Eamonn Burke

Career history
I joined Coopers & Lybrand, as it was in my day, as an articled clerk straight out of school. That involved spending the first two years in full-time college before beginning work and completing my Prof 3 and FAE exams at night.

I started working in the Business Services Group (BSG) in C&L. BSG mainly catered for small to medium sized clients and covered accounts preparation and audit to consultancy. I was also seconded to Corporate Services and Audit groups at various times so I got a very varied training. I was fortunate to receive not just a broad spectrum of experience but also the opportunity to work closely with clients both large and small. It was this combination of professional and practical experience that gave me the ideal platform on which to map out my future career.

I left C&L to join Davy Stockbrokers where I had the great experience of running a large finance team. I left there after 5 years to join Cawley NeaTBWA to broaden my range of skills and knowledge in a highly dynamic and competitive industry. In my current role I am responsible for the workings of the Finance Department along with playing an active part dealing directly with clients.

This role has offered many challenges and career highlights. These include negotiating the company’s entry into the TBWA global network and establishing joint ventures and subsidiaries to broaden the depth of our capabilities and market offerings.

PwC Alumni
It’s of great benefit to be part of the PwC family. Through formal and informal events you get to meet and network with people who are involved in a wide variety of businesses and who have collectively built up many years of experience. Being able to tap into this is a great help when facing the many complex business challenges that arise on a day-to-day basis.

This is of course on top of the great craic when you meet up with old PwC colleagues to reminisce about days of old (the days of BSG deserve a novel in their own right!).

Business outlook & challenges
The recession has had a big impact on the advertising industry in Ireland and we have not been immune to this. There have been significant drops in volume of work and the prices clients are prepared to pay. Like many other sectors these issues are asking big questions about agency structures. The emergence of digital is also having a profound impact on agencies. Gone are the Mad Men days when the glamorous creative department worked its magic and everyone went on a long liquid lunch! Digital brings a far more complex array of analytics that make advertising far more accountable.

As the recession continues to bite clients demand more and more for their money and the more Facebook and Twitter become normal social tools the more the rules of advertising change.

The current challenge for agencies is to resist setting-up a digital arm and treating it as a silo. Instead, they need to embrace digital technology into the normal advertising process. Therefore the agencies that will thrive will not be the new digital specific start-ups or the traditional agencies who set-up the best digital arm but those who combine the best of strategy, creativity and technology all in one.

Any one these issues would pose significant challenges on its own, but together they will shape the future of our industry for many years to come. Our response is to reshape and retrain. By developing staff who are fluent across all advertising platforms and who can work in a place where strategy, creativity and technology meet, we will ensure that we are well positioned to benefit when the recovery kicks in.

Lessons learned
As a fresh-faced boy accountant I believed that to build a successful business you would need to focus on Your Profit, Your Clients and then Your People. After years of working in business and with the experience that has added lines to my once fresh complexion, I now know that the true order for success is: Your People, Your Clients and lastly, Your Profit. That is the best lesson that business has taught me.

Sharon O'Connor
Tel: +353 1 792 8762

Of further interest
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