The 4A’s is committed to sharing the thoughts of some of the most important leaders in the ad industry. In this edition of our 5 Questions for … series, we chat with Richard Ward, CEO and President of 22squared. Ward has more than 30 years of agency and tech management experience, and prior to joining 22squared, he worked on the team that ushered in an era of explosive growth at AOL, most recently serving as Vice President of Global Agency Partnerships. He also managed global business development for eBay, helped launch the Internet startup search company Infoseek and began his career at FCB/San Francisco.
1) What’s the biggest challenge or opportunity facing the ad industry right now?
The biggest challenge is justifying the value of creative solutions that can’t be found anywhere else.
2) What is the single most significant change you need to make in your agency in the next 12 months?
Speed to market. We’ve spent the last five years figuring out how to best organize around content. Now we need to speed it up.
3) What products/services/unique skills do ad agencies offer that guarantee the industry’s survival for another 100 years?
We’re an industry spawning the redefinition of creativity in the colliding worlds of data, technology and media. Clients often struggle with this.
4) What attributes do you look for in your next generation of leaders/managers?
The most successful leaders operate in a very horizontal structure, meaning that they are “doers” as well as “leaders”. Our future leaders tend to be intellectually curious, passionate, selfless people that think “we” over “me.”
5) If you weren’t working in advertising, what would you be doing as a career?
Probably teaching, maybe at the college level. I’ve been thinking about a course called “Managing Messiness”, focusing on how to manage the creative process in an environment of total chaos.