Yahoo Academy comes to a close with pitch-off for Whitelion

Yahoo’s talent building programme Yahoo Academy has wrapped after two days, concluding with a pitch-off for Whitelion.

Local talents Kate Fenton (Dentsu), Keegan Flood (FCB), Galib Hossain (PHD New Zealand) and Mehrsa Arefi (Wavemaker NZ) were flown into the heart of Sydney’s CBD to take part in this year’s brand building programmee.

The winning team, made up of Joshua Green (Spark Foundry), Vanessa Metelovski (Initiative), Rebecca Williams (OMD) and Sarah Mushan (Kaimera) will be heading to Advertising Week New York after successfully selling their idea to judges. The campaign will be brought to life by UnLtd and Yahoo to build awareness and funds for Whitelion’s ‘Three Peaks challenge’.

Rebecca Williams, Sarah Mushan, Vanessa Metelovski and Joshua Green.

The pitch-off was the closing piece of this year’s two-day career building programme, which resumed entirely in-person for the first time since 2019. It brought forty emerging leaders from across Australia and New Zealand’s advertising and marketing industry together for an intensive program focused on education, skills learning and career growth. 

Rachel Page, General Manager of Sales at Yahoo ANZ, comments: “What a spectacular showcase of our industry’s finest young talent in action. All forty attendees were so open to learning, grateful to be taking part in this legacy program and the energy in the room was palpable. 

“Yahoo is so proud to have played a small part in the career journey’s of these amazing young superstars. The future of our industry is in very capable hands. A big thank you to all the senior leaders who put forward their young talent, the judges and speakers who have joined us in helping these leaders become the best they can be.” 

Day one kicked off at Yahoo’s Sydney office in Eveleigh. Attendees networked, took professional headshots and the chance to hear from industry leaders on their career journeys. UnLtd CEO Chris Freel and Yahoo’s CSR Country Lead Lani Tweddle also sparked an inspiring conversation on how to weave purpose into your day-to-day job. 

Day two saw Rishad Tobaccowala captivate the crowd by sharing about the importance of learning, Briony Benjamin moved everyone to tears with her inspirational recount of how to find a proper work life balance. Nicole Hatherly then ran a hands-on personal branding workshop and Greg ‘Sparrow’ Graham hammered home his hot tips for the perfect pitch.

Attendees were then given 70 minutes to respond to a brief from Whitelion, an Australian charity helping youth at risk. After an intense back to back pitch off, judges Chris Freel (UnLtd), Hang Vo (Whitelion), Gai Le Roy (IAB), Julia Edwards (Yahoo) and Nick Behr (Kaimera) ultimately awarded team ‘Yahoo Yodelers’ with the win.

Pitch winner Joshua Green, Associate Strategy Director at Spark Foundry said of the experience: “Yahoo Academy has been an extraordinary experience made all the more extraordinary by the remarkable individuals I shared it with. As an industry, it’s rare that we have the opportunity to connect and learn from each other across agency brands. Yahoo Academy provided just that. A chance to grow and be inspired by peers. 

“My team’s win is still sinking in to be completely honest. An hour to digest a brief, ideate and present back is no mean feat but the calibre of thinking presented by all groups was exceptional. We’re looking forward to continuing the collaboration with Whitelion and bringing this into the world. 

“A huge thanks to the inspiring thought leaders that guided the way, the team at Whitelion and UnLtd for an absolutely cracker brief and, of course, the inimitable Yahoo team for making the Academy such a success and for giving us the opportunity to continue the adventure at Advertising Week New York later this year!” 

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