Talent Champion – Denis Budniewski

Talent Champion Spotlight

2022 AEF Talent Champion - Denis Budniewski

Denis Budniewski
Director of Marketing, Agency Strategy & Production Transformation
Verizon

Denis joined Verizon three years ago to lead the agency management team as part of the CMO
organization. He is responsible for agency strategy, investment, eco-system modeling, talent and performance management, identifying best-in-class partners and diversity within the creative supply chain for all Verizon business units. Over the past year, Denis worked closely with Verizon leadership to develop the Responsible Marketing Action Plan which drove spending with diverse owned production and media companies, hiring diverse directors and increasing diverse representation within Verizon’s external advertising agencies.

Prior to Verizon, Denis was the Chief Client Officer at Omnicom’s, We Are Unlimited agency,
responsible for the strategic, creative and production output for founding client, McDonald’s. His
teams generated record same store sales growth, successfully launched several new products
such as Buttermilk Crispy Tenders which sold out in days, helped expand into app-based delivery and led iconic advertising initiatives such as “The Flip” celebrating International Women’s Day which garnered 6 Cannes Lions and 6 D&AD Pencils.

 

What prompted you to get involved with the AEF?

Marketing is something I’m incredibly passionate about and I wanted to help students learn more about our industry. I got involved with the AEF over 20 years ago and have loved my opportunities to help professors at schools around the country with their marketing courses and interacting with their students.

Why are you passionate about the future of the industry?

There is so much change happening with marketing right now and I love it. While things like storytelling, developing a cohesive messaging strategy, etc. remain the same, how you reach consumers has and still is changing everyday. And for someone who likes to learn and be at the forefront of what’s new, that’s an exciting place to be.

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

Listen first. It’s not about fighting for air time, or being first to speak or speaking the loudest. You’ve got to take the time to truly listen to what someone is saying or understand the context of what’s being asked. When you realize that, you’ll operate differently and be more effective.

Why do you feel it is so important to inspire the next generation of diverse talent?

I am extremely passionate about bringing diversity to marketing and it’s a big part of my job at Verizon. For far too long, key marketing and agency roles were filled by Caucasian males, but that’s not representative of the US population. Marketing organizations and agencies should be as diverse as the customers they market their products to.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the work I’ve done to help lead Verizon’s Responsible Marketing Action Plan to drive DE&I in our marketing organization. We have initiatives with KPIs that are making a big difference from our creative supply chain representation and spend to programs that are building the pipeline for the future generation of marketers.

What advice would you give to students as they consider entering the industry?

My advice to students is to learn about all the different aspects of marketing, both agency and client side. There are so many different roles and career paths available and there’s never been a more exciting time to be in this industry.

"Inspiration is everywhere, and if you can't see it you're not looking hard enough."
— Cliff Courtney, Chief Marketing Officer, Zimmerman Advertising