Where can you find your marketing superstar?

Your agency’s next media planning or creative rock star maybe hiding in the least expected of backgrounds and industries.

Tang Seok Hian, talent management lead for Starcom MediaVest in Southeast Asia, said that the agency got creative in the past couple of years, diving into new talent pools like engineering, financial institutions and the IT industry to look for “whole-brained” people – applicants who are not just creative and passionate about marketing (right-brained), but also good with numbers, analytical and business-savvy (left-brained).

“The advertising & media industry needs a lot more critical thinkers to provide business solutions to our clients so in addition to marketing schools, we head to scientific disciplines like engineering and info-comm,” she shares with Marketing.

In as little as 10 years, Tang said that media planning rapidly evolved from a department booking tri-media placements into a sophisticated industry of its own.

With the digital tsunami and rise of mobile, she said that it shouldn’t be a surprise that roles in media agencies are also changing and, not to mention, more trickier to fill.

In the Philippines, Tang said that digital, analytics and integrated media roles remain the toughest to find while digital specialist roles such as mobile, digital production and ad operations are for the region in general.

She explains that it is getting tougher not because there are not enough talent around, as most HR executives will say, but due to lack of people with the right set of skills who can do the job well.

“It is the skill set shifting game that is creating/causing the gap. The shift is happening at a faster rate than the developing of talent so the gap is indeed serious, especially for Southeast Asia, emerging markets where we expect tremendous growth in the economies.”

SMV had notable success in Malaysia with the strategy. After being digital director from 2006 to 2012, the agency welcomed Kausern Hieu back for a bigger, albeit surprising role as talent and transformation director in Malaysia– a far cry for the former digital expert. Another is Bharad Ramesh, a former telecom analyst from Frost & Sullivan before joining the advertising world as head of trading for Southeast Asia in VivaKi.

“Students in these technical faculties get training skewed towards left-brain. If they are also passionate in marketing and media, they tend to have a right-brain inclination – which makes them come more naturally whole-brained.”

As media agencies continues to evolve, Tang said that roles will remain highly whole-brained in the next decade. In order to future-proof your media agency business, she recommends thinking out of the marketing box and stay as creative as the industry to find, attract and keep precious talent.

“I think the academic qualification is secondary. It will definitely not just come from marketing degrees – now or future.”