Russell Alford


  • Culture Change
  • Financial Services
  • Retail
  • Professional Services.


Russell was Managing Director of Leo Burnett Advertising (Melbourne) for 15 years until 2003. During this period, he was responsible for reversing the fortunes of a failing business – turning it into one of the most successful Burnett offices in the 96-office global network. In fact, the Australian business was winner of Burnett’s coveted “Agency of the Year” award in 2001.

As Managing Director, Russell and his team added a list of blue chip clients including Holden, Peters Ice Cream, Nestle Dairy Foods, Dairy Farmers, Heinz, Australian Unity, Pillsbury, Hallmark, Dulux and Black & Decker to name a few. Over the 15 years he led the agency, turnover grew from A$13M< $55m at its peak.

A key contributor to the success of the business was Russell’s strong commitment to building a powerful culture. He earned the nick-name ‘coach ‘, underlining his determination to train, nurture and develop talent.

Prior to joining Burnett, Russell was a Board Director of D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (Melbourne) for six years – then the 3rd largest advertising agency in Australia. Prior to DMB&B, Russell worked with Ogilvy & Mather in Hong Kong, Jakarta, London, New York, Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.

Before entering advertising, Russell studied law for 12 months.

Russell attributes his success to a strong commitment to personal development. He completed numerous courses/seminars developing skills in a multitude of areas that strengthened his leadership competency and are the basis of his coaching lens today.


  • SMG Coaching, Level 1 (coaching competencies for performance, change, career, EQ)
  • SMG Coaching, Level 2 (Advanced leader as Coach Training, contextual coaching across all psychology theories)
  • SMG Coaching, Level 3 (ELE, LAP, Integral Coaching, CCL benchmarks, LEA)


  • Board Director, Advertising Federation of Australia, VIC (Coordination of AFA graduate training program)
  • Board Director, International Advertising Association
  • TEC member (for 9 years), now an alumni member


  • Travel, movies, walking, cycling, wining and dining


“When Russell and I started working together I was going through a particularly challenging career period. I had recently arrived from the UK and taken on a demanding role where change and the resultant chaos were the key agenda items of the day. Not surprisingly, relationships around me were being challenged.

Russell enabled me to re-focus and see the bigger picture. He is very good at articulating ‘a context’ that underpins key attitude and behaviour change. There is no doubt in my mind that I am a more thoughtful and empowering Leader than I was – before the coaching.”

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