“Tech can be the manner in which people discover culture and explore their passions meaningfully” — ad:tech London speaker Eleni Sarla talks to Techerati about top-tier leadership and the rising role of technology in arts and entertainment
Earlier this year Eleni Sarla was promoted to CEO of Target Media Group, a Havas division dedicated to arts and entertainment communication, having joined Havas Group in 2017. Ahead of her presentation at ad:tech London in September, Techerati sat down with the self-described culture vulture to discover how she is finding the “ultimate leadership role”, why the born-creative decided to move from a media agency to an arts and entertainment specialist, and how technology is being used to heighten one-to-one cultural experiences.
Tell us about your career so far. Lawyer to marketing agency CEO in a different hemisphere, it’s an interesting journey…
We are all driven by an inner voice. Sometimes we listen to it, sometimes we don’t. I was never really an active listener when it came to my inner voice. I certain knew what I loved to do – and absorbing the arts and culture was something that I found very early in life: music, the theatre, exhibitions. So when moments in life come about that force reconsideration you get a chance to make some bolder choices.
I chose creativity when my legal career turned out to be dry and humourless. I chose Amsterdam when Australia started to feel small and disconnected from a bigger global view. Then I chose media because it stretched my thinking, and finally a combination of my business and personal life came together when I was given the chance to lead the Target Group.
It’s approaching a year into your new CEO role. How has the transition to the top job been, and what have you learnt so far?
It was certainly a transition. As a woman, you sit patiently (or not so patiently) waiting to be tapped up for the ultimate leadership role. You are too concerned about being on the shortlist to think about what you are actually going to do when you get there. So there was a huge dose of humility that came with taking on the task.
I ascertained quickly that it was a different one. The task is defining the culture of business. Its strategy. This is a process of learning, trying things, succeeding in some, failing in others. But always being clear in where you are going so that those around you know their role in helping the business get there.
Tell us about Target Media Group – what does the company do, and how does it fit into the larger Havas village?
The name of the company doesn’t really fit our capabilities. We are a specialist Art and Entertainment communications group which includes all facets of Marketing for the Arts and Entertainment industry.
We are specialists in marketing, design, PR, content production, media, data and analytics and most importantly we understand the ins and outs of the entertainment business: film, TV, live arts, gaming, publishing and music. It only made sense that a business owned by Vivendi, the world’s largest arts and entertainment group, would also own a specialist arts and entertainment agency.
We are also a microcosm of the village model — a model that taps into the needs of our clients and creates bespoke teams with their needs in mind. Whether creative or media, we put the right people together, irrespective of the false divides that our industry has created and without the expensive overheads. One lead, one team, one client vision.