Greg Graham is inducted into the Hall of Fame at the 2022 MFA Awards

Greg Graham

Sparrow: “Never ever did I think that one day it would be me up here”

Greg Graham was inducted into the MFA Hall of Fame at the 2022 MFA Awards, held at the Royal Randwick Sydney on Thursday.

Graham, better known in the industry as Sparrow, has been recognised for his passion and contribution to the industry and his unparalleled generosity in training and nurturing the careers of many up-and-coming rising stars in the industry.

“I have sat at so many tables where you are now. Sometimes in tears at the incredible icons that have shaped our industry and are inducted into the MFA Hall of Fame,” he said.  

“Never ever did I think that one day it would be me up here. I’m genuinely honoured to receive this award and a heartfelt,” he said in gratitude for the recognition.

Graham recalled getting his start in the industry 50 years ago at McCann’s despatch department and mail room.

“I was a country bumpkin from Wauchope and still vividly remember going for the interview at Caltex House and the elevator door opening and seeing all these trophy cabinets filled with shiny Awards.

“They grabbed my attention as I used to cut the coupon out of TV Week and vote for the Logies Awards – the best TV commercial, normally for Coke – and here were the actual Logies… I wanted this job so bad!”
Graham’s long and esteemed career has seen him work at McCann, DDB, Burnetts, JWT, Mindshare, GroupM and WPP. He has worked with big-name clients such as News Corp, Fox FM, Kraft, Ford, and Disney.
Since his last role as group marketing director at WPP, Graham has set up and run his own company – The Nest Consultancy – where he coaches, mentors, and shapes the next generation of talent in the industry. More recently, he joined
Mediaweek as a contributing editor.

Greg Graham MFA Hall of Fame inductee
“I have loved this industry, and I still do. It’s become my livelihood, my friends, my family, my entertainment, and my passion,” he said.

Graham said that while he has enjoyed a lifetime of incredible experiences during his career, the industry should note three key points.
“The industry is ageist, and we need to do better at addressing this diversity issue. Less than 5% of people in the industry are over 50; at my age, I am a unique survivor. We need to value our wisdom, experience, and sharing of knowledge. I’ll be working with the MFA DE&I committee to address this issue moving forward.”
Graham shared that people in the industry need to draw on resilience. “I’ve had many career highlights, in particular my seven years in New York City with Mindshare. However, it was bittersweet as my dad unexpectedly passed away during this time, and I didn’t get to say goodbye.
“It hasn’t always been easy – being made redundant after 26 years with WPP was a shock. I was devastated but bounced back because I still have things to do. I’m not redundant yet!
“I’m still excited about learning every day. The truth is I’ve never been busier. Some of you may see an old white guy who loves lobster rolls. However, I am a resilient person who’s still energetic, relevant and passionate.
Graham’s third point was to reduce churn and ensure that the best talent stays in the industry.
“I was a loyal GroupM person for decades and know outstanding leadership, training, and development, plus an ambitious career plan kept me engaged all that time,” he said.
“I am living proof that this amazing industry can deliver a fabulous, rewarding lifelong career! Like the MFA, I want my legacy to be as a changer!” Graham added.

Top image: Greg Graham

Greg Graham MFA Hall of Fame inductee

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