The MFA Hall of Fame Award honours individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the media agency industry in Australia. They are the ‘best of the best’ – trailblazing leaders who inspire us, challenge us, and whose contributions have shaped our industry into what it is today.

This year, we are delighted to induct Belinda Rowe into the MFA Hall of Fame. With a career that includes leadership roles in media, marketing, communications and technology, Belinda is without a doubt one of our industry’s most successful, effective and inspiring leaders.

A founding member of Optimedia Australia in 1998, Belinda shaped the agency into a formidable industry force, winning big-spending clients such as Nestlé​, Telstra, News Corp and Jetstar, and becoming one of the most visible and respected leaders of the media agency industry. In her previous role as executive leader and shareholder of iconic Aussie agency Mojo, she was part of the management team that led the turnaround of the business, leading to its sale to Publicis.

In 2009, Belinda moved to the UK as Global Managing Partner of ZenithOptimedia before becoming Global Managing Partner of parent company Publicis Media.

“I’ll always remember working with Belinda at Optimedia in the late ‘90s – how she helped change the way media contributed to the communications process by bringing it out of the back room to start leading the entire agenda, how she believed in the power of teams, and how compelling it was to be part of that team,” says Peter Horgan, CEO of Omnicom Media Group ANZ and MFA Chair.

“Belinda was an absolute game changer,” says James Warburton, CEO of Seven Network. “She was probably the first media buyer to bring the creative and strategic sides together, while at the same time being a very strong media buyer from a deal point of view – something that was incredibly innovative at the time. She really set the industry up for the leadership that media represents in the whole creative process today.”

Belinda’s pioneering spirit also made a lasting impression on John Sintras, President, US & Multinational at Mutiny. “Belinda has always been passionate about moving our industry forward, evidenced by her involvement on many industry boards and committees, so this recognition is long overdue and very well-deserved.

“For me, I was most inspired by Belinda’s work launching and developing Optimedia – one of the earliest examples of the modern media consultancy. Belinda’s model of fewer, bigger clients, strategy-led retainers, and deep client relationships at the most senior level was groundbreaking in its day, and an early beacon of how our industry should operate,” he says.

Belinda currently holds non-executive director roles at ASX-listed Australian media company HT&E Ltd, Temple & Webster Group, and 3P Learning Limited. She is also a nominated director of Soprano Design (a global technology services company), and is on the board of AFL club Sydney Swans, and Sky New Zealand.

Throughout her career, Belinda has pioneered industry innovation and betterment, particularly during a long stint as Chair of the Australian Federation of Advertising (the precursor to the Advertising Council of Australia).

The Hall of Fame induction also recognises her dedication to supporting and developing women leaders. Belinda is a member of Chief Executive Women Australia, Minerva Network supporting women in sport, Mentor Walks, the Marketing Academy, and Women in Advertising and Communications London. In addition, she was a significant contributor to Future Leaders, which provides a bursary for women for personal development and mentoring women leaders.

Belinda has always been a strong advocate for collaboration – long before it was fashionable. At the 2007 Caxton Awards, she stressed the importance of media agencies and creative agencies working together more effectively and called for an end of the (then) turf war between the two sides. “Clients really dislike it. It’s distracting,” she said at the time.

MFA Board director Megan Brownlow says Belinda impacted the industry by being a strong leader at a time when not many women occupied positions of leadership in our field.

“Belinda was a pioneer in the media industry in many ways. She represented diversity before that word became universally understood,” says Brownlow. “She was often the only woman on the speaking stage or in boardrooms. 

“She was people-centred and caring with her teams. She was articulate and confident. Young women with aspirations looked up to Belinda - and could see their future selves. Many of us owe a debt to her.”

Lauren Joyce, Chief Strategy & Connections Officer at ARN, who was lucky enough to be mentored by Belinda, couldn’t agree more. “Belinda’s mentorship helped me realise a potential that I didn’t know was possible, and I can say the same for others she has mentored.

“Belinda’s passion for the media industry and helping it to retain talent, especially female talent, is contagious, and her ability to channel that passion into action through advocacy, network building and influencing policy at a board level means she leaves both the humans and the industry as a whole in a better place than she found them.”

Belinda on receiving her induction at the MFA Awards 2023 said "I really would love it, if this industry came together and worked hard on diversity, inclusion, and equity. It's so important that we embrace the whole of who we are as people. I'm more passionate about this now more than ever. It’s critical that we make this move as there is a lot of evidence on the commercial benefits of diversity.

The media industry has an extraordinary ability to embrace its responsibility for good, enabling the voices of communities and to bring together the talents and creativity to make it a sustainable future for all."

Belinda Rowe

2023 Hall of Fame Recipient - Belinda Rowe

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