Young Leadership Group

Posted 14 July 2015.

The Comms Council Young Leadership Group, under the guidance of Marlen Smith, Comms Council Industry Development Manager, have identified an essential need for the industry - to connect with and support new talent in order to ‘future proof’ the industry.

The First Five Rungs is their project arm, under which the YLG members have committed their personal time, resource and support of one another to create initiatives to demonstrate how valued ‘newbies’ are to the advertising industry.

The YLG’s mission is:

“To engage, challenge and inspire the brightest young talent - the future of the advertising world.”

YLG Members:

Marlen Smith - Industry Development Manager, Comms Council

When Marlen began her role just over six years ago, she became aware of the need to future proof talent for the industry and ensure emerging leaders had the opportunity to explore and develop their leadership skills in a safe and collaborative environment. Marlen has nurtured and mentored the Young Leaders Group and their project arm the First Five Rungs.

Marlen is passionate about the advertising industry and is an advocate for raising professional standards. Her inspiration comes from the many talented and bright people she works with and their commitment to creating extraordinary work. Her commitment to young people entering the industry is well regarded and she has earned the reputation of a confidant, a trusted advisor and someone who genuinely cares for all the young people she works with. She is immensely proud of all those who have been involved with the YLG|FFR group and what they have achieved.

While consistently choosing to remain in the background, those who get to know Marlen have observed her love of life and people! They also know that most years she can be found in the mosh pit at R+V or sipping bubbles on any day ending with ‘y’.


Harriette Hanson (Chair) - Senior Account Manager, J. Walter Thompson

Harriette is one of the longest standing First Five Rungs members, joining the group in 2014 and stepping into the role of Chair in February 2017. A Senior Account Manager at JWT, Harriette is passionate about creative solutions to client’s business problems, the advertising industry as a whole and supporting newbies. In her role as Chair, Harriette takes a fun, supportive approach to leadership, challenging the group to constantly rise to the next challenge and have a laugh along the way. She takes extreme pride in her incredible team and the fantastic initiatives they execute.



Bonnie Shum (Deputy-Chair) - Senior Account Manager, Special Group

Bonnie joined the group back in 2013 and has watched both the team, and their initiatives, grow tremendously in a very short period of time. Her drive comes from creating meaningful work that has an impact on people and she has a passion for working with creative minds. This not only comes through in her role as a Senior Account Manager at Special Group, but also her role as Deputy Chair in the First Five Rungs. As the longest standing member of the group, Bonnie has supported the team in developing their clear purpose, their identity and their initiatives in supporting the young people in the industry


Abel Banda - Business Manager, Vizeum

Abel joined the group back in early 2017 and has since seen the team as a whole and individuals grow immensely. The thing he’s most excited about moving forward are the new initiatives in development, particularly those around research and talent retention.

As a Business Manager at Vizeum he is most passionate about pulling together creative media solutions with clients that are willing to push the boundaries to engage their audiences. In his time outside the industry, he’s keen on sport, music and all things to do with food.



Jed Misa - Senior Content & Social Manager, FUSE

Jed joined the group in 2016, and since then has been involved in some great initiatives, more recently focusing his efforts into the ‘Yarns with…” social content series. As Senior Content & Social Manager at FUSE – OMD, Jed is down with all things social. On top of his extensive knowledge of the social landscape he is very passionate about technology and the role it can play in the future of the ad industry. Jed loves a good laugh, and will always find an opportunity to peddle his plethora of puns to the group and anyone willing to lend an ear.



Scarlett Sneddon - PR Account Executive, FCB

Scarlett joined the group part-way through 2018 making her one of the most recent additions to the epic YLG team. Scarlett is a new face to the advertising industry herself, allowing her to bring a fresh perspective to the team.

Through her role as an Public Relations Account Executive, Scarlett demonstrates organisation and attention to detail, as well as a willingness to put her hand up for any opportunity. Scarlett has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and loves taking on a challenge. When she’s not smashing out PR campaigns you’ll find her sipping coffee and eating poutine at Federal St Deli.


Holly Eden - Senior Account Manager, FCB

Holly joined the First Five Rungs group late in 2017, and has embraced all of the challenges that have come her way. She led (alongside another group member) the most recent networking event “First Five Dates” which was a huge success and was highly regarded in the industry. This was right up Holly’s ally - planning, organising, executing and delivering events to help the industry is where her passion lies. This also transfers across into her day job as a Senior Media Account Manager at FCB, where she manages a team of 10 (and that’s just internally!) and never lets anything slip through the gaps. Holly’s confidence has grown massively since the start of her career in the Advertising industry, which is why she is driven to help juniors who are just starting out to do the same.




Tara Collins - Junior Strategist, Colenso BBDO

As a Junior Strategist at Colenso BBDO, Tara joined First Five Rungs in April of 2017. Since then, she has been involved in the creation of our Yarn’s With interview series and the identity of the First Five Dates networking event. She is passionate about building the First Five Rungs brand with the young people of the industry and how that brand grows with what the industry needs as a voice for young people.



Max Douglas - Business Manager, DDB

Max joined the group in September 2018, to pursue her passion for helping others who are joining the advertising industry. She’s really excited to get involved in initiatives for newbies to help give them a strong voice when starting out.

A Business Manager at DDB, Max is driven to help her clients achieve growth through creative solutions. Max is always willing to help others out and prides herself on doing so with a positive attitude, and always with a smile.



Sarskia Melville - Studio Manager, KingSt Advertising

Sarskia joined the team in late 2018, eager to encourage more young designers and creative-types to engage with the wider advertising industry and find a seat at the metaphorical table. Sarskia is a graphic designer and studio manager at KingSt Advertising, looking after the studio/account management relationships and ensuring a high level of design execution is achieved and all considerations are worked through on every project. A big believer in out-of-hours passion projects, she loves working alongside social enterprises, using design as a tool to grow their businesses.




Lloyd Thomason - Planner, BC&F Dentsu

Lloyd has worked as a Planner at BC&F Dentsu for three years. Since joining the First Five Rungs, Lloyd has taken the lead on a research project aimed at uncovering the difficulties that people encounter when they start out in advertising. He looks forward to working with the group to introduce new initiatives that ensure newcomers hit the ground running.





Georgia Woodbridge - Account Manager, Saatchi & Saatchi

Georgia is an account manager at Saatchi & Saatchi and joined the FFR team in 2017. Georgia joined the First Five Rungs team after receiving support herself as a junior from the YLG group and wanted to be able to help other people starting off in the industry. She loves problem solving and being someone other people can look up to and come to for advice. Georgia has been working on a retention project for FFR trying to combat the issues young people face in their first few years in the industry. Hoping to come up with some useful solutions to combat these problems. She is really excited about the opportunities to come within the group and to help motivate and encourage more young people to join and remain in the industry.

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