Staff Reporters
Nov 18, 2020

40 Under 40 2020: Katherine Williams, WPP AUNZ

Long experience in crisis-management helped Katherine Williams guide WPP AUNZ’s Queensland Group through 2020. No one familiar with her history of success at MediaCom could have been surprised.

40 Under 40 2020: Katherine Williams, WPP AUNZ
Top-tier talent transforming APAC media and marcomms 

Katherine Williams 

Queensland Group general executive officer 

While the Covid-19 virus outbreak overturned workplace structures, WPP AUNZ Queensland was one of the first groups in the market to transition successfully to 100% remote working. This is the perk of having a highly experienced crisis management leader at the helm. Katherine Williams cool-headed response and clear guidance amidst a worldwide pandemic are honed from years of managing crises for the government.

In the past 18 years, Williams’ career highs include the delivery of major government advertising campaigns on matters of public safety, preventative health, international recruitment, trade development, and tourism. Her crisis management acumen was especially valuable in her work during natural disasters, disease outbreaks and counter-terrorism planning. The communications doyen has also shouldered the management of onsite media requirements for royal visits and leading strategic engagement for key legislation changes.

Williams shifted gears to take on a managing director role with MediaCom Brisbane in 2016. Within the last year, her achievements in MediaCom include over-delivering on year-on-year revenue growth – hitting 19.5% instead of the targeted 10%. Under her leadership, staff turnover was capped below 20% against a target of 30%.

In her zeal to build an equitable and performance-based culture, Williams fiercely marshalled efforts to change the gender representation of specialists in MediaCom Brisbane, which was skewed towards men. This drove a marked increase of women in the specialist fields within the agency. 

In March this year, Williams was promoted to the position of Queensland Group General Executive Officer WPP AUNZ, while remaining with MediaCom as Chairman. Merely months into her new role, the egalitarian powerhouse wasted no time to set benchmarks for gender ratios at mid-level to senior management, reassessed equal employment hiring practices and conducted assessments on pay parity across the group.

Ever the avid educator, Williams also co-designed a national client leadership program. It includes a training program she personally developed to mentor staff on stakeholder management and issues negotiation, called ‘Grace Under Fire’—which also aptly sums up Williams’ reputation in the industry.

Top-tier talent transforming APAC media and marcomms 


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