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Ian Elliot


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‘Pitching’ ‘Branding’ 'Staff Engagement' 'Presentation Skills'

Over 30 years in the highly competitive advertising industry, Ian Elliot rose from mail boy to CEO and Chairman of Australia’s biggest agency, George Patterson. He’s a master strategist in brand building and new business acquisition. He was the architect of the Optus Brand, creating the hugely successful “YES” campaign.

Ian draws experience from some of the world’s major companies, his own entrepreneurial endeavors and his learning’s from the Harvard Business School AMP where he was class valedictorian.

Ian is recognized as the advertising industries most successful new business winner. Ian has authored “Stop Bitching, Start Pitching” published by Murdoch Books. It’s the definitive guide to winning big accounts

At just 48 he retired from the advertising industry to focus on his public and private company board responsibilities. He’s been on the boards of several ASX top 200 companies as well as the National Australia Day Council.

Ian is an internationally acclaimed professional keynote speaker and consults to major firms including KPMG, Hills Industries, Village Roadshow and Prime Media.

He also runs 2 day Master Classes in ‘Presentation Skills” and ‘Pitching Skills’

Topics Include

1. Pitching Big Accounts - “Stop Bitching, Start Pitching”

Recognized as the most prolific new business winner in the advertising industry ( $250 million over 4 years) and a 78% win record. He has co authored “Stop Bitching and Start Pitching” (published by Murdoch Books), a book which reveals the secrets to winning major accounts through the complete tender process in ANY industry.

 “Winning major pitches involves much more than simply having a superior offering and a well polished presentation. Winning also requires a deep insight to the full dynamics of the pitch process, a set of disciplines to extract every ounce of opportunity and an understanding of the psyche of both the client and a winning team”

This presentation highlights the importance of developing a winning streak in your company and how to hold that momentum. You will learn how to analyse the opportunity and your potential client on the ‘rational, emotional and strategic levels and then use that analysis to create an unfair advantage.

The 9 steps to winning are the road map that if followed will see your win rate escalate dramatically. You’ll have an energized and motivated team, more clients and higher profits.

2. Staff Engagement & Loyalty - “10 Commandments of Staff Engagement”

Staff engagement is paramount to the success of most businesses, particularly those in the professional services sector. Ian Elliot knows better than most what does and doesn’t work, not just through theory but through practice. Ian puts all his success down to getting the culture right. “Tip the priorities on their head. Yes shareholder responsibility is a priority but I’ve always worked on the premise that if I look after the staff, they’ll look after the customers and the customers will look after the shareholders. Engaged and committed staff will stay longer, clients are stickier if good people are looking after them, profits will follow. Unquestionably there is a direct correlation between staff and client loyalty and profitability “Rising from Mail Boy to CEO of George Patterson’s, the largest advertising and communications business in Australia during his time, Ian maintains that staff engagement through a strong belief in the power of culture is what got Patt’s to the top and kept them there during his entire 30 years with the company.

After 4 years as the MD of the Sydney office of Patt’s he spent his last 4 years as the national CEO and Chairman of the holding company, (The Communications Group). During those 4 years he and his team proved that with the right approach to developing, encouraging and managing your people you CAN HAVE IT ALL.

Proof is in the following facts.

  1. Patt’s was chosen as ‘Agency Employer of the Year’ in 2001.
    "Our staff loved working with us"
  2. Staff stability was at an all time high
    “Staff chose to stay because they were respected and valued."
  3. Client retention was 100% for the 2000 -2002 period.
    "Our customers loved working with us. They never left"
  4. Patt’s won a record $250 million in new business over the 4 years with a staggering 78% win record. (Incredible when you consider there are normally 4 – 6 competitors in each pitch).
    "We were lovable but ruthless when it came to competition. Clients and staff want to be with winners"
  5. The Industry media voted Patt’s ‘Agency of the Century’ in 2000.
    “The media and our peers respected us”.
  6. In his final year Patt’s posted their highest ever profit.
    “Profit and culture are friends not adversaries. You don’t have to choose between happy staff and happy shareholders. One feeds the other.”

Ian’s ‘10 commandments’ presentation is a lively, personable, humorous and poignant look at what it takes to build an environment of trust. “The trust/success/trust/success cycle is a powerful piece of magic. It’s important that you don’t break the spell or like all magic your success can disappear in a puff of smoke”. His presentation is peppered with examples and anecdotes from a successful career in an extremely competitive industry.

3. Marketing Without Money - “Extracting Leverage through Creativity”

This man grew up with feet in both big and small business camps. Rising from mail boy to CEO of Australia’s biggest advertising agency, he used his Harvard taught skills to build some of Australia’s most successful brands, whilst simultaneously developing entrepreneurial businesses in partnership with his brother.

Ian knows what it takes to risk your own money in ventures and how to use guile and thrift when it comes to building successful businesses.  His insights to creating WOW customer experiences have helped hundreds of companies big and small lift their game and build deeper more profitable relationships. His brand building techniques have also helped build millions of dollars in brand equity for organisations.

He is a highly motivating, entertaining and humorous speaker who relates well to his audience, telling his experiences with all of their rawness juxtaposing the sophistication of strategy with the reality of execution.

4. Brand Building – “Unlocking Your Most Valuable Intangible Asset”

 As the architect of the Optus brand ”YES” campaign, and many other icon brands over 30 years, Ian knows why brand building is key to business success and how to help businesses big and small go about building their own brands for profit enhancement. “Brand reputation and brand relationships create much more than just extra sales and inflated margins. They can lessen your distribution costs, improve your cash flows, attract superior talent, and be goodwill in the bank for unforeseen troubled times.

The rules and the tools that Ian shares are straightforward and can be implemented immediately for measurable results.”


‘This was a presentation that made our team think deeply about who they were and what they could achieve with the rest of their lives.
Moray McDonald – Head of Mortgages CITIBANK

"As the leader of Sydney’s successful 2000 Olympic Bid Committee, I employed every strategy I could, to craft the winning pitch. But when it comes to pitching, Ian Elliot is ‘The Maestro” His experience in creating winning business pitches is legendary. He understands the science and the art form, to do what it takes to win. He’s the master persuader".
Rod McGeoch CEO Sydney 2000 Olympic Bid Committee

‘Ian’s speech at the Augusta National Country Club during the Us Masters Golf had the Fortune 500 CEO’s and executives on the edge of their seats. A brilliant speech that did Australia proud” 
Woody Merry- Chairman Organising  Committee Red Carpet Club Georgia Chamber of Commerce for US Masters Golf at Augusta Georgia USA

" Our group is still talking about how valuable your presentation was ... fantastic!"
International Speakers Association Las Vegas

“The feedback from the leadership team was fantastic! The information and ideas you shared with us on cultural change and staff engagement were constantly referred to for the remainder of the off-site. Your style and presentation worked well and the humour you injected was warmly received. You listened to the brief and absolutely delivered to the expectations. You certainly provided food for thought for how we can take the function forward and provided inspiration. You left a lasting impression with the leadership team.” 

“Speakers at our last 2 annual events have been H. Ross Perrot and General Norman Schwarzkopf. Ian’s performance eclipsed them all. Ian delivered an uplifting, funny, poignant and motivating presentation.”
Colonel Edwin Anderson –Chief of Staff John F Kennedy Special Warfare Centre. Fort Bragg North Carolina

"Ian is a master strategist when it comes to winning new business. Our senior management team learnt so much from a full day with him."
Ogilvy & Mather - Shanghai CHINA

'Ian spoke with great enthusiasm and passion to a group of international business leaders. The subject of how to ‘Pitch and win Business’ is close to every business leaders heart. Ian was able to not only speak with authority on the subject, given his track record at Patterson’s, but also able to clearly identify the key areas each of us needs to focus on in order to achieve success in our businesses".
World Presidents Organisation

"Your preparation for our Asian regional conference in Bangkok and attention to the services and needs of our industry excelled. You provided compelling, innovative education to our diverse group, your session accomplished everything! Now we would like to invite you to repeat that performance in Rome for our European Conference."
Prism International

"Ian's talk was both stimulating and thought provoking - any company pitching for large scale projects and creative assignments should listen to him and at the very least read his book!"
Israeli Chamber of Commerce

Warm engaging style, listened to the brief and absolutely delivered to expectations. Great use of 'stories' to bring things to life - left a lasting impression with the leadership team.

"The information you shared was outstanding and you are a fantastic presenter. Your stories were powerful, touching, and the messages very meaningful. Every person that attended said it was one of our most valuable presentations of the year"
President National Speakers Association of America

"Your presentation was energising, insightful and inspiring - we had fantastic feedback"
Dibbs Abbott Stillman / Lawyers

"Thank you for a terrific presentation!"
HLB Mann Judd

"Provided a great way to put together an impromptu speech. Great insight into lifting presentations to a whole new level."
Hills Branded Products , Marketing Manager

" It was fantastic! - Entertaining - educational. I was pushed out of my comfort zone and learnt a raft of new skill sets. I recommend this highly to anyone whose job involves presenting in one form or another".
Hills Industries Business Manager

"This program is must for any person that is engaged in professional services."
Lawlers Accountants , Director.

“It is always a great indication of the impact of the speaker when great bursts of laughter are heard outside the main Plenary room….Ian’s absolute charm is his capacity to draw his audience in with his

stories which enabled people to take valuable learning from the examples given.  Many I spoke with found his information really vibrated with them and they had lots of light bulb moments.   Ian’s natural raconteur style generated genuine emotion, personal reflection and great laughter….a treasure!  Thank you Ian
NESA National Conference


Ian’s career has so far spanned 45 years, broadly divided into 4 segments.

  1. Advertising
    The first 30 years were spent in the advertising agency business, all with what was then Australia’s largest and pre-eminent agency, George Patterson, where he rose from Mail Boy to Chairman and Chief Executive.

    Client Responsibilities included Optus (created ‘Yes’ campaign), Sydney Olympics Communications Strategist, CUB, Nissan, Hyundai, Energizer.

    When he retired from the business at age 48, ‘Patts’ had billings in excess of $1Billion and 1100 staff
  1. Board Directorships
    Following his decision to retire from management roles, he was offered numerous board positions on ASX listed companies. Over the last 15 years he has been Chairman or non-exec director of 7 listed entities with tenures spanning 2 years to 13 years. He has also sat on 4 Advisory boards of private companies, 2 government boards and one national sporting body (NRL Commissioner).
  1. Not for Profits
    Throughout his career Ian has leveraged his skills and relationships for community good. He has a strong social conscience and has sat on numerous charity boards and committees.
  1. Training
    His book ‘Stop Bitching, Start Pitching’ was a best-seller for his publisher Murdoch Books. This led to numerous requests as key note speaker at hundreds of Australian and dozens of international conferences and workshops.


  • Graduate of the AIDC Company Director’s course MAIDC.
  • Graduate of Harvard Business School, Advanced Management Program


ASX Listed

Current Boards

Impelus Ltd – Nov.2017 - current
Non-Executive Chairman. Mobile Embrace Ltd is ASX Listed. It is a technology led Digital Performance Marketing company utilising proprietary technology, tools and data assets globally, to seamlessly target and connect consumers to products they value, generating high quality customer acquisitions for businesses at scale, via online and mobile devices.

McMillan Shakespeare Ltd – 2014 - current
Non-Executive Director. MMS is market leader in the fields of Salary Packaging and Novated Leasing.

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