Meet The MD

Meet MullenLowe's Katie McCambley, the MD Who Helped Save Lives

MullenLowe's new managing director takes centre stage in our latest Meet The MD feature

By Avnie Bansal

Claire Hollands took over as the CEO of integrated agency MullenLowe in May last year. During her leadership, there have been many significant appointments, the recent one being an internal promotion of Katie McCambley from Head of Client Service to Managing Director.

"Things are seriously hotting up here at MullenLowe," says McCambley, "I’m beyond excited to be stepping into this role during such a pivotal moment of transformation for us." McCambley moved to MullenLowe from M&C Saatchi back in 2015 and began as a Global Account Manager at the agency. She also served as the business director for MullenLowe’s government accounts, including NHS recruitment, The Truth Project for The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, and the UK’s transition from the EU.

As the MD, McCambley will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the agency and work with Hollands on their collective growth ambitions for the agency.

We sat down with McCambley and asked her what she's most excited about in 2024 and her journey through the advertising industry as a talented account woman.

Creative Salon: Congratulations on the promotion Katie! From Head of Client Service to Managing Director, how are you settling into your new role?  

Katie: Thank you! It’s been a whirlwind start to the year but I’m fully embracing MD life. I’m quickly learning that it’s a delicate balance between enthusiasm and patience. I’m definitely an “all-in, gung-ho” sort of person and want to dive into everything, but the art lies in understanding that you can’t do it all at once. So, that may take a bit of getting used to…

Beginning the year as the MD, what are your top priorities for the agency? 

We’re in great shape moving into 2024, with our growth strategy centred around creativity that we’re all proud of. My priorities are to ensure that we remain laser focused on this, including strengthening our ways of working so that our people are all set up for success. I’m also a great believer in collaboration, so I’ll be looking at new ways to engage everyone along this journey whilst exploring new innovative ways to deliver great work for our clients. 

You were Campaign’s Account Person of The Year 2020. What’s that one skill that the best account people you know have? 

I suppose clichés are clichés for a reason because, for me, it’s all about relationships. The best account people I know are the ones who can list off their clients' birthdays. Their favourite lunch order. What temperature they drink their coffee. Because that’s how you build a proper partnership. And only then can you ask the really important questions. Like what keeps you up at night? What are your goals? And most importantly, how do we get there together? 

Tell us about one experience you’ve had as an account person that made you really proud. 

Well, getting Account Person of the Year was pretty special. But I think the reason why is more special. I was fortunate enough to be part of the team embedded in Whitehall to deliver the UK Government’s Covid-19 response campaigns – from ‘Stay at Home’ messaging, to encouraging app downloads and vaccine take up. What started out as one handwashing brief became the most important communications task in recent British history. Looking back, you forget how busy, stressful, and adrenaline-inducing it was. But the positive impact we all made makes me super proud. I was one cog in a very well-oiled machine, and we literally saved lives. I mean, it doesn’t get much more impactful than that! 

The marketer’s remit has become more complex over the last few years and agencies have had to evolve to keep up. So what does the new client-agency relationship look like? 

Back to my partnership point, agencies need to do more than respond to briefs. Our best relationships are the ones where we properly get stuck into our clients' wider business problems and fully immerse ourselves in their strategic challenges. More and more, we’re working hand in hand with our clients to help define the wider problem and from there we are crafting not just creative solutions but solutions that influence the very core of their business. Ultimately, that will affect much more than what their advertising looks like and that’s what, I think, marketeers are craving. 

You have been in the industry for a little over a decade now, what still takes you by surprise? 

Gosh, I really hope I’m always surprised. Because being surprised is what makes what we do fun; the constant quest to venture into unchartered territories for our clients means we should never get to a point where we’ve seen it all before. Creativity has the most joyous effect on people and if I ever stop feeling excited and surprised by it, I think it’s time to find a new job! 

What changes would you like to see in the industry?  

The Pitch. Don’t get me wrong – I love pitching. I love the adrenaline* it brings; I love the purity* of the process; I love how a win boosts agency morale*. But all these positives often have a negative side:

  • *adrenaline, which is fuelled by stress, exhaustion and lots of coffee.

  • *purity, which sometimes leads to the wrong answer because we don’t yet have skin in the game. Or don’t yet know everything about the brand. It’s no surprise that the best ideas come from those who’ve got long standing client relationships.

  • Boosts agency morale*, given that pitches are very expensive, time consuming, and exhausting. So, losing them is very, very sore – especially if it’s been a long one.   

Thanks to initiatives like the Positive Pitch Pledge, we’re seeing lots of clients being so much more conscious around their processes but there is still lots of work to do. 

What advice would you have for someone wanting to become an agency MD? 

You really have to care. You have to care for your people, care for your clients, care for the work and care for your business. When you care, your approach becomes genuine. And that makes everything easier because that means people will want to come along with you for the ride. 

And finally, what advice would you have for someone wanting to get into the industry? 

For me, there are two things: 

  1. Be passionate: a genuine passion for creativity and culture is truly infectious.

  2. Be indispensable: you will always stand out when you go that extra mile. 

Super corny – but passion fuels the heart and indispensability sharpens the mind. Balancing both will really set you up for success.


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