Dutch courage

Here’s one you might like – what do you call a Dutchman in a Thai street food restaurant in Surrey Hills, Sydney?

Well this one was Arie Westerduin and I was meeting him to find out about his observations during his first 6 months working in Australia.


Arie made the brave move across to Croud’s Sydney office about 7 months ago, having never visited Australia before. He’d worked for Croud’s business in London – when the Australian office was looking to expand last year, Arie needed no further invitation.

After leaving Holland and spending 5 years in the UK, Arie was ready to experience a different market. Australia wasn’t the only choice for Arie, but was a fairly obvious one  – “It was just a bit of an easy option, largely due to the skills shortage in digital and the fact that it’s an English speaking country.”

So what did he make of it so far?

“Arriving here wasn’t much of a culture shock because half the industry is British” he begins, “London’s a much more competitive market though and I think it’s easier to make your mark here.” Grant had said something similar when I met him last week – I was beginning to think I was on to something… “There’s less competition here and the size means it’s easier to stand out if you’re good at your job.”

“The educational role is definitely bigger here than in the UK”, this is largely because a lot of clients rely on generalist marketing teams to run digital alongside the broader marketing mix. “Clients need a certain level of spend to justify an in-house specialist and it’s not there at the moment.” We’ve got a pretty advanced in-house market in the UK and this can impact the sophistication of the work and the pace of development.

The talent is in the market, the difference is that it’s a heavily agency-led market at the moment, with fewer specialists are sitting in-house. “They probably rely on us a little more” observes Arie, “And I think it’s easier to establish trusted partner level relationships here as a result.” He puts this down to the relative size of the marketing teams and the level of digital knowledge.

Arie believes that his experience in Sydney is going to be good for his career. With a receptive but comparatively un-savvy market, there’s serious scope to influence change over here. In his words: “The market’s really what you make of it.”