MediaPost 2006 Online All Star: Sean Finnegan

Humble and Unstoppable

Sean Finnegan, U.S. Director, OMD Digital, a unit of OMD Worldwide

Ask anyone at OMD Digital or any of the agency's clients about Sean Finnegan and they're effusive: He's a visionary and a people person; a great leader, motivator, and team player. He's got a big heart but a small ego. And he has more energy than the Energizer Bunny after 10 cups of coffee. It's no wonder he's risen through the ranks to the leading U.S. position at the digital business unit of OMD Worldwide.

"Sean has a vision for this business, where it's going and what that means to our business, and that's so important," says Page Thompson, CEO-North America for OMD Worldwide. "And he's not just caught up in the technology; he understands how to use it as a tool in the advertising process."

Finnegan became U.S. director of OMD Digital two years ago, after serving two years as the unit's Midwest director. He also oversees OMD's media service, Next, and he was recently appointed to the firm's North America Operating Council and named global coordinator for all of OMD Digital's worldwide offerings. He has grown the business from seven to 150 employees and from 10 to more than 60 accounts, including FedEx, AOL, Dell, Bank of America, McDonald's, and United Airlines. Billings have risen from $25 million into the triple-digit millions.

Says Steve Pacheco, director of advertising for FedEx Services, "We wanted to attach ourselves to influencers, and [Finnegan] always came out at the top of the list. He has a tireless work ethic. I've never seen anyone go at it as hard as he does, day in and day out. It's easy to get energized around him because of his passion and enthusiasm."

Finnegan's leadership also contributed greatly to the AOL win. "[OMD] didn't come in and try to tell us that they knew everything and we didn't," says John Lane, senior vice president of online marketing at AOL. "They paid attention to things that were already working well and built on that."

Finnegan started his career in the early 1990s working in spot TV and print at BBDO, New York, but quickly shifted to new media as the Web grew in importance. He worked at several digital agencies before becoming media director for Omnicom's Tribal DDB Chicago in 2001. A year later, Omnicom formed OMD and offered Finnegan the Midwest director position. He was honored as a Mediaweek All Star in 2005.

Apart from his professional accomplishments, Finnegan's greatest achievement is his family. He and his wife, Melody, have five children ranging from 2 to 12 years old, and there's another due in January.

Just 35, Finnegan is humble about his responsibilities. "Anyone who meets me will understand that I'm very approachable and all about the relationship and the ideas," Finnegan says. "I don't micromanage. I trust the people who work for me and let them do their jobs, and I think they thrive on that.

"Everyone in the digital group comes in every day and reinvents themselves -- stays five steps ahead of the curve and puts out killer campaigns and case studies that make an impact." A reward like the All Star designation, he says, is a reflection of teamwork.

Says Pacheco, "As a trusted and valued partner of FedEx, he's more than doing his job there. We're glad to have him on board."