Talent Champion – Kristen Metzger

Talent Champion Spotlight

AEF Talent Champion - Kristen Metzger

Kristen Metzger
Chief People Officer, Head of People & Culture

Kristen Metzger is the chief people officer, head of people & culture at Wavemaker, a global media agency. Metzger started her career in media, where she spent 23 years in various roles – from inside the agency (media planning, strategy, content development, digital investment, operations/growth for clients such as Procter and Gamble, Coca-Cola and Walmart) and on the client side (L’Oreal and Cadbury). Along the way, her passion for finding and engaging great talent grew.

Metzger’s impact on the company has been significant. Wavemaker has won the very prestigious M&M Global Talent Award two years in a row; in 2017, for “Disrupting the Talent Paradigm”; and in 2018, for diversity and inclusion work “Brave Your Bias”. She has led Wavemaker to two Project Isaac Awards for HR Invention, earned a spot on Fortune’s “Great Places to Work” list, has achieved Ad Age’s Best Places to Work status twice, won AAF’s Mosaic Award for championing Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace and won an award for Best Onboarding Experience from Digiday.

What prompted you to get involved with the AEF and why are you passionate about the future of the industry?

I have found that one of the most rewarding things I’ve had the privilege of doing has been to give someone their first job. We all have that memory – who we met, what we were wearing, the feeling of excitement and relief when we heard we got the job. Creating that memory and that opportunity for someone is truly a privilege. The young people I meet are so inspiring, their paths so different from one another’s, their life challenges so different from mine. It is daunting to enter the workforce, especially now. So we’ve thought a lot about how to make that transition easier, how to prepare people sooner, for the jobs they ultimately want and that’s how we came to be connected to AEF. We participated in the Visiting Professor Program to form connections with professors, building a bridge to their talented students, and educating them on what we are up to so that their curriculum could include subjects that address the modernization of the media world.

What is the best career advice you've ever received?

Be courageous. I was given many opportunities in my career that I seldom felt ready for. But the things that scared me the most turned out to be the greatest opportunities of my career.

Who was your favorite professor and why?

Professor Jane Kolodinsky at University of Vermont. I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living and there’s so much pressure on choosing a major and finding your lane. I finally attended one of her classes and was fascinated. It was a class on Consumer Behavior and was one of the classes that I most looked forward to each week. I felt something click and that I finally found what I wanted to do. She was also a very dynamic teacher – early in her career, very relatable, always on her feet, running around the classroom.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Feeling as though I have a hand in helping people. Helping them land their first job, helping them navigate their career, watching them grow and succeed. It gives me purpose and fulfillment.

"Our future marketing and advertising leaders are not just looking for a job, they are looking for a meaningful career that will make a positive impact on society."
— Gord McLean, President and CEO at ANA Educational Foundation