Investing in local talent creates business success

From humble beginnings in 2005, Cooper and Westwood has grown rapidly to become one of the Gold Coast’s leading creative agencies with a substantial roster of local, national and international clients. According to General Manager Liam O’Doherty the agency’s success is built on a thriving team culture. “For us, culture is everything. We hire first on culture and aptitude, before technical talent”, O’Doherty enthuses.

People first

It’s that focus on putting people first, with a priority on hiring people with the right cultural fit that has seen the agency develop a substantial internship program to ensure the agency can continue to grow while investing in local talent. “Apart from investing back into our industry the program makes smart business sense. It’s a definite benefit for us having the chance to work with someone, see how they respond to challenges and then how they solve problems to provide a very clear picture of their capability”, says O’Doherty.

“In the real world that’s what you need and how we measure success individually and as a team, which you can’t get just by interviewing someone and looking at their credentials. The chance to work with someone, mentor them and allow them to grow in the areas which are most important to us is among the biggest reasons why we developed the program.”

Creating a portfolio

Over the past 12 months Cooper and Westwood have engaged six interns, with three of them being offered full time roles within the agency. The most recent is Drishya Prasad, a marketing graduate from Griffith University, who discovered the internship opportunity through the Gold Coast Student Jobs website. “When Liam interviewed me he said that I’d be able to create a portfolio by the end of my internship, which really impressed me”, the international student explains. “As I was about to finish my degree I knew that I’d soon be looking for a job, so the idea of having a portfolio was a big bonus for me.”

According to Liam O’Doherty the portfolio not only provides tangible evidence of an intern’s capabilities, it’s also a very practical way of determining the kind of work they’re able to deliver, but it’s just part of the program. “We start them off with some theoretical work before moving into practical applications with a significant level of mentoring from myself and our frontline team members. Along the way they’re presented with hypothetical challenges, so by the time they start writing real ads and designing campaigns they know exactly what’s expected”, he says. 

Drishya (3rd from right) was a natural fit for Cooper and Westwood's team

Job opportunity

In Drishya’s case, she had a particular interest in social media and was keen to work in that area, little did she know that the agency just happened to be looking for someone to fill an entry level social media role. “I was really surprised when they offered me a job because I’d only been here for a day and a half”, Drishya says excitedly. “I didn’t even realise that they were looking for someone!”

O’Doherty says it all comes back to Cooper and Westwood’s prioritising of team culture. “You get a real sense of someone by their attitude – how hungry they are for the job, their willingness to learn and their keenness to be part of the team. Straight off the bat Drishya impressed us in the way she turned up and the way she met and greeted every single one of the team members. There’s no doubt Drishya immediately felt like a really strong fit for us.”