Media is a people business, and if the winners of Media Week's 30 under 30 competition 2008 are any indication, then the industry has a promising future.
Entries poured in from all sectors of commercial media - from magazine classified ad executives to fast-rising strategists at media agencies - making it a hard task for the judges to assess the relative merits of 100 varied and impressive entries.
However, what united our 30 winners, as profiled in alphabetical order over the following pages, was their commitment to media and a sense that they are heading for the top. A few entries jumped out at the judges; others were scrutinised more carefully on criteria including rapid career progression, demonstrable results, success in winning new business and, last but not least, personality.
Judge Kathleen Saxton, partner at executive search firm Grace Blue, welcomed the contestants' "confidence backed up by evidence". She says: "It was fascinating to see how it is already possible to identify who will be responsible for the direction of the communications business over the next decade. Age is no barrier to talent: if you are good enough, you are old enough."
Emma Clarke, head of media sales at recruitment company Major Players, which hosted the winners' photo shoot, is also encouraged to see so much emerging talent. She says: "These are definitely the rising stars of the future and I am sure they all have long and successful careers ahead of them."
One of the 30 will go on to be named Rising Star of the Year at the Media Week Awards in October. But if you haven't been chosen this year, please keep an eye out for the entry form for 2009 - next year, it could be you.
1. JESSICA ARMSTRONG, 29 client director, Posterscope
Armstrong, who was promoted from account manager to client director two weeks ago, has managed Coca-Cola's £30m business for three years. Her presentation of the out-of-home strategy in the 2007 review for Coke helped Posterscope and Vizeum retain the account. Other recent pitch wins include Time Out and Disney.
She also won Posterscope's Life Planning awards 2008 and helped increase the out-of-home spend from HBOS by 72% in 2006-07. Client service director Nick Davis says: "Jess is one of the most passionate, enthusiastic people I have worked with."
2. JOANNE ASHDOWN, 28, creative director, Heat and Closer, Bauer
Ashdown has used the brand essence of her two titles to devise successful creative solutions that sit well within her products. Testament to the excellent relationships she has cultivated with editorial and client is her securing of the largest Unilever sponsorship for Closer and a record Procter & Gamble booking for Heat.
Ashdown also worked on the first cross-media owner creative for Bauer, with MindShare, Ford, Channel 4 and Yahoo, on the Bite project. As former Heat editor Mark Frith says: "Joanne performs miracles on a daily basis."
3. DAVINA BARKER, 29, commercial development a/c manager, IDS
Barker is at the forefront of IDS' developing platforms, taking an active role in the company's first multi-platform deal involving broadcast, online, mobile and video-on-demand.
She negotiated £500K of additional marketing to Living as part of the Vauxhall Tigra deal, and the spend on her portfolio in the first six months of 2008 is up 13% on the whole of 2007. Guy Martin, IDS associate director of commercial development, says: "Davina has created fantastic relationships with her agencies, which have translated into a very impressive new-business performance."
4. AMY BOWLER, 23, classified advertising manager, IPC
At 23, Bowler is rising fast at IPC, promoted to classified ad manager on Country Life and winning two classified sales awards this year.
Bowler impressed the judges with her "gold standard for calls". In 2007, she made 3,783 calls, booked 2,624 ads and exceeded her new-business target by 73%. Added to this is her role in increasing Country Life's online revenue 376% year on year, and generating £120K of revenue through school supplements. Her manager, Steve Mitchell, describes her as "the consummate sales professional".
5. LUKE BOZEAT, 29, board director, MediaCom
Since joining MediaCom as a graduate planner in 2001, Bozeat has been promoted four times, rising to his current position of board director last year.
In that time, none of his accounts has repitched its business, with Volkswagen consolidating its digital media into MediaCom, and he has twice been seconded to the US to help win the $500m (£250m) Volkswagen USA business and the Staples global pitch. Managing partner Nigel Robinson testifies: "Luke has shown great talent and tremendous dedication, constantly delivering the highest calibre of work."
6. Mark Brogan, 29, head of TV, Mediaedge:cia Manchester
Brogan has helped secure £16m of new business for MEC Manchester over the past year, including Carcraft, MEN Media and Princes Foods, whose marketing director Neil Brownbill praised Brogan's "flawless implementation".
Brogan was selected for MEC's Rising Talent programme, and is "determined to become a leader of the future".
Managing director Mick Style confirms Brogan is indeed one to watch: "Mark embodies all that is fantastic about our industry - he is creative, dynamic, fiercely ambitious and bloody good fun."
7. LE'NISE BROTHERS, 28, head of interactive, PHD Rocket
Brothers is intensely passionate about all things digital - so much so that her friends call her "Geek Girl" - and this is key to her success in building Rocket's new digital division, after being poached from MindShare to head the team last June.
On day one, she was handed a blank piece of paper and 12 client briefs; since then she has transformed Rocket's digital work, building a team of six "digital stars" and creating a bespoke planning and buying process that has helped treble Rocket's digital spend over the past 12 months.
8. ANDY CHANDLER, 29, senior account manager, Wild Tangent
Chandler joined WPP's fast-growing games network Wild Tangent this month and was hired for his "innate knowledge of all aspects of digital advertising". Most recently, he worked at Microsoft, where he was nominated as one of the company's top three account managers in Europe, thanks to managing complex multinational accounts such as SonyEricsson, which ran 600 ads across 11 countries. Chandler will now help jump-start Wild Tangent's business as it expands into Europe. Manager Bill Clifford says: "Andy is poised to be a major player in digital media."
9. JANE CHRISTIAN, 29, director, business science, MediaCom
Christian was promoted to director of MediaCom's business science department aged 28, and co-leads a team of 32 to provide clients with full accountability for their marketing budgets.
Her team's cutting-edge econometrics have won new business such as Boots, which uses the division's analytics to understand the short and long-term implications of its advertising. Senior director Clare Newman says: "Jane is a rare talent. She is extremely intelligent and analytically minded, yet has the ability to provide practical solutions to drive her clients' business forward."
10. AMBER COLEY, 28, head of online advertising sales, UKTV
Coley was headhunted for her first job at Auto Trader Digital before she sat her university finals, and her subsequent career progression has been equally fast.
After two years at Auto Trader, where she managed the WAP and digital TV services and day-to-day online marketing spend, Coley moved to UKTV, where she has been promoted twice in two years, becoming the youngest head of department. Over her three years at UKTV, She has launched five e-commerce services and has increased online revenue by 200%.
11. TIM COOK, 28, group account director, Cheeze
Cook started his career as tea boy in the Ipswich headquarters of digital agency Cheeze.
After a spell at MSN launching adCenter to the UK, he rejoined Cheeze to lead its London division, managing global digital marketing accounts.
Cook, who is a member of the IPA Search Group committee, was the first UK specialist to run search campaigns in the Middle East, and he expanded an online direct response campaign for a leading UK car rental firm into a global initiative that ran in more than 20 markets worldwide.
12. ANDREW DAVIS, 29, marketing & content producer, MySpace
Headhunted from BBC Radio1 Xtra in 2006, Davis was one of the first employees to join the British arm of MySpace. Since then, he has successfully brought the UK urban community online, thanks to his development of www.myspace.com/thehookup, which now has more than 40,000 friends.
Further successes include engineering viral campaigns with celebrities to generate worldwide media coverage, securing sponsorship deals with major brands such as Reebok and the BBC, and negotiating in-game product placement for MySpace.
13. GRACE DAWSON, 29, advertisement director, Glamour
Despite a brief sabbatical at Harper's Bazaar, Dawson has climbed the ranks at Glamour since 2001, landing her "dream job" of advertisement director in February.
Simon Kippin, publishing director, describes Dawson's tenacious approach to expanding client accounts and generating new revenue streams as "terrier-like" and predicts she will be "one of the major figures in publishing before too long".
He says: "She is one of those rare beings who can succeed in the most difficult of briefs, while retaining a sense of fun. A true Conde Nast Swan."
14. MATT DEEGAN, 2, creative director, Folder Media
In just 12 months, Folder Media has transformed itself from an unknown start-up into one of the radio industry's fastest-growing companies.
It has won nine of the 12 digital radio multiplexes advertised by Ofcom, making the company's MuxCo subsidiary the UK's third-largest digital radio licensee.
Deegan, co-head of the company with Gregory Watson, is involved with several industry bodies and has developed Folder's growing radio consultancy services, as well as advising radio stations on new ways of working with social media.
15. CHRIS DICKER, 23, senior sales executive, IPC
Dicker started at IPC aged 18 and shot through the ranks of the company's classified division. At 21, he became IPC's youngest classified team leader on the men's and sports titles, overseeing a team of four.
In 2006, he joined IPC Ignite, where he increased market share by 5% within 12 months, brought 43 new brands to the Ignite portfolio and, after adding online to his remit, sold Ignite's biggest online display campaign, worth £100K. Jo Cronk, group media manager at PHD Media, confirms: "Chris is an outstanding rep."
16. IAN EDWARDS, 29, strategy director, Mediaedge:cia
Edwards, who was promoted to the MEC board of directors this year, is "one of those rare breeds", according to chief strategy officer Stuart Sullivan Martin, who describes him as "an exceptional all-rounder who everyone wants to work with".
Not only has Edwards played a central role in winning six pitches over the past 18 months, he also wrote the strategy that saw England go smoke-free on 1 July 2007. He has completed the IPA Excellence Diploma, winning the individual prize for attaining the most distinctions across its six core modules.
17. MICHELLE EVERITT, 27, senior digital account manager, FT.com
Since joining the Financial Times a year ago, Everitt has increased digital spend from non-traditional advertisers such as the Open University and has persuaded Scottish Widows and Alfa Romeo to explore modern advertising formats such as mobile and video. Stuart Colman, head of digital, Europe, describes Everitt as "an exceptionally talented salesperson". He says: "Her ability to read situations, analyse the requirements, build a creative solution and deliver it in a coherent, consistent manner is at a level I would expect of someone with many more years' experience."
18. SEAN HITZELBERGER, 29, senior sales executive, Radio Times Brand Solutions
Four years ago, Hitzelberger was working on a building site and had never even considered a career in media. However, since joining the BBC as a classified sales executive, he has been promoted five times and is now working on one of the most challenging positions in the department.
Hitzelberger has won BBC Magazines substantial new business usually reserved for the national press. And his deal with a leading car manufacturer delivered BBC Magazines' highest response to a competition, with more than 39,000 entries.
19. MATTHEW HOOK, 29, head of strategy, Vizeum UK
Hook is a bright talent in communications planning, acting as the strategic lead on all Vizeum's major pitches, with an impressive 70% success rate. Career highlights include winning 20th Century Fox, retaining the Coca-Cola accounts and winning industry awards from the IPA and Coca-Cola. Former joint managing director Matt Andrews says: "Hooky has long been identified by us as one of the sharpest thinkers in the communications business. We believe he is one of a handful who will shape the way things are done in the future."
20. GREG JAMES, 29, head of branded content, Cake Group
James is responsible for "some of the best work ever done in the area of branded content" and has helped turn Cake into one of the most prolific producers of advertiser-funded programmes.
He led last year's 60-minute TV documentary around Vodafone's sponsorship of Formula One, viewed by 40 million people worldwide on TV, online and mobile. Cake partner Adrian Pettett says: "Greg is one of the brightest people I have worked with. His ability to break down a client brief and come up with tailored solutions that are both creative and results-driven is second to none."
21. JULIET KENNARD, 29, head of Insight, Times Media
Kennard has built up such a good reputation in her six years at News International that the company sponsored her MBA at Columbia Business School.
She currently manages a team of eight analysts and planners, who recently introduced a company-wide econometrics project to optimise marketing spend, as well as The People customer segmentation programme. She was elected to the Times Publishing Committee this year, the only member under 30. Her ambition to run her own media company also makes her one to watch.
22. HANNAH KIMUYU, 29, pay-per-click director, Greenlight
Kimuyu has been working in paid search for more than seven years and leads a team of account managers and analysts to provide PPC strategy to some of Greenlight's largest clients, including American Express and Procter & Gamble.
She has managed new business pitches, winning major accounts such as Hearst Digital, Radisson Edwardian, Mr & Mrs Smith and VideoJug, and has launched online strategies for Pampers and Oral B.
Kimuyu is also an emerging industry thought leader and delivers keynote speeches and search training workshops.
23. PAUL LOWREY, 26, advertising account manager, Carlton Screen Advertising
Lowrey is a well-liked ambassador for cinema advertising who was fast-tracked to account manager at Carlton Screen Advertising aged 25.
After just one year as account manager, he has delivered a number of innovations, such as booking Reckitt Benckiser's first cinema campaign, and installing catwalks and fashion shows in cinemas around the release of Sex and the City. He helped establish OMD as the number one spending cinema agency and has made Coors Brewers the number one beer advertiser. (Source: Nielsen Media Research)
Account director Jill Brook says: "Paul's contacts always speak highly of him and he is a pleasure to work with."
24. KATHERINE MARLOW, 26, interactive sales controller, ITV
Marlow, who has been working at ITV's interactive department for seven years, oversees the running of more than 20 interactive ad campaigns each month, as well as major interactive sponsorships such as The X Factor and the Rugby World Cup.
She pioneered ITV's Ad Innovations project to forecast the future of TV advertising, and launched an interactive vouchering initiative with such promising initial results for Harvey's that the brand signed up for a year. Marlow is also a regular speaker at industry events.
25. Harry Owen, 28, agency sales manager, City AM
Owen was one of the first people on sales director Jeremy Slattery's "shopping list" when he set up the sales team on the launch of City AM - and he quickly established himself as one of the best agency salespeople on the floor.
Three years later, having got to grips with the life of a City trader, Owen manages a team of four, who represent more than 33% of company revenues, and he has personally generated more than £4m in advertising deals. Being "entirely driven by a passion for press, sales and business", he should go far.
26. LOUISE PILTER, 29, national sales strategy group head, Primesight
Pilter adapted quickly to outdoor after starting her career in press and cinema and, although she is Primesight's youngest manager, she has "never looked out of her depth".
Equally comfortable with the creative and trading sides of her role, Pilter is responsible for half the company's revenue through agencies and poster specialists, and has built strong relationships with clients. Lisa Ingles, account director at MEC Global, says: "You know Louise will deliver, and that it will be on time and on brief."
27. PAUL SILTON, 27, account director, Diffiniti
Silton is Diffiniti's youngest account director and is responsible for two major insurance clients, with annual billings worth £7m.
Over the past year, he has encouraged a traditional direct response client to run its first online brand campaign and to undertake a data planning project designed to analyse the impact of integrated campaigns on telephone calls and web traffic. Rob Horler, managing director, says: "Having worked closely with Paul, I believe he has the potential to achieve great success within the media industry."
28. DAN WHITMARSH, 26, media manager, MediaCom
Whitmarsh's connection with the Audi brand and its consumers is unmatched, prompting Audi's marketing director Peter Duffy to describe him as: "The most talented young marketeer I have encountered across any of our agencies."
He also impressed the judges with his strategies for some challenging pitches - not least an anti-baldness shampoo - and his rock-solid account management. Fiona Walford, director at MediaCom, says: "Dan has the ability and brain of a far more experienced practitioner. He also brings a smile to our faces with his sometimes unusual shirt choices."
29. MARIE WILLIAMS, 27, account director, Kinetic
Williams is responsible for £10m-worth of business at Kinetic and has delivered growth of 41% across her accounts over the past year.
She was a key figure in the successful £20m Vodafone pitch, negotiated some of the first bookings following the launch of Kinetic Mobile, and plays an important role in Kinetic's internal and agency training programmes.
Williams also won the Nabs Rep of the Year accolade in 2007, and has applied for an MSc in international business to develop her career still further.
30. NICOLA WILLIAMS, 28, national sales group head, CBS Outdoor
Williams has climbed the CBS Outdoor ladder with ease over the past nine years and is now responsible for more than £90m of annual revenues and a team of six.
Her attention to detail and ability to over-deliver, combined with an "absolute faith" in her role and her products, has won her high praise from clients. Gill Reid, board director at MediaCom, says: "If only more media owners were like her."
Williams is also considered "absolutely key" by her managers. National sales director Peter Charlton says: "Nobody knows CBS Outdoor better."