YLG|FFR in the Capital

Posted 20 February 2019.

​The Comms Council Young Leadership Group, under the guidance of Marlen Smith, Comms Council Industry Development Manager, have identified an essential need for the industry - to connect with and support new talent in order to ‘future proof’ the industry.

The First Five Rungs is their project arm, under which the YLG members have committed their personal time, resource and support of one another to create initiatives to demonstrate how valued ‘newbies’ are to the advertising industry.

The YLG’s mission is:

“To engage, challenge and inspire the brightest young talent - the future of the advertising world.”

YLG|FFR in the Capital Members:


Marlen Smith - Industry Development Manager, Comms Council When Marlen began her role just over six years ago, she became aware of the need to future proof talent for the industry and ensure emerging leaders had the opportunity to explore and develop their leadership skills in a safe and collaborative environment. Marlen has nurtured and mentored the Young Leaders Group and their project arm the First Five Rungs.

Marlen is passionate about the advertising industry and is an advocate for raising professional standards. Her inspiration comes from the many talented and bright people she works with and their commitment to creating extraordinary work. Her commitment to young people entering the industry is well regarded and she has earned the reputation of a confidant, a trusted advisor and someone who genuinely cares for all the young people she works with. She is immensely proud of all those who have been involved with the YLG|FFR group and what they have achieved.

While consistently choosing to remain in the background, those who get to know Marlen have observed her love of life and people! They also know that most years she can be found in the mosh pit at R+V or sipping bubbles on any day ending with ‘y’.



Emilie Watts (Chair) - Senior Account Manager, FCB
Emilie is the Chair of the newly amalgamated First Five Rungs in the Capital and is incredibly proud of the momentum the Wellington-based team has gained so quickly. Emilie sees value in the fresh thinking that relative new-comers to the advertising industry bring, and can’t wait to continue delivering on the group’s shared ambition to bring out the confidence in our industry’s newbies, allowing them to see their own unique value. Emilie will apply her learnings from her four years at FCB, where she’s loved discovering how advertising can provide a creative solution to problem-solving, particularly when it comes to social change and understanding the small triggers that can contribute to big changes.



Robbie Allen (Deputy-Chair) - Business Manager, Clemenger BBDO
Robbie joined FFR in the Capital in 2018 and began with helping to work up the Wellington group’s purpose before recently being invited to serve as Deputy Chair. As a Business Manager at Clemenger BBDO, Robbie is passionate about the behaviour change work he has been involved in at the agency. In particular, he’s driven by helping his clients keep the humans they hope to serve and impact at the centre of all their work. When he’s not diving deep on client problems, Robbie’s sharing the latest trends and tech updates with the agency to keep pushing boundaries of the work.

Charlotta Cutfield - Account Manager, FCB Charlotta works in the Account Management team at FCB and has been the Secretary of First Five Rungs in the Capital since it was established in July 2018. There are few that could have slipped into the Secretary role so seamlessly, and Charlotta has taken it all in her stride. She makes an integral contribution to First Five Rungs in the Capital, bringing enthusiasm and commitment and ensuring that all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. Heading into her third year in the advertising industry, Charlotta is very passionate about creating a strong support network for young people working in advertising in Wellington and is excited for what the future holds.

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Laura D’Amore - Media Planner, Starcom
Laura joined YLG in 2017, when the group was extended to Wellington for the first time. She has been working with passion on organising the first inaugural FFR event in the Capital and she is keen to get involved in initiatives to support young professionals in the advertising industry. When she is not immersed in the hectic world of media, she indulges in a passion of hers – ballet. She might even sneak in the occasional pirouette or arabesque in the office if she thinks no one is watching!

Georgia Wass - Junior Media Planner/Buyer, MBM
Georgia is a Junior Media Planner/Buyer at McCready Bale Media. Having started in the digital media team, she then jumped at the chance and challenge to expand her media knowledge in a planner/buyer role. Georgia joined FFR in the Capital in 2018 when the group was formed and is currently the social lead for the group, responsible for managing all Wellington activity on the Facebook page. Georgia is excited to see what the newly formed FFRC group can achieve and is proud to play a role in supporting young people in the industry.

Marianne Arugay - Digital Assistant, MBM
Marianne has been working with the implementation team as a digital assistant at MBM for almost a year now. On her line of work, she is determined to help the internal work and progression across campaigns to achieve success through digital solutions. She joined the group in 2018 and was really delighted to have met young and aspiring leaders who are undeniably eager to aim the goal of giving one another encouragement and support. This made her more passionate on taking challenges with enthusiasm and willingness.

Claudine Gregg - Graduate - OMD
Claudine joined the FFR in the Capital when it was in the first stages of forming in 2018. She is passionate about encouraging young people in the industry to shine, utilising their unique perspectives and diverse ideas. Throughout her role at OMD, she is always eager to learn and know as much as she can about the industry. She’s always willing to help her peers in the industry through strongly supporting them and helping them overcome any issues. Claudine is excited to be a part of the First Five Rungs Brand and especially the newly formed branch in Wellington, as they create a strong and supportive community down here in the capital.

Charlotte Greally - Associate Strategist, Clemenger BBDO Charlotte joined FFR in the Capital in 2018. She began with helping to work up the group’s purpose, and is excited to help bring it to life in the creation of their first speaker event, ‘Your First Five Years’, and beyond. An Associate Strategist at Clemenger BBDO, Charlotte believes that understanding problems starts with understanding people. As the group gains traction, she is hoping to lend her insight skills to uncover what keeps people from joining, or staying with, a career in communications, in efforts to grow the industry further.






Kendyl Elliott - Graduate, OMD
Kendyl joined the FFR in the Capital after coming into the industry as a COMMs graduate in 2018. She greatly appreciated the support of COMMs when first starting out and loved the idea of bringing this support to new members of the industry in Wellington. At the agency, she is constantly wanting to learn new skills and is eager to help out other members of the team. Kendyl is looking forward to launching FFR in the Capital and the opportunity to encourage more young people to join and thrive in this great industry





Jessica Adams - Media Assistant, McCready Bale Media
Jessica is a Media Assistant at McCready Bale Media. She started in February last year as a comms council grad. Jessica joined FFR in the Capital when the group first formed. She is excited to see where the group takes this initiative and the value that we offer as emerging leaders and fresh thinkers in the media and communications industry.





Ellen Chote - Junior Media/Buyer, MBM Ellen is a Junior Media Planner/Buyer at McCready Bale Media and is part of the foundation members of the First Five Rungs in the Capital. Ellen joined after completing the Comms Council Course in 2017, and decided to grasp the opportunity to help support, grow and encourage those within their first five years of the advertising industry. Ellen strives off the fast-paced and ever-changing nature of this industry, working with some of NZ’s biggest brands. Ellen is proud to be a part of forming the FFR in Wellington and paving a way for other young people in the industry