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“Always elevate your team ahead of yourself”

Vancouver, November 15th, 2018

With offices in New York, Toronto and Vancouver, Major Tom is a full-service digital agency that’s been purpose-built to help organizations thrive in an increasingly complex landscape. It has a team of more than 86 specialists covering the full spectrum of strategy, marketing, development, and creative.

The agency has recently been subject to big changes, with the appointment of Lyn Bryan as the new CEO and Miles Sellyn as the new President. Both will seek to take Major Tom on a growth and development path, dealing with new challenges such as the reorganization of the firm’s structure and culture.

In an interview with TIA, Bryan and Sellyn explain the details of their new roles, looking back at their past experiences and their perspectives for the positions. At the same time, they looked at the future of the agency and the challenges ahead.

What has been your career path up to date and what drove you to your current position?

LYN: My career started out in design and moved into digital marketing almost by accident to be honest. I was looking for work when I first moved to Canada from the UK and started working in marketing and found a new passion. My journey has progressed through many roles; SEO and analytics strategist, project manager, project team lead, sales and sales management. I have worked many roles within the agency which certainly helps me understand the challenges faced by our team.

MILES: Similar to Lyn, my path has been one that borders on accidental. I skipped my university graduation on a whim, went to a music festival, and met one of the co-founders of Drive Digital, the creative digital agency that was one half of the merger that formed Major Tom. A few short months later, I started at Drive and was leading the team there about a year later. Much like Lyn, my path also touched many parts of the business, including project management, sales, and strategy. I think one of the reasons we work so well together is that we’re both able to consider how something touches all aspects of the agency before recommending any solutions.

Could you share your highlights and best moments in your previous positions?

LYN: We worked with HSBC Canada for a long time. At that stage they were my main client. The engagement and results with our agency grew rapidly and the account was a huge win for us as we grew from a team of 15-25 at that time. I have been with the agency since we were a team of 6. Having witnesses and been a part of the growth to date has been a wonderful experience.

MILES: We’ve been lucky enough to win a number of major design awards for our work, including Website of the Day from the CSS Design awards multiple times and Best UX at the Vancouver User Experience Awards. While the hardware is nice, the proudest moment for me was seeing how elated the entire team, not just the people who worked on those projects, was at having their work recognized.

What are the lessons you have learnt?

BOTH: Always elevate your team ahead of yourself. Allow great people the space and autonomy they need to flourish. We both believe in the concept of servant leadership as a way to get the most out of our people.

How are you planning to address your new positions?

LYN: We recently started implementing EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System). After our merger and rebrand we needed to address our organizational structure and processes to fit with a bigger more diverse new team. The implementation will be an 18-month journey to mastery, and facilitating this will be one of my top priorities.

MILES: My main priority is to continue to nourish the great aspects of our culture and establish new norms as we grow the team in numbers and across our offices. Beyond that, I am focused on working with Lyn to define and achieve Major Tom’s long-term strategy, as well as work closely with our partners to develop their overarching digital strategies.

How will you divide your time and what will be your main focus?

LYN: My time will be split across many areas of the business; however sales and finance are areas of particular focus for me. We have a fantastic leadership team that I will continue to work with to achieve our goals.

MILES: Like Lyn, I also have my fingers in many areas of the business, but leading client strategy engagements and providing strategic insight to our team is where I hope to spend most of my time in the next 12 months.

What do you think will be your main challenges?

BOTH: Our goals are lofty and will require a lot of discipline and energy to achieve. We require significant growth out of eastern Canada. We don’t have the same brand equity in the east as we do in the west. We need to impact and change that over the next few years. Additionally, maintaining our culture as we scale and evolving it where needed will be an exciting challenge to overcome.

Do you focus more on problem-solving or opportunity creation?

BOTH: The agency went through a huge transition this past summer. We rebranded, merged two agencies together, renovated and moved into a new space in our Vancouver HQ office. With all that said problem solving has been a big part of our everyday. We would both like to find more balance across both problem-solving and opportunity creation as we settle into all of the recent changes. One of the great things about our partnership is that we can lighten the load on each other when required to free one of us to use our unique skill sets to the greatest benefit of Major Tom.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

LYN: I have a passion for real estate and investing. There’s a part of me that would love to explore this beyond what I can do on a personal level.

MILES: If only I had known that playing video games would one day be such a potentially lucrative profession, my life would look much different and I’d have arthritis in my hands.

What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

LYN: Be patient! You can’t always keep everyone happy. Your job is to impact the overall health of the organization – always keep that in mind when making any decisions.

MILES: Trust your instincts – if you’ve been given the opportunity to lead, it is most likely because you have a talent for it. Don’t be scared to be your authentic self: it’s what got you there in the first place.

Thanks Lyn and Miles!

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