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Isobar, thinking big at a personal level

Amsterdam, December 13th, 2018

Isobar is a global agency with 6,500 employees in 85 locations across 45 markets. Its mission is to transform businesses, brands and people’s lives with the creative use of digital.

Working across different cultures and countries requires a strong foundation not only to source people but also to retain them and help them grow.

Massimo Meijer, is a Design Director at Isobar Amsterdam and closely involved in building teams and setting a company culture. We interviewed him to know more about what it takes to hire the right talent.

His career started as a motion design intern at MTV in his home land of the Netherlands. Through MTV, he had an opportunity to move into advertising, where he worked for Tribal DDB, TBWA and MediaMonks. Massimo spent some time in London to focus more on product and services. Recently, he and his young family, moved back to the Netherlands where he works as a Design Director at Isobar.

How can you make sure you are selecting the right people for the job?

Hiring the right talent is vital for any company. It doesn’t matter which department or agency you work for. We’re all trying to get the best people in, and it’s hard. There is lots of competition out there. It’s a candidate market at the moment, where people have the luxury to pick which agencies or projects they would like to work for.

People don’t automatically pick the big agencies anymore. In order to attract the right and new talent, we need to step up. Just having big client names, a good lunch and a fridge filled with beers isn’t enough. Tech companies that have their own creative departments and start-ups too are trying to get talented people in. We’re all fighting for the same talent.

At Isobar we try to provide people with a good work/life balance, offer them a career growth path, training possibilities, creating a culture of innovation with our NowLab (a physical space where we do innovation sprints for clients) and you’re able to work cross-discipline within Dentsu Network, which give people lots of opportunities.

How do you select your specialists?

We use our own network. We ask our team if they know anyone who might be a good fit for that role. It’s natural way of finding a cultural fit and it’s a good quality check as well. Nobody would ever recommend a person who can’t do the job.

First we look at candidates’ core skillset and personality, to see how that person blends in with the rest of the team. But there is so much more to a person. For me it’s important that people have that natural curiosity to keep learning and exploring.

It’s not just the job spec we’re looking for, we’re building a team, a culture.

How did you get started?

I’m a kid from the ’80. Born in the Netherland with Indonesian roots and got family living in Germany, Scotland and Canada. To make it even more confusing, I’ve got an Italian name as well (no connection there though).

I grew up between different cultures. I always considered myself lucky to been able to grow up between those different worlds. I do believe that is where my curiosity for other people and cultures started and it made me help view things differently.

At the start of my career, as a junior, the only thing I wanted to do was to make awesome work, fill my portfolio and win awards. But as my career progressed, at some point I got involved with interviewing and hiring people. It started small with just interviewing interns, but it moved on quickly to building teams, departments and setting a company culture.

I only realised at that stage in my career that growing up in different cultures has helped me to look for different things when hiring people. Main thing is that you want to have a team with different skillsets, but also different ideas, backgrounds, experiences. You get more perspectives on how to tackle a certain problem. The more diverse, the better it is.

What do you believe has been the key to your success thus far at levels in particular?

It’s just being curious, always trying to find new things and ways to do stuff. But also I had the privilege to work with so many talented people over the few years, learned so much from them. Collaboration is a key thing.

What publications do you follow?

I use Medium quite often to read opinion pieces, they got quite a good recommendation algorithm that select similar topics.

When do you go to bed and when do you get up?

Well… I’ve just become a dad two months ago, so sleep is a thing of the past. It’s all about our little one at the moment.

Tell us one thing you love the most about your role and what don’t you like.


Thanks Massimo!

By Geny Caloisi.

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