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Where will you be in 24 years? Hear Rex's story.

Rex's Farwell lunch


After 24 years of service at Adcorp Rex Secombe has now begun to enjoy the serenity of his retirement. But before departing, Rex took the time to speak with Adcorp’s Social Media Strategist, Natalee-Jewel, and share his insights into a changing industry, market and business. 

A relative new comer to Adcorp and certainly to the industry, Natalee-Jewel was curious to learn from the wisdom of Rex’s experience. Here’s their conversation: 

Natalee-Jewel Kirby avatarNatalee-Jewel: What was your first job with Adcorp and how do you think you’ve got to where you are today?

Rex Secombe avatarRex:  My first job with Adcorp was doing Media Reconciliation in Accounts Payable for 5 years, but during that time I was doing a Management Cert course at TAFE. 

After 5 years I was ready to leave Adcorp, I thought “No way am I staying in one place for this long!” but then I was offered International Media (IM) and I could not refuse the opportunity.

At the time, we were doing as well as we could have been and we needed somebody to be committed in overseeing IM and keep costs under control. So, they created a job for me where I did media training and contracts for clients and international media. 

It was quite an involved role; especially when IM started getting busy through obtaining universities and different clients. Before I knew it, I ended up within the system and I’ve been doing International Media ever since.

Believe it or not, I still find it fascinating today.

Natalee-Jewel avatarNatalee-Jewel: You’ve been with Adcorp for 24 years.  Millennials (Gen Y) are accused of constantly “job-hopping”, what’s the secret to your longevity at Adcorp?

Rex Secombe avatarRex: To be honest, I don’t believe Gen Y is any different to any other generation. I’ve done exactly the same thing that they are doing, there’s nothing wrong with having a diverse career.  I was 40 when I came to Adcorp, and just after that I got a mortgage therefore I needed stability. 

It’s no secret, but my advice would be “Get it all out of your system first, and then find a job and a challenge that you like and settle into it!”

I’ve stayed because Adcorp has always been evolving.  Every 4 or 5 years I’ve seen a “new” Adcorp; we’ve had acquisitions, we became a publically listed company in the late 90s and we’ve worked with a range of clients from property to automotive, retail to government. There has been a lot of positive change in Adcorp, so it’s always kept me on my toes and wanting to stay involved in such a dynamic space.

Natalee-Jewel avatar
Natalee-Jewel: Is there any particular period that you preferred over the others? And what was it about that period that makes it stand out from the others?

Rex Secombe avatarRex: We had a recession in the early 90s, followed by a change of Government and then business confidence bounced back. I think it was just a busy time for advertising; so the time leading up to the Olympics was a big upsurge for Adcorp. There was such a great buzz in the air – particularly in Sydney.

Natalee-Jewel avatar
Natalee-Jewel: Do you think we’ll see a period like that again with the market downturns experienced of late and potentially a change of Government in the next year?

Rex Secombe avatarRex: I don’t think we’ll ever get back to what we had then, but then again, I’ve noticed a new wave of change and excitement come from Adcorp’s business initiatives to adapt and be a part of the current digital revolution, rather than sit back and “wait and see” like a lot of other agencies and even clients seem to be doing.

Natalee-Jewel avatar
Natalee-Jewel: We’ve talked about some of the changes that Adcorp has faced; but an obvious change is the technological revolution, is there something particular that drastically changed the way you did business?

Rex Secombe avatarRex: When I started we didn’t even have a production department! We had bromides; ads were photos and had to be couriered to a paper (there were no quick emails). There was hardly any colour, everything was black and white; this was right up until the year 2000, when technology became big!

You can imagine if you sent an ad to the US and it was incorrect, you were stuffed because you didn’t have enough time to get the new ad on the plane. 

Email changed EVERYTHING! If there was a problem you could have it fixed and resent within 24 hours! Colour ads became the norm.

It was truly revolutionary.

Natalee-Jewel avatarNatalee-Jewel: What motivates you to get out of bed every working day for 24 working years?

Rex Secombe avatarRex: Money!  Ha-ha, no look; you realise in your 40s or 50s that you need security, you’re always saving; paying off the mortgage, travelling etc. So money is a great motivator. Working with people you like in a role where you are appreciated and recognised for your work also helps.

Natalee-Jewel avatarNatalee-Jewel: What’s been the most challenging task of your career?
Rex Secombe avatarRex: That’s a good question; no job is perfect and while I’ve experienced a few challenges at Adcorp, I’ve learnt (and laughed) from each and every one.

Ultimately, there was nothing that wasn’t overcome through clear communication. By sitting down and simply having a chat, stating the issues and working together to find a solution. Whether it’s with a Manager, colleague or client, the problem can always be resolved through honest and open communication.

Once, Adcorp presented a different kind of challenge. 

In International Media, we deal with Travelex and Western Union; one day they asked me if I wanted to be part of a TV commercial. I agreed, with the assumption that I would just be in the background holding a sign or something. It turned out that I was the main player and I had to tell the world who Travelex were! 

All up they did about 5 commercials with Adcorp which actually went on air, so it was fun…but challenging. 

You get a lot of variety at Adcorp!

Natalee-Jewel avatarNatalee-Jewel: What has been the highlight of your career?
Rex Secombe avatarRex: You can’t really describe only one, that’s a hard one. 

If I had to choose – when we won the Federal Government account that was a big win for me!

For the first ten years I was with the company, Adcorp always went to dinners and presentations; and we really were the Cinderella business. We had credibility with the clients we had kept for years and we had been trying to get the Federal Government contract for a long time. We slowly built up our base; with NSW Government, followed by the WA Government and finally getting Federal was like our Everest.  It was a big accomplishment.

Natalee-Jewel avatarNatalee-Jewel: Biggest lesson that you’ve learnt?
Rex Secombe avatarRex:  To understand that when you’re in advertising you’re dealing with money and costs that have trickledown affects, and therefore you have to be very accurate. That has taught me to be very professional and respect for other people in the business and the industry – and the contribution they make.

Natalee-Jewel avatar
Natalee-Jewel: What’s so special about Adcorp that made you stick around all this time?

Rex Secombe avatarRex: As I said before, Adcorp was always changing and Ian Rodwell was always looking for ways to adapt the business. It is still like that today with the digital revolution, Adcorp isn’t trying to avoid it; Adcorp is embracing it.

You have to be able to change and you have to be adaptable. When you’re in advertising and private business you have to always be busy and contributing to the business. If you’re in a role, you have to always put your hand up and ask for tasks (good or bad). 

Never just be sitting there, take initiative – try something new, learn something new! By being proactive I found that I always learned something new that that gives you more of an insight into how the business runs and then that leads on to new opportunities. 

Adcorp has such a diverse range of clients and roles; you can get involved with so many things. Even those “administrative” responsibilities – I got involved in the evacuation plan/safety committee. 

You can’t rest on your laurels, every day is a new day, be on the ball.

Natalee-Jewel avatarNatalee-Jewel:  That’s great advice Rex! Any other words of wisdom?
Rex Secombe avatarRex: My advice would be… In advertising you’ve got to realise it’s not all glamour; that’s on the fringe.  Day-in-day-out though, you have to have “Stickability” i.e. commitment, flexibility and professionalism. An eye for detail also helps. 

I’ve noticed that Adcorp helps all its employees develop those traits (amongst others) but isn’t pretentious about it – just professional! 

And the longer you stay the more you learn.

Natalee-Jewel avatar
Natalee-Jewel: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me Rex! 24 years is an amazing feat – some murders get less prison time! Congratulations!

Rex's Farewell lunch

Rex is awarded with a gold mouse for 24 years of service.

The Adcorp crew gathered together for a lunch to honour Rex’s contribution and commitment to the industry and to the business.

Transcribed: Rita Pong, Account Executive, Adcorp Canberra





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