Rufus Powered by Initiative appoints Sarah O’Leary as Managing Director and Tom Cumberworth as Head of Partnerships

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Rufus Powered by Initiative appoints Sarah O’Leary as Managing Director and Tom Cumberworth as Head of Partnerships

Media agency Initiative has announced the appointment of Sarah O’Leary as managing director, Rufus Powered by Initiative (Rufus). O’Leary is joined on the senior leadership team by Tom Cumberworth, appointed as head of partnerships.


Rufus is Amazon’s dedicated media and communications agency working across retail, device, Flex, Amazon Web Services and Prime Video.

Melissa Fein, CEO Initiative Australia said after a robust search and selection process she was delighted to welcome both O’Leary and Cumberworth to Rufus, who together bring specialist skills to the table and are charged with delivering high performance outcomes for Amazon: “Sarah has a proven track record of leading senior stakeholder relationships and delivering business growth in today’s complex and fast-moving market. We’re delighted she has accepted the opportunity to lead Rufus at a pivotal time in the agency’s growth and momentum.”

Considered an outstanding industry leader with a people-first attitude, O’Leary has a strong media investment background garnered from 15-years in senior management and director roles both agency and marketing-side.

Previously with Atomic 212 as head of client service and planning, O’Leary’s strengths lie in her leadership qualities and deep understanding of how media agencies operate within the ANZ landscape.

Prior to Atomic, O’Leary was business director at Havas Melbourne where she surpassed digital acquisition goals for Momentum Energy and led the agency to win Best Integrated Campaign at Festival of Media APAC for 1000 Girls, World Vision campaign.

Says Fein: “Sarah is a results-driven leader with a reputation for managing large clients. Her leadership skills, professional drive and understanding of the industry means she is the ideal person to lead as we enter Rufus’ next evolutionary phase.”

Says O’Leary: “Initiative’s and Rufus’ strong market reputation for both product and culture is second to none; this coupled with both agencies enjoying a strong growth trajectory made the opportunity to join the team an opportunity of a lifetime.

“I am passionate about consumer behaviour and love to delve into data to solve business problems; and I’m looking forward to driving and developing market leading solutions for Amazon and its brands through innovation, collaboration and partnership.”

As newly appointed head of Partnerships, Cumberworth’s primary remit will be to lead senior media partner relationships and deliver strong growth outcomes for Amazon. Additionally, he will play a key leadership role spearheading negotiation strategy and investment decisioning on all Rufus client negotiations and activations.

With nearly 15-years of global and local experience, Cumberworth was previously group trading director at OMD Sydney where he led the Suncorp Group business, overseeing the investment strategy and decisioning for the entire portfolio across all media. Previously he was with Mindshare and MEC in the UK commencing in 2008 as a TV buyer and moving to an account director role working on clients such as Nike, News Corp, 3 Mobile and Kimberly Clark to name a few.

Says Fein: “Tom is an outstanding team leader with a raft of global and local experience managing and leading specialist buying teams across all media platforms, inclusive of TV, VOD, OOH, Radio and more. He will play a leading role in Rufus, Amazon and our media partners’ future successes.

“Sarah and her team have an established industry reputation for craft, creative innovation, and client servicing and I’m confident with their industry knowledge and zeal for innovation and solving client problems, combined with the calibre of the Rufus team, that the agency will be well positioned to bring the full spectrum of its capabilities to life. I look forward to seeing what a difference they will make to the business.”

O’Leary and Cumberworth’s appointments are effective immediately.