My Media Hero: Sue Unerman, MediaCom

Sue Unerman is Chief Transformation Officer at MediaCom. Author of  The Glass Wall, Sue has an advice column in Grazia and is co-host of the MediaCom Connected Podcast.  Her first book on marketing “Tell the Truth, Honesty is your most powerful marketing tool” was published in 2012.  Campaign magazine called it “one of the most influential marketing books of 2012.

Who is your media hero?

Everyone who has ever spoken truth to power.  

What have they done to win hero status in your eyes?

Too many organisations operate on the basis that everyone should do as they are told.  They perhaps even instil fear of challenging the boss in order that things get done efficiently.  

It isn’t easy to break through this.  Yet hundreds of people do.  Some of them take ages to build up the courage.  Others can’t not challenge because it makes them too frustrated to stay quiet.  

How has this driven media?

Some take their opinions away and set up a challenger business to old school practices.  

Sometimes that’s finding new and better ways of doing things in their own organisation.  Sometimes it’s challenging cultural norms to ensure that everyone feels welcome in a diverse environment.  

Either way they are my heroes, they are who makes this industry great and they are why it will continue to evolve and survive.  

What is the biggest challenge in media we need another hero to solve?

You only have to scan the headlines of any trade publication to see at a glance that diversity at senior levels is still poor.

Diversity drives success.  Why haven’t the efforts of the last few years yielded more change?  Because of culture.

Without a culture of belonging in every organisation there will be no real change.  This has to be led from the top and from every seat.  With no more bystanding.  No more making anyone feel other because they look sound or feel different.  

For our industry to survive we need to deliver this at scale and in every deep crevice of every organisation, especially those newer Goliath businesses who are still lacking in diversity yet have so much power.  

What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in media?

I’m very proud to be part of the team at MediaCom who have grown the business from a tiny buying shop into a market leader.  

On a very personal basis it is overcoming my extreme introversion to speak out on issues that matter both in terms of business strategy and culture.

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