Balancing the Grind with Roger Dunn, General Manager of GroupM Commerce

Roger Dunn is the General Manager of GroupM Commerce, the world’s leading media investment company responsible for more than $63B in annual media investment.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’ve worked in media and marketing for over 18 years now, initially in the UK but for the past 12 years living and working in Australia – always with a focus on digital & technology.

I’m lucky to have had the chance to establish and grow a number of new businesses, from an agency DR & data specialist unit, to Sports Central – the cross-platform sports integration unit at NewsCorp.

After returning to MediaCom as Head of Digital, I specialised in e-commerce and am currently the General Manager of GroupM Commerce, the holding group’s e-commerce centre of excellence.

In this role, I lead a hub of specialist consulting services, expertise and capabilities to help advertisers navigate and capture the rapidly shifting retail opportunities – the past year has seen huge growth and engagement in e-commerce and we’re only expecting this to grow in 2021 & beyond.

I was the first person in Australia to be Amazon certified and I’m always looking to expand my knowledge and specialism.

Every business is an e-commerce business these days, as that’s where almost 100% of the growth is coming from. I believe much of this future growth lies at the intersection of media & commerce, and it’s my role to help my clients & colleagues navigate this journey.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I’m often woken by my two girls running into the bedroom, they’re 5 & 7 and jump up to the bed for some morning cuddles and maybe some French cartoons on the TV – they go to Lycee Condorcet, the international French School of Sydney.

As we’re still mainly working from home, I then use the commute time to clear out the inbox before 9am, so I can start the day afresh.

From here the day can be fairly varied, it might involve working on a client consultancy project, perhaps helping them create an e-commerce strategy or establish a presence on an online marketplace.

I also run commerce bootcamps and present at client digital summits, so it might be involve finessing a presentation, or preparing for a panel or interview.

I might also be working with internal teams, developing a new product or solution with our product team, or discussing an upcoming campaign with our programmatic traders or the agency teams. I’m passionate about e-commerce and love to be a thought leader in this space, evangelising with clients, internal teams, or regularly via LinkedIn.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

We’ve all been working from home since March 2020, with our holding company WPP taking a global position to work remotely in order to protect staff health and limit any spread.

I feel lucky to have been at the company pre-pandemic, so I had many relationships in place prior, but it’s worked well in the circumstances and on the rare occasions we do now meet up for projects or pitches, I appreciate the face-time even more.

Personally I’ve enjoyed working from home and look forward to retaining some elements of it into the future, now we’ve created the processes and infrastructure, it’s an appealing alternative way of working for me.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I’m a night owl and work well in the evenings, so for me it’s being able to get outside and enjoy my breaks during the daylight hours, but work later in the evening which suits my body clock and schedule better.

Over the past year we’ve also been looking to focus on health and relationships, despite (or perhaps because of) the pandemic.

That’s not to say everything has been as healthy as I’d like, but we’ve enjoyed exploring locally and also using technology to reach out to friends and family further afield.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

Living in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs, one of my favourite things to do is the coastal walk. Depending on how much time we have, it might be just a short round trip, but if we have a morning it could take us all the way from Maroubra up to Bondi – so refreshing and a great chance for a real talk with your favourite people.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I’m really into podcasts and one of my favourite hosts is Scott Galloway for his entertaining but incisive analysis of technology and business, he’s also not afraid to make bold predictions on a regular basis.

You can find him on the Pivot podcast with Kara Swisher, or on his own, The Prof G Show with Scott Galloway series of interviews.

Mumbrellacast and Mi3 Audio Edition are great for local news, eMarketer Behind The Numbers for short sharp updates, and then for a view on e-commerce from the US it’s The Jason & Scott Show and the eCommerce Braintrust – Kiri Masters is phenomenal and also writes a column in Forbes which is worth checking out.

Finally, for a bit of non-work entertainment, The Adam Buxton Podcast is an amazing series of ramble chats with a great guests – I used to love The Adam & Joe Show back in the 90’s and recently re-discovered him, so have plenty of good stuff to catchup on.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Aside from the usual utility / communication apps, I’d have to say Spotify (I love a playlist), Amazon (on the home screen for easy ordering), LinkedIn (avid poster about e-commerce and more – follow me here, and JustWatch (to find out which platforms the next show is playing on). If you want a quirky but fun game, try Happy Glass.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

 I’m sure Jacinda Ardern would be a great read, an amazing leader and seems to make it all look so easy.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

As both the pandemic and the New Year roll on, now is the perfect time to reassess and make some conscious decisions about the year ahead – I hope readers grab that opportunity to make the best of 2021.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.