Hip hip hooray!
It’s 1993. The internet is coming in and shoulder pads are on their way out. St Kilda Rd and North Sydney are the Australian epicentres of advertising, and a young woman with a very large mobile phone has just opened the proverbial door to her recruitment agency: Clerehan.
25 years ago, when Australia was mid-recession, Esther Clerehan gave the finger up to job security and went out on her own. She’d had a good grounding in the business, having been trained by renowned Australian recruiter Claire Worthington.
“Claire was my boss for about seven years, although I was running the Sydney office for five of those. She taught me everything about the recruitment side of the ad business. Her favourite saying was “every pot has a lid”. She was pretty tough on the outside but a total softie on the inside. Ask anyone who was around in those days and Claire had some influence on their career.”
Like Claire before her, it could be said that Esther has mentored generations of creatives. She’s known many of today’s leaders since they were juniors (like her first placement Andy Flemming, just days after her business opened) and continues to place people across all levels of the industry, like the four women and one man she has placed this month. And that’s a sign of the times.
“There were definitely women in the business when I started. But they were severely underrepresented in management. That’s a recent change that we can all applaud” says Esther.
Emma Hill, incoming ECD at M&C Saatchi Melbourne, is one such example of changing times. At one time the only female ECD of a multinational in Australia—at Clemenger BBDO Melbourne back in 2004—she now joins a number of female leaders in the industry. She's a fan of Esther, too.
“I’ve never asked Esther for personal career advice, or for help with who’s who in the talent hood, specifically because she’s a woman. I’ve asked her because she’s the simply the best ear to the ground/recogniser of talent/most approachable/disarming/authentic/no bullshit creative recruiter going around. The fact she’s a woman is just gravy. The fact she’s a Swannies supporter I can overlook.”
Fellow Monkeys creative and CD Barb Humphries recently took Esther with her as companion to the B&T Mentor’s Event on International Women’s Day as a sign of her appreciation. It helps to have someone in your corner, and it really helps if that someone is Esther.
When I first met Esther I was working at Ogilvy, with an ordinary portfolio and somewhat deflated sense of my abilities. But she seemed to see something in me, and a couple of years later she placed me at The Monkeys, then, as today, one of Australia’s top agencies. That was four years ago.
Creative people need all the support we can get to forge our careers in a competitive and difficult industry. And when you find someone who’ll help you reach new milestones, you make sure to put your hands together when they reach a big one.
So here’s to you, Clerehan. Happy 25th Birthday!
Continuing her tradition of supporting female creatives, Esther has sponsored this issue of Gabberish. If you are interested in sponsoring issue #3 please write to Siobhan at firstname.lastname@example.org