Last year Andrew Dimitriou was appointed European President of Y&R, a leading global boutique agency specialising in advertising, marketing, digital and social media and brand identity.
Born and raised in Australia, Andrew made his way across the world to New York in 1999, where he began his career at Y&R as an Account Manager; primarily working on pharmaceutical accounts. The following 16 years, he worked long and hard and proved himself a leader in his industry and continues to succeed in this field.
Andrew is referred to as a “strategic thinker”, “thoughtful integrated marketer” and “a true globalist with a clear vision and direction.”
With a career that spans the globe, including stints in Australia, New York, London, Prague, Japan, Kansas and Latin America; Andrew along with his wife and young children are currently based in Paris. He took some time out of his busy schedule to chat to GCT about his success, drive and commitment, which have earned him respect and admiration amongst peers and the advertising/marketing world alike.
When did you realise you had an interest for the advertising industry?
There’s no other business like it in the world. We are in a unique position to create ideas that shape culture. Just think that 10 years ago — you did not see white ear phones — now whole sub segments of culture are defined by wearing them. Brands come and go; the ones that remain a part of us are the ones that are embedded in culture. Who would not like to go to the office every day — with the thought that they have the chance to shape culture.
What was the first advertising agency you worked for?
I have been fortunate to work for a few agencies, but the first agency I consider a grown up agency; one of significance is Y&R. And in Madison Avenue no less, which I have my wife to thank for that.
You have been with Y&R for over 16 years, what do you think is the key to staying with the same company for so long?
In today’s world, there is a belief that to get ahead in your career you need to be able to switch companies. Perhaps my view is a contrarian view, especially amongst the younger millennial set, this perception that you need to hop from company to company to succeed. My belief is different. You need to find an industry that you are passionate about, a company that shares your values, and focus your energy on delivering and make a name for yourself in the company and industry. If you have shared values with the company you work for, and you believe in yourself — you will not have short term distraction(s).
What have you seen as the biggest changes in the advertising industry since you started- especially with the digital world and social media coming along?
The more things change the more they stay the same. The fundamentals of marketing have remained the same. Right Message, Right Place, Right Time — and create value for the consumer in the process. The biggest challenge for the advertising industry and marketers alike, is that it is now an ‘always on’ business. Consumers can interact with brands, give feedback on their experiences and the consumers expectations are higher than they have ever been. I like to use a simple equation when I am talking to clients.
Happiness = Delivery – Expectations.
To keep customers and consumers happy you have to over deliver on their expectations. And it’s getting harder and harder to constantly over deliver.
You have recently been appointed European President of Y&R, what has been the secret to your success?
There’s no secret. There’s hard work. First in. Last out. Clients first, last and always. Most simply, care and nurture creativity.
Can you briefly tell us about your current role?
WOW, what a question. 33 Countries. 2000 employees. 48 offices. Over 500 clients. There’s nothing brief about it.
What drives you to succeed and what do you enjoy most about your job?
Fear of failure. It’s a negative/positive and for all the Greeks out there, I think it’s embedded in our culture; given that most of us are first or second generation immigrants. This fear of failure is what drives me. The responsibility of 2,000 employees and their family is a heavy burden to carry and definitely something that I don’t take lightly.
What advice would you give young people starting out in the advertising world?
It’s rewarding. It sucks. You work long hours. You get to shape culture. You are at the intersection of business and art. Now you either want it or you don’t. There’s no advice. Its full of juxtapositions. And for sure don’t get lost in the diggibabble details the industry spews out. Get in there because you are a “culture shaper” and you want to be at the forefront of creating ideas.
Where from Greece are your parents from?
Karpenisi and Agrinion are the two largest cities that they are close two. Ironically, they met and married in Australia.
Do you travel to Greece often and what are some of your favourite spots?
We are fortunate to live in Paris, so the last five years we have gone to Greece for the summer. Our last few destinations have included Spetses, Zakynthos and a boat. Greece is one of those places, where – when you decide to have a ‘favourite’ spot — you are also making a decision to not discover more ‘favourite spots’. This year, we will be making our way to Lefkada, Mykonos, Athens, and the mountains.
What part of the Greek culture/lifestyle do you identify with most?
It’s an interesting question. I have been outside of Australia for 19 years and moreover, outside the Greek culture for the same period, apart from two to three week bursts. The facts are, I read, write, speak Greek; it’s who I am. Ironically that’s not the part that defines what it means to be Greek. It is my family values. Having a strong family unit, irrespective of language, is important to me personally. And I think that comes from being raised in a household with strong family values. The way our Greek customs center on family is amazing. Whether it is Easter, Christmas, name days, whatever the occasion, Greeks congregate around family. Naturally, no formal invites, it just happens.
How important is it for you to try and pass on some Greek traditions to your children?
Being Greek is part of who I am. Being Australian is part of who I am. My wife is a New Yorker. So to answer your question it is important to pass on all of our collective traditions to our children. I feel that our children are blessed with having the best of all worlds; Greek, Australian, American, Italian. Our duty as parents is to make sure they are exposed to all aspects of our upbringing. For instance, they are learning French (after all we live in Paris), learning Greek, and of course English.
I have personal goals. For my family. My work is a means to achieve my personal goals. Today, we all get lost in ego, titles, and success. What I do, what drives me, is simply the things I do for my family.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]