker will continue to find ways to effectively position this offer out in the market place, continue to challenge and seek the best talent. “As we develop in new consultative and product offers, we will see the need to bring in those from outside media with relevant skills and learning commitment to develop as we do.”

Applauding the talent and phenomenal works that come from India, Edgar says the talent in India is really strong. With a strong team present here, it gives Wavemaker opportunity for progression. For Edgar, Wavemaker has been developing their offerings and as the agency continues on this journey it will need to recruit more from the non-traditional sectors. “We have a strong team in India and we are growing as an agency. This gives opportunities for progression. We have seen great talent from India move to other regions as well. We need to continue and increase our focus on development. This is part of the evolution we are going through.” 

Throwing light on some of the works done by the agency, Edgar said, “The work we have done with clients has had tangible impact on their brand or the sales. They have created a social impact on issues like suicide rates among farmers. This shows the creativity and power of the work we really do. The client feedback on how we have serviced them or onboarded them also gives us great pride.  However, we need to continue pushing the boundaries.” 

Asked about the challenges faced in retaining good talent in a competitive and growing market like India, Edgar said talent and technology have to go hand in hand. “As we develop our offering in areas such as Content, Precision Marketing and e-Commerce, harnessing the insight we can gain from the data we hold, there is an increased need for technology. This changes some of the skills we need as an organisation and so we need to adapt and develop.” 

Wavemaker has developed a focus in their Global People Strategy to improve their employee experience, and focus on development and career planning. “We have launched a new employee portal-FutureMe-which provides a one-stop shop for employees. Through this system we can understand the skills and experience we have across the network. The system helps us set goals, provide performance feedback, allow greater insight with 360-degree feedback. We will soon launch real-time peer-to-peer feedback too.”

Speaking about talent welfare development by the agency, Edgar said, “Last year, we introduced Future Maker Awards. It is our internal awards competition, meant to surface the very best work from within the agency and reward our talent by giving them a chance to submerge themselves in what is undoubtedly one of our industry’s most important hotspots for creativity: Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.” This year, the winning team from Wavemaker India reported about their Cannes experience through a series of articles in exchange4media. 

Talking further about diversity and an inclusive environment, he spoke about the recent association of Wavemaker with Outin Tech, a non-profit LGBTQ+ organisation. “We are proud to be associated with organisations such as Outin Tech. We have a number of partnerships through Wavemaker and via GroupM and WPP, such as supporting work with the UN on female equality. We benefit from innovation and creativity from the diversity of thought,” Edgar added.

Highlighting the need for developing a local market diversity and inclusion strategy, he said, “We have worked hard in India to support the development of future female leaders with programmes such as Walk the Talk and Fast Forward. We have appointed our first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer who is also responsible for new business growth to show this fundamental link to our business.”

Almost completing a year on this job, Edgar describes his journey so far as a roller coaster ride. “I have loved the journey we have been on but am more excited about our future. I get a real buzz travelling the markets to see the talent and work we create for our clients. India is no exception. We have real passion and entrepreneurship in this market and that is infectious,” Edgar said before signing off.

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