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Women in Media - Leanne Brinkies

Welcome to MediaScope's profile series where we ask 'Women in Media' to comment on their career and experiences in our industry.

This time I'm pleased to present Managing Director of media agency - ZenithOptimedia - Leanne Brinkies.

BREAKING FEB 2014:  Leanne departs ZenithOptimedia

BREAKING OCT 2014:  Leanne joins King Content

Thanks to Leanne for getting involved.

Name:   Leanne Brinkies
Company: ZenithOptimedia
Role: Managing Director, MelbourneWomen in Media - Leanne Brinkies

Tell us about your industry background?

I've been in the media industry for 19 years. A few years in, I saw this little thing called the Internet start to emerge and had an inkling it could be the start of something big which would change the media landscape we knew.  I was excited about the potential opportunity and took a risk which thankfully has hugely paid off through-out my career.  I spent 12 years specialising in all things digital media and have been privileged to help many clients with their first steps into this medium.

What is your role and what do you do?

I'm the Managing Director of ZenithOptimedia's Melbourne office  and the first digital media specialist to be appointed to run an agency in Australia.  I'm part of ZO's National Exec team and responsible for the overall running of Melbourne - our service delivery to clients, our people, and ensuring the quality of our product.  I'm a big believer in being hands on in the business and creating a culture where people want to work every day.  Having a digital background, I'm using these skills to reinvent what a media agency looks like today and what it needs to look like to be relevant tomorrow.

How do you manage your work/life balance?

My family and friends would say I haven't had a balance!  I think I could be rich if I had a dollar for every "are you still at work?" comment that's been made through-out the years.  I've been single most of my working career and as a slight workaholic I have lived and breathed work achieving a fast succession through the industry and being appointed MD at 38.

I've always admired my friends who I see juggling their careers with family and children, knowing how hard it has been just to look after myself and at times feeling like I've let those people important to me down.  I now have an amazing partner who is incredibly supportive of what I do, however I'm now grappling with how to create and manage the balance I want.  It's not easy!

Please outline your views on the general media market & the position of women?

The media industry is in a dynamic period, and it is truly an exciting time to be not only a part of, but to be instrumental in the decisions which will change the landscape for both consumers and advertisers, and develop the industry models and agencies of the future.

Our industry is largely made up of women, however what surprises me most is that it's not these amazing women at the top driving the industry forward.  Personally I've never felt that my gender has been factor in any position I've held and it's definitely not a criteria I use when hiring.  People's talent, experience, skills, output, behaviours, values and culture fit are my key criteria. I don't believe women should be handed a role just because of their gender -  a demonstration of hard work, determination and passion will win out hands down no matter the sex. 

What I am seeing however is more women wanting to get to the top in our industry, and I'm excited to be a part of this as it will also be a fundamental change that will impact the way this industry operates.

What advice can you offer to women who are considering a long- term career in our industry?

Be passionate about the industry; be engaged in what is going on around you; be prepared to work hard but make sure people are aware of your contributions - sell yourself; and above all love what you do.  It's a tough industry but it's also hugely rewarding and absolutely worth it.

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

I've had many challenges over the years - from dealing with different personalities in managers and/or staff; to managing client concerns; to feeling out of my depth; or confronting and overcoming fears in areas which are not my natural skills or in my comfort zone to name a few..... 

Overcoming them requires resilience and strength, but it's also crucial that you don't feel like you need to tackle these obstacles on your own.  Throughout my career I've always had mentors and a support network who have guided me - they haven't told me the answer; but their experience, advice and wisdom has always been welcomed and I couldn't have done without it.

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

This a great question and one that I'm not sure I have the whole answer for. 

Firstly I think individual companies need to get better at supporting mothers coming back to work. This includes fighting global head count pressures which don't make it easy to hire part-time staff or enable job-share arrangements.  We want these amazing women back in the work force and need to find any way we can to enable this within our businesses.

We also need to train women on how to find their voice.  One of the biggest barriers I see is that women don't sell themselves and the work they do - you need to stand out in this industry.  I was loud.  I made sure my bosses knew what I was doing and always sought feedback and recognition.  I stayed top of mind.  If we can help women learn how to do this, I think we'd see a big change.

What's your media habit - both business & personal?

I don't have just one favourite anymore - I collect and collate from multiple sources.  Even though a digital native, I still love the printed product much to the amusement of my partner, so while I have curated content on my iPad - I have stacks of magazines piled everywhere!   I am currently in withdrawal over the loss of Grazia!

Thank you!

If you know a 'Woman in Media' you'd like to see profiled please get in touch with your suggestion.


Further Resources

 - Women in Media - see other well known women profiled in this series

 - Digital People Profiles - over the past 3 years we've profiled over 100 of the most well-known and experienced people in the Australian digital media industry through trade site - Digital Ministry

 - Media Owner Profiles - we ask some of Australia's most successful media owners about running their business and ask them to offer advice to other media owners


Other Pages of Interest