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The Drum Digerati 2016: Who are the top 25 most influential individuals in UK digital?


By The Drum Team | Editorial

December 14, 2016 | 14 min read

Today The Drum reveals the Digerati, its annual celebration of the top achievers in the UK digital industry.

IBM's Matt Candy is our Digital Individual of the Year

IBM's Matt Candy is our Digital Individual of the Year

Established in 2013, The Drum's Digerati is now in its fourth year and shines a light on influential individuals working in the UK digital space.

After calling on our readers to tell us the people they have most admired this year, and then decide the shortlist, our editorial team and the Dadi Awards judges worked together to carefully curate the final 25.

And as announced at the Dadi Awards, IBM's Matt Candy has topped the list and is our digital individual of the year after a stellar year building IBM iX into one of the world’s largest digital agencies.

So now it's time to reveal who will be joining Candy in The Drum's Digerati 2016...

25. Andrew Henning, chief executive, Redweb

Andrew Henning

As well as running his own agency of over 160 people and £11.5m turnover, Henning has been one of the unsung heroes responsible for giving young people their break in the digital industry. As a member of the executive board at BIMA, Henning founded its Digital Day initiative which more than 10,000 young people have participated in. More recently, on his native south coast, he and his team have been responsible for launching Digital Wave, an annual Bournemouth conference to raise awareness of careers in the sector.

24. Natalie Bell, managing director, MG OMD

Natalie Bell

After eight years at Manning Gottlieb OMD, Bell was named managing director at the end of 2015. In her time with the agency, Bell has doubled the size of the digital team, created the highly awarded social and mobile departments, evolved the search offering and more recently introduced the tech innovation arm. She also works with some of the UK’s top brands including Virgin Media, John Lewis, Waitrose and Starbucks. Passionate about development and nurturing better digital talent, she also created the first agency-backed certificate in Digital Marketing ‘Platform’ in partnership with the IDM.

23. Dara Nasr, managing director, Twitter

Dara Nasr

It’s not been the easiest year for Twitter, which celebrated its 10th birthday in March but has failed to find a buyer despite being very publicly up for sale. Having been named UK managing director to succeed Bruce Daisley at the end of 2015, Nasr has led the social network’s British operation confidently despite the distraction of endless speculation over the site’s direction. "We appreciate that the beauty of the platform is the brevity and speed of interactions," Nasr said when Twitter relaxed its character limit earlier this year. As we head into 2017, and Twitter approaches adolescence, Nasr will play a fundamental role in communicating Twitter’s proposition – whatever that may ultimately end up looking like.

22. Lawrence Weber, managing partner, innovation, Karmarama

Lawrence Weber

A frequent contributor to these pages, and a figurehead for agency innovation as co-chair of the IPA’s BrandTech Group, Weber has been a vocal advocate of agencies treating startups like partners instead of production companies. This year, his agency Karmarama put that into practice by partnering with Creative England on a joint initiative to give £500,000 to develop briefs and innovative projects for brands. Of course, there was one story above all else that dominated the year for Weber, and that was Karmarama’s acquisition by Accenture Digital. While it remains to be seen how their distinct cultures will meld together, having the backing of a corporate powerhouse could propel Weber and Karmarama to even greater heights next year.

21. James Whatley, planning partner, innovation, Ogilvy & Mather Advertising

James Whatley

Having already made a name for himself as Ogilvy & Mather Advertising’s social media director and then digital director, Whatley rose to even greater prominence this year when he was made planning partner of innovation. Praised by chief strategy officer Kevin Chesters as having a “brilliant grasp of what it takes to stay relevant”, Whatley now has a remit of applying “new stuff” to client problems and has already demonstrated he has his finger on the pulse with his inventive use of chat bots in-house.

20. Nicolas Bidon, Global President, Xaxis

Nicolas Bidon

It is a symbol of the esteem with which Bidon is held within WPP that he has been selected for two high-profile promotions this year. In July, the global Plista chief executive was named EMEA CEO of Xaxis, the GroupM adtech unit it sits within. And then just last week, Bidon was promoted to Xaxis president, replacing Brian Gleason who is moving to become global chief executive of [m]Platform. Gleason said of his successor: “Nicolas has played an integral role in the Xaxis success story over the past four years.”

19. Robin Grant, global managing director, We Are Social

Robin Grant

A veteran of the digital marketing industry, Robin Grant has for the best part of a decade led the global expansion of We Are Social, the agency he co-founded in 2008, expanding into New York, London, Paris, Milan, Munich, Singapore, Sydney and São Paulo and working for clients including Adidas, Google, Samsung and Audi.

18. Clare Valoti, general manager UK, Snapchat

Claire Valoti

Claire Valoti is the former head of agency relations at Facebook and, since February 2016, the general manager for the UK at Snap Inc, the parent company of Snapchat, where she leads the platform’s first European sales office and has been instrumental in cementing the company’s reputation as a camera company and not just a messaging app with the launch of Spectacles.

17. Sarah Mansfield, vice president of global media, Europe and Americas, Unilever

Sarah Mansfield

Having joined Unilever in 2012 following 10 years at Barclays, Mansfield has spearheaded the adoption of programmatic trading at significant scale across some of the biggest brands in the UK, driving efficiencies in targeting, relevance and cost. She also had a major role in ensuring lessons learned from digital trading haven’t been siloed but embedded across the business to ensure agile thinking across all channels.

16. Matt Lodder, senior vice-president and managing director EMEA, R/GA

Matt Lodder

Senior vice-president and managing director for EMEA, Lodder brings 10 years of industry experience to his role as the driving force behind R/GA London’s long-term vision where he has overseen the development of new offerings from the agency including its Digital Lab and the Digital Production Studio, as well as playing a key role in nurturing the long-term client partnerships that have supported the office’s growth.

15. Karen Blackett, chairwoman, MediaCom UK

Karen Blackett

As chair of MediaCom and a government diversity adviser, Karen Blackett has continually pushed to change the marketing landscape. Promoted from the role of chief executive officer earlier this year, her achievements include establishing the agency’s apprenticeship programme for 18-24 years-olds, transforming MediaCom's diversification by evolving its employees make up from 11% to 20% black, Asian and minority ethnic, not to mention landing the £90m Tesco account in 2015.

14. Nishma Robb, head of ads marketing, Google UK

Nishma Robb

Robb is responsible for marketing Google, YouTube and Double Click to the UK marketing and agency communities. She has also led the diversity movement in the ad sector from within Google as the Chair of Women@Google in the UK, where she aims to drive change and inspire women to get involved in tech.

13. Andy Mihalop, head of Northern Europe, Facebook Atlas

Andy Mihalop

Mihalop continues to run regional sales in Europe for the world's most successful digital business, managing its agency/client partnerships and customer solution managers within Facebook.

12. Sarah Wood, co-founder and chief executive, Unruly

Sarah Wood

This was a watershed year for Unruly and Wood after the video and tech company was acquired by News Corp for £114m in 2015. This year also saw Wood and co-founder Scott Button both being awarded OBEs in the Queen's 90th Birthday honours list.

Another award was granted with Wood taking home Veuve Clicquot’s Business Woman of the Year Award in May.

11. Nigel Gilbert, vice president of strategic development EMEA, AppNexus

Nigel Gilbert

Gilbert leads adtech business AppNexus’ strategic development across Europe, and has spent the last 12 months helping to articulate the company's offering to the sell-side of the market. In particular this has involved warning the industry over centralizing media spend (ergo power) in leading platforms, which in turn concentrate media spend in two of its largest players.

All this has taken place against the backdrop of the company's reported preparations for an initial public offering (IPO), with recent reports claiming that it has filed paperwork valuing the company at up to $2bn, with a 2Q 17 floatation date expected.

10. Mel Edwards, EMEA chief executive, Wunderman

Mel Edwards

Edwards was promoted to run EMEA for Wunderman in 2015 and hired Pip Hulbert and Chris Daplyn to chief operating officer and managing director respectively, following the resignation of UK chief executive, Chris Perry at the start of the year.

In December it was announced that Wunderman had won the Grolsch account through its offices in Amsterdam, and it was also vying for the BT and EE CRM account at the time of writing.

9. Michael Islip, UK chief executive, DigitasLBi

Michael Islip

Michael Islip, who joined DigitasLBi in 2007, was promoted to the role of UK chief executive last year and was made responsible for steering key clients, and forging new brand partnerships while developing the Publicis-owned digital agency.

In September, Lost Boys was folded into DigitasLBi under Islip in an effort to move towards the 'Power of One model' introduced by the parent group.

8. Paul Frampton, chief executive, Havas Media Group UK & Ireland

Paul Frampton

Frampton was promoted to UK chief executive of Havas Media Group in February, having been credited with aligning the management teams for Havas Media Group’s Havas Media, Arena Media, Forward Media and Havas Sport and Entertainment brands alongside agencies DBi, AIS London and Arnold KLP.

At the time, Dominique Delport, global managing director of Havas Media Group, described him as "an energetic and visionary leader". Nigel Vaz, CEO EMEA and APAC, publicis.sapient

7. Nigel Vaz, CEO Publicis.Sapient EMEA & APAC

Nigel Vaz

In 2015, in addition to his role as European chief executive, Nigel Vaz was named global chief strategy officer for SapientNitro and was then handed the reigns to Razorfish in Europe earlier this year.

Subsequently the two businesses were officially brought closer together as SapientRazorfish globally by Publicis Groupe, with the European operation continuing to function under Vaz's watch.

Additionally, he serves on the management board of the Marketing Society and IPA Council.

6. Jay Stevens, chief revenue officer, Adform

Jay Stevens

Jay Stevens has worked for Jimmy Carter and launched MySpace in Europe, and in March left Rubicon Project, which he had helped build internationally over the previous five years, including taking it public in 2014 on the New York Stock Exchange.

In June he took up the role at Adform where he will lead the growth of the 10-year-old business in the UK, bringing with him Oliver Whitten as chief operating officer as he plans the business's further international expansion.

5 Tracy De Groose, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network

Tracy De Groose

Coming up for her third year as UK chief executive of Dentsu Aegis Network, De Groose has aimed to support the network's client needs, building Merkle's capacity and scale to meet their data and analytics capability, while she also launched fortysix, a creative agency staffed by digital natives from a deliberately diverse background.

The company also experienced 61% growth in programmatic across all media year-on-year, while iProspect hired Stefan Bardega as CEO and Jo Sutherland moved from Vizeum to become managing director of Fetch UK.

4. Mark Read, global chief executive, Wunderman

Mark Read

Last year's winner of the Digerati, Read continues to lead one of WPP's most important worldwide networks with 175 offices operating across 60 countries.

Read was appointed as chief executive of Wunderman in February 2015. He has worked for the agency’s parent network WPP since 2002 across various roles including director of strategy and board member, he previously served as a corporate development manager for the business from 1989 to 1995.

Read is also chairman of the Natural History Museum Digital Council.

3. Mark Sherwin, managing director, Accenture Interactive

Mark Sherwin Digerati

Mark Sherwin has spent more than 20 years in the digital industry, mostly agency-side.

In 2014 he made the leap to join Accenture's newly-formed digital business, and the past 12 months have seen him leading digital business transformations for clients including some of the UK's best known utilities, household telecoms and media giants.

The recent acquisition of Karmarama to bolster the creative sides of the traditionally corporate business will no doubt see Interactive improve its standing in the country's sector as a result from next year.

2. Lindsay Pattison, global chief executive, Maxus

Lindsay Pattinson

As the global boss of Maxus, Pattison has built a hugely impressive reputation while the business continues to be a major element in the success of GroupM overall.

While opening a new UK office in Edinburgh and continuing work for clients such as L'Oréal and BT, new business came most recently internationally in the shape of accounts with Perfetti Van Melle UK, Mirvac Residential.

She also works to champiom women within the marketing services industry through internal female leadership programme Walk the Talk within WPP and took up the position of non executive director of Chime Communications in January.

1. Matthew Candy, vice president & European leader, IBM Interactive Experience

Matthew Candy

Winner of The Drum's Dadi Individual of the Year prize is IBM Interactive's much liked European chief who has built IBM iX into one of the world’s largest digital agencies working with brands such as BP, Orange and Boots. He has also presided over award winning campaigns for Wimbledon, El Corte Ingles and Volkswagen.

As well as overseeing organic growth, he acquired three leading European agency groups – Aperto,, and Bluewolf – to join IBM iX.

Candy has also dedicated much of 2016 to nurturing the next generation of talent by helping build a career pathway for the young designers joining his agency.

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