The Agency Interview: 30 Questions for Tim Castree, Global CEO, MEC

August 8, 2017

MEC Offices

Tim Castree is the Global CEO of MEC. He’s worked everywhere from horse stables to Leo Burnett to MediaVest.  We asked him 30 questions; here are his 30 answers.

1.What did you have for breakfast this morning?

I had avocado toast. The unofficial national dish of Australia.

2. What’s the last great thing you binge watched and why?

The Handmaid’s Tale, because I’m a huge fan of Elisabeth Moss (and warnings about the dangers of extremism in all its forms!)

3. What’s the industry buzzword that annoys you the most these days?

None. I’m not sure why buzzwords have been getting such a bad rap.

4. What’s the last great book you read? Why was it great?

The Surrender Experiment, which to me was a book about the opportunity for co-existence between spirituality and commerce.

5. What’s your favorite vacation spot?

Martha’s Vineyard. By a country mile.

6. What’s the biggest change in the agency business since you started?

I can’t answer that because almost nothing looks the same as when I started.

7. How have you (and your agency) adapted?

We’ve made transformation our permanent state of being.

8. What will the newly merged Maxus/MEC offer to your clients?

Bound together by our purchase journey approach, we will help clients translate audience behaviors and insights into smart decisions today for a prosperous tomorrow.

9. How would you describe the culture at your agency?

We say we have people with PACE- Passionate, Agile, Collaborative & Entrepreneurial.  It happens to be very true, although ‘entrepreneurial’ is really tough to spell.

10. You have said that 68% of MEC’s leaders are women. Why is that important to you?

Diversity in all its form is important to us because it leads to better decision-making in our business and better outcomes for our clients. (Our most senior global executive team looks like it will be 25% women, so we aren’t declaring victory.)

11. What’s your proudest moment in business?

When we launched Earth Hour in Australia over 10 years ago. It is the most successful event ever for mass social action and it continues to go from strength-to-strength.

12. What’s your proudest moment in life?

Marrying my wife was the best decision I’ve ever made. The kids were pretty good too.

13. What’s the most important way the rise of social media, from YouTube to Facebook to LinkedIn, has changed the way companies reach their audiences?

It has forced us to talk to ‘consumers’ more as human beings and made us more accountable for our decisions.

14. Is content marketing an evolution or a revolution?

It’s a revolution and it’s permanent. The nature, number and forms of content we use to influence people on the purchase journey are growing.

15. What sort of jobs did you do growing up and what lessons did you learn that you still apply to your today?

When I was 12 years old I would shovel bags of horse manure in the morning in order to get a free riding lesson in the afternoon. There was a real-time relationship between effort and reward!

16. How has the availability of data changed marketing (or not)?

The digitization of direct marketing brought on by the internet has unleashed total change and made our craft infinitely more effective and interesting.

17. How do you use LinkedIn — for networking? For content marketing? Searching for talent? For sales prospecting? For staying abreast of news?

For me LinkedIn is both a business news channel and a way to find great people to hire. (FYI, you should all follow Rob Norman and Rishad Tobaccowala!)

18. How do you use LinkedIn advertising for your clients, and what’s working well for them?

LinkedIn is the preeminent content marketing platform to reach business decision makers and other high value audiences.

19. What is your top-secret superpower?

Work ethic and tenacity.

20. Who should play you in the movie version of your life?

Hopefully somebody much better looking and with more hair. (Do you have Matt Damon’s number?)

21. If you weren't at Maxus/MEC, what would you be doing?

Farming.

22. What is your favorite cartoon character and why?

Bart Simpson. I love a bit of mischief.

23. What do you have an irrational hatred for?

Low standards.

24. Best movies ever. Go:

Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society. Maybe it’s a Robin Williams thing.

25. What did you want to be when you grew up?

A veterinarian. 

26. What's your most annoying habit?

Saying the same thing twice. Honestly, very often I say exactly the same thing, twice in a row.

27. How long would you survive a zombie apocalypse?

If the kids were with me, the zombies wouldn’t stand a chance.

28. What’s not on your LinkedIn profile?

I don’t believe there is anything about my secret birthmark.

29. You have spoken out against federal budget cuts to SNAP, aka food stamps. Why is that important to you?

Basic nutrition is foundational to human potential. A hungry kid can’t score well on a math test. It irks me that I live in the richest country in the world but 42 million of its citizen’s struggle to feed themselves. I hate that we spend $100 million on a single fighter jet, but don’t pay active soldiers enough money to adequately feed their families.

30. What’s the best thing that’s going to happen during the rest of 2017?

Other than my vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Lindsay and I are going to finalize the merger of Maxus and MEC. We’re pretty fired-up.

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