Mäd's Chief Culture Officer.

Ryan Holmes, HootSuite founder and CEO, penned an article on a business-oriented social media site asking if your company needs a Director of Getting Sh*t Done.

It’s a very insightful read into ongoing issues plaguing many organizations which cause a lot of internal inefficiencies (think wasted time and money) and unnecessary pain points.

At Mäd, we share Holmes’ thoughts on the matter and have our own version of the DGS*D: the Chief Culture Officer (directly inspired by Google’s erstwhile Stacy Sullivan).

The what?

Yes, it’s an unwieldy title that could be changed at any given point. But the important thing is the role’s function and what it’s responsible for. It’s a triple-hat role that takes care of the Mäd brand, its People, and its Operations.

Let’s take a look at each of those areas.


It’s one of those terms that have been loosely used and thrown around so much that it’s understood in so many ways, sometimes incorrectly. The simplest explanation for ‘Brand’, and one I particularly like, is that:

It is a set of values and beliefs that you create in people’s minds about you or your product or service that make you different from the rest.

Funnily enough, many advertising/communication/creative agencies put so much effort creating, building and caring for their clients’ brands that, as an organization, they neglect the one brand that also needs to be built and cared for: their own.

We wanted to avoid that pothole so we put someone in charge. This person is to make sure the universe of external audiences (potential clients, partners, candidates) sees us in the light we want to be seen. And so far, it’s not perfect but I think we’re doing a pretty good job of it. Our digital and social media assets reflect our energy, our passions, our work, even our thoughts, and ideas.

The other more oft-neglected side is the ‘Internal Brand’, a relatively newer concept compared to ‘Brand’ if I’m not mistaken. Wisegeek defines it as

A corporate philosophy that focuses on bringing the company’s core culture, identity and premise to its employees … and looks to make workers at all levels “ambassadors” or true representatives of the company and its values.

This is just as crucial as how external audiences see us (if not more).


Because if employees are clear on what the agency believes and values, what it means and why, then it is easy for them to understand what they need to do, how it needs to be done and why they need to do what they’re doing.

Simply put, it’s keeping everyone in the organization on the same page as much as possible – especially since we’re looking at scaling up in the very near future, it’s ABSOLUTELY KEY that everyone inside is aligned. It’s not easy and we’ve made some mistakes, but that’s one other thing we believe in at Mäd: make mistakes and learn from them.


The term ‘HR’ (I shudder at it) carries so much baggage, we thought it best to use ‘People’ instead. Friendlier, more accommodating, less stiff.

Don’t you think? Thought you’d agree.

Countless experience has shown that HR, more often than not, do not understand or ‘get’ the core workings of its organization.

Very rarely will you encounter an HR person who can tell you how a creative brief is written. Or what the difference is between a visual peg and the final artwork. Or why renderings take so long. Or why effective U/X is important to selling the app to the end user.

At Mäd, we wanted – needed – someone from a creative agency background who understood People-related issues and how things work (or not) in a creative agency. The teams will look to this person to provide solutions, suggestions, and ways to smoothen out all sorts of kinks. All this without the usual bureaucracy (and the gazillion forms!) that traditional HR departments are wont to provide.

Recruitment is another key sub-area. Significant years in a creative agency and experience in hiring for creative/digital/media agencies hone a sense of which types of profiles will fit well within the Mäd environment, and which types won’t. More than background, experience, and skills, we look for attitude, energy, self-motivation, and personality. Ok, there’s a longer list in real life, but in broad terms, these are the basics.


Mäd is still very much a start-up, despite the phenomenal growth spurt we’ve experienced, so it is important that we have someone on board who keeps our ducks in a row, the house clean and the plumbing working.

Behind the glitz and glamour of the professional services life (or any creative industry) is the dowdiness of contracts and other legal compliance activities, ordering hardware, requesting supplies, formalizing work processes and SOPs and an entire slew of ‘humdrum-y’ matters that keep the client-facing troops well-oiled and fully functional, and with as little headache as possible.

How it all comes together.


The three areas of Brand, People, and Operations make up the Mäd culture: the belief system and philosophies we uphold as an organization – it defines how we approach and deal with People matters and simultaneously, the Operational aspect allows our People to do their jobs aligned with what the Brand stands for.

Most companies might see this as generally falling under the CEO’s scope – true, they do. But because these areas are, and will remain, incredibly critical, we believe having someone dedicated to these cornerstones is an absolute necessity.

Emanuele Faja

Emanuele Faja

CEO at Mäd. Emanuele brings on board a passion for minimalist Italian design and a 21st-century management approach. He consistently helps clients create and maintain market leader positions.

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Mäd's Chief Culture Officer.
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