MIAMI, FL: Agencies could gain major benefits from doubling down on their efforts to develop and retain talent, according to Wendy Clark, the President/CEO of DDB North America.

Clark, who joined DDB – a unit of Omnicom Group – from the Coca-Cola Company earlier this year, discussed this topic at the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) Transformation 2016 conference.

More specifically, she suggested that hiring, developing and retaining the right people should be a primary goal for agencies, whatever their other objectives.

"The number-one criterion I hold myself accountable to is retention and improvement of talent," she said. (For more, including further details of DDB's talent strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: Wendy Clark's new DDB operating model.)

"Everything else – be it margin, be it profit, be it great work, be it awards – is the fallout of that simple initiative."

An agency's employees, she continued, represent "the core of what we have and what we bring to the table: Talented people who create the work, but then [also] bring in the business. Without talent, we're nothing."

In this light, DDB introduced a new "World of Talent" management initiative in March 2016 which, in Clark's words, "celebrates and recognizes our point of view that talent means a lot of things, but gender is not one of them.

"In that same spirit, talent has no religion. Talent has no sexual orientation. And talent has no age … None of these things have anything to do with the power and the talent in people you bring into your companies."

Having hired the right people, it is also incumbent upon agencies to ensure their staff work together in ways that truly reflect the requirements of the rapidly changing marketing ecosystem.

"We have to have people who can work this thing. Because, in a marketplace that demands collaboration, how they [work together] is equally as important as what they do," Clark said. "Imagine that as a change statement."

Data sourced from Warc