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Women in Media - Alex Allwood - The Holla Agency

Welcome to MediaScope's profile series where we regularly ask 'Women in Media' about their career, experiences in our industry and their views on the current state of the market. 

This time we feature Alex Allwood, founder & CEO of The Holla Agency - & co-founder of The Communications Council Gender Diversity Group. 

Thanks to Alex for getting involved. 

Tell us about your industry background?

I am the CEO of The Holla Agency; a leading customer experience company that helps improve business results by designing experiences that deliver customer-centric competitive advantage, improve customer value, and foster loyalty and advocacy. I believe that great experiences get people talking and for nearly twenty years I’ve been helping brands grow by creating simple, feel-good customer experiences that people want to share.

My first book Customer Experience is the Brand was published in June 2015 and has been written for brand leaders to bridge the gap between yesterday’s marketing and the next evolution of the brand - customer experience.   

I also host the program CX LIVE and write for Marketing Magazine, CMO Magazine and many international publications on customer experience strategy. I was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow in 2014 for my contribution to the ongoing work of Rotary.

What is your role and what do you do?

My three areas of focus are Purpose, People and Profit. Being true to our purpose in all of our behaviour; making a difference in the lives of our stakeholders and ensuring a return on investment to our shareholders.

What are your family circumstances and how do you manage your work/life balance?

Having a husband and two teenagers who are very supportive and loving provides the balance between life and work. We like hanging out with each other; we have dinner together most evenings (no mobiles), watch the kids play weekend sport and we love hiking.  

Please outline your views on the general media market – what is the state of the media and any trends to watch out for?

Consumer purchasing behaviour has shifted dramatically; from making brand buying decisions on advertising, to relying more heavily on peer recommendation in the decision making process. Earned media means your customers are your media channel; put simply when a customer has a rewarding experience they are more likely to keep using your product/service and share their experience with family and friends. The value in earned media for brands is reducing their acquisition costs, which on average is 6-7 times higher than the cost of customer retention.

What advice would you offer to your younger self as you started your career in our industry?

Do what you love. Find a mentor. Network. Don’t party too hard!

What challenges have you faced in your career and how have you overcome them?

My biggest challenge is I expect the same of my team as I expect of myself. I don’t believe this will change.

What can our industry do right now to better recognise & support women in media?

Retaining talented people across the business is on the agenda of most organisations today. Agencies need to get serious about workplace flexibility - this will require cultural change driven by organisational leaders, a creative approach to HR policy, a shift in behavioural bias and changes in attitude to de-stigmatise flexibility in the workplace. 

What are the objectives of The Communications Council Gender Diversity Group – what initiatives do you have in market?


The Diversity Group’s objective is to raise awareness of the value of nurturing and retaining gender balance in the workplace by providing practical tools to assist Council members deliver gender equity in their organisations. 


In late 2014 the Council launched two initiatives for our industry. The first initiatives is ‘Champions of Change’, a group of five influential leaders who are pioneering gender diversity change in our industry. The second initiative is an online hub of information, resources and tools to help agencies begin changing the status quo.  See more information here


There are currently active discussions on the We Are Women in Media & Adtech Linkedin Group regarding the lack of women speaking at our industry events. What are your views on this – and how can we address this issue?                     

My opinion is if event organisers really want more female speakers then they need to consider what it is they need to change within their organisations. Many companies are ’talking the talk’ but not ‘walking the walk’.

On their agenda is a desire for female inclusion, they talk openly on the topic and believe that their organisations function as meritocracies, however what tends to exist are cultural biases that stifle change. Ultimately it is leadership in attitudinal and policy change which is required to ensure broader inclusion.        

What media do you consume? (both personal and business)

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn,, Digiday, Forrester Blogs,, and MediaScope.

Thank you!


MediaScope Women in Media - Alex Allwood - The Holla AgencyAlex's Book - Customer Experience is the Brand - will be launched in August....

Your customer is now in the driver’s seat. They’re super-connected, influential within their social networks and have high expectations that their brand interactions will be personalised, contextual and device relevant. 

Customer Experience is the Brand - has been written for brand leaders to bridge the gap between yesterday’s marketing and the next evolution of the brand - customer experience.



Women in Media - She SaysSheSays - is a global networking organisation to support women in advertising, media, marketing and creative. It's entirely free and everyone involved is a volunteer. Come and join us at our next event. Find out more here - & join the SheSays Facebook page. 



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