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What do they do all day? 303 MullenLowe chief strategy officer Matt Oakley explains

By Matt Oakley | Chief strategy officer

August 30, 2023 | 4 min read

As part of our series demystifying the many job titles that make up adland, 303 MullenLowe Perth’s Matt Oakley explains what chief strategy officers really do when they’re sat at their desks.

matt oakley

303 MullenLowe’s Matt Oakley explains his role / 303 MullenLowe

A chief strategy officer is a figurehead for bringing new thinking into an agency. I genuinely believe that strategy can be the tide that lifts all agency boats.

I’ve always considered strategy playing a vital role in what I’d call the holy trinity of creative, business management and strategy. Add into that the media and production teams, it’s a really potent mix of creative and strategic minds. Diversity of thought is vital to the way we do things in Perth and we always try and bring an unconventional perspective to how we resolve business problems, which in turn leads to exceptional creative and outcomes for our clients.

I’m coming to around the 10-year mark in my life as a strategist. I’ve held pure strategy roles for seven years but also worked as a hybrid strategist/suit before that.

Rather unconventionally, I have a marketing degree. When I first started working in agencies, it was hugely beneficial to put some of that to use but in my early days as an account manager I was on the periphery of most strategic conversations. The more experienced and valued I became, the more I leaned into that knowledge and eventually I made the leap into strategy, which for me was always more creatively interesting and fulfilling.

I’m not sure that there’s ever a ‘typical day,’ but my responsibilities can be grouped into five areas. Firstly, setting the business’s strategic vision and ensuring we’re set up to deliver against it. I work as part of the management team to ensure strategic excellence is upheld across the agency.

I lead the strategy team and manage our global partner network. I work closely with the MD and head of business management to support the growth of the business through the development of existing clients and leading pitches for new ones. And I still manage to get ‘on the tools’ and lead projects across the agency.

Part of my remit at 303 Mullen Lowe is to (re)build our strategic offering and, as such, there’s just a team of two at the moment. Technically speaking, and based on the org chart, 303 Mullen Lowe’s MD is my ‘boss,’ but we work so collaboratively and our hierarchy is so flat that it’s never really felt that way.

Having a strategy representative at a board/senior leadership level shows we want to be a true partner for our clients as it ensures that the decisions we make as an agency (what we do and how we do it) are related to the challenges we see brands facing. And for recruiting the next generation of talent, it shows that you take the discipline seriously as a business and will be able to nurture their ability.

In previous lives, I’ve had up to seven direct reports. That being said, I work closely with our business management team and CCO in developing strategic planning solutions for our clients and I have the extra luxury of collaborating both nationally with our team in Sydney and globally with CSOs from across the MullenLowe network.

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