Ilona has 20 years’ experience in the industry. She has been with Leo Burnett for over a decade, working at three of the most successful offices in the agency’s global network: Melbourne, Sydney and Toronto.
Ilona started her career client-side with Mattel and then Honda Australia. Prior to her current role as Head of Planning with Leo Burnett in Melbourne, she was a senior planner with BBDO/Clemenger and Head of Strategy at MindShare. Ilona leads works across a diverse portfolio of clients – Honda, HBF, Twinings, Lifeblood, Vitasoy, Spirit of Tasmania and many more, leveraging hard and soft intelligence to create connected business, brand, digital, media and social strategies.
Ilona is an advocate for effectiveness awards and is proud of the agency’s record, consistently receiving recognition for a wide variety of work at the most esteemed effectiveness shows: Cannes, Australian Effies, Asia Pac Effies, AME, APMA, WARC Awards and 4A’s Jay Chiat Awards. She has been a regular judge at the AME’s, Australian Effies and the Asia Pac Effies.
Career & Background
What inspired you to do what you are doing now?
An open and curious nature that’s compelled to keep a well stocked mental pantry. I needed the diversity of opportunities looking for a creative expression. I thrive on shaping ideas that create value for people and leave a lasting impression.
What was your journey and where are you headed in your career right now?
I started my career on the client marketing side, it was awesome and then I came across a brilliant and exciting world of ideas, creativity and strategy. I enjoy the subtle and often times challenging art of developing strategies that navigate brands that are at inflection points. It’s rewarding and stimulating. I work across a very broad cross section of industries and brands and I enjoy supporting and nurturing up and coming thinkers.
Your favourite food for thought
Read anything that sparks the soul. Read far and wide.
Some recent good reads (nothing to do with career crossroads): Cold Enough for Snow (Jessie Au). Te brief and wondrous life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz). Fates & Furies (Lauren Groff)
Podcasts / Thought Leaders
Five of my life
The way we work (Fast Company)
Criminal (because it’s addictive and enthralling)
What drives and inspires you
What are your core values?
- Humility is rare in most industries, yet everything we do takes a village. Humility is one of the most difficult and important attributes that’s often if not always overlooked.
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
I’m not sure I have just one inspiration – people and ideas inspire me all the time. I’m not great with singularity, it’s too limiting. It’s why I was drawn to a creative industry full of clever and diverse humans.
You as a Mentor
Why have you decided to become a mentor?
Having the right people and support network as you move throughout your career can only serve people well in the short and long run.
What are the top skills or qualities you bring to mentoring?
- Great listener
- Willing to be vulnerable