Havas Village Sydney: Collaboration Comes from the Top

As a response to clients’ needs for greater coordination and integration, Havas Group launched the Village model. This client-centric concept brings creative, media, and digital teams together under one roof to align resources, production, and insights across teams. It’s a manifestation of our Together strategy—and our strong-held belief that we always work better together. Since launching in Paris in 2014, the Village model has expanded globally to 39 cities (and counting).

Below we hear from the leadership team in Sydney on how they’ve managed to build a cohesive and collaborative Village culture among three agencies: Havas Australia, Havas Media Australia, and Red Agency Australia.

In order to build a working Village, collaboration has to start with the leadership team.

In Sydney, the three of us get along really well, which certainly helps. But more than that, we have regular and open communication. We sit down together once a week to discuss new business, strategy, HR, and anything else that’s important for the Village. We also have an ExCo “board meeting” with 15 of the most senior people, who give updates on new business opportunities and how others can help. There’s nothing worse than finding out the day before a pitch that another agency within the Village has previous experience with a client.

Pooling knowledge, lending employees, and borrowing resources benefit everyone involved. We’ve found that one of the biggest barriers to building a true Village culture is feeling slighted when a member of your team is taken away to do something outside of their job description. But it’s our shared philosophy that each person pitches in to help the greater good. And considering that over ten clients are currently accessing more than one agency in the Village, what we’re doing is clearly working.

Then, of course, there’s the fun stuff. We run monthly initiatives to engender togetherness, like the “Havas Heroes Award,” which recognizes staff that are living our Village values; “Broke Ass Friday,” which is held right before pay week and invites everyone up to the rooftop terrace for a barbecue lunch; and “Wine Down Wednesday,” a wine tasting at a local bar. None of these things are all that expensive (especially when shared across three agencies), but they go a long way toward building a cohesive, positive culture.

Ultimately, it comes down to the leadership. Collaboration between teams only happens when people at the top are committed to making it work—and refuse to let bullshit get in the way.

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James Wright is the MD of Red Agency Australia and group COO Havas Australia, Anthony Gregorio is the group CEO of Havas Australia, and Mike Wilson is the CEO of Havas Media Australia