Emma is the CEO of Tourism South Australia
1. Why did you choose advertising/marketing as a career path?
Ever since primary school where I created my own business DAEMCO (A combination of my brothers name, my name and my best friends name) and sold shares in our company I signed as Marketing Director (not sure how I knew what that was in grade 2 in the 1980s). I was drawn to marketing as it combines both art and science. Later in life and starting a career I chose marketing as it touches every part of the business, its future focused and value creating. Its quite a diverse discipline area with many specialties and spans most industries.
2. What's the best advice you'd give to your younger self who's just started their career?
Be curious and that every opportunity is a learning opportunity. I started off with my first full top job being a marketing assistant in a small family run exporting business. I was the receptionist, the office admin support, the sales coordinator, marketer and coffee maker all in one and while I felt frustrated at times that I couldn't dedicate my whole work day to sales and marketing, on reflection the administrative tasks laid a great foundation to build other 'office professional' experiences and skills. Every learning opportunity is valuable.
3. What do you look for when hiring young people?
I look for people that are passionate, engaged and connected to the role and company I am hiring for. This includes having and understanding of what the business does and why they are motivated to work in the role and for the business. I am also looking for curiosity and a willingness to learn as well as contributing their own thinking and experiences.
4. How do I make my resume stand out?
For the actual resume itself I like a well formatted document that is easy to read and has been proofread. As a communications-based industry, if you are unable to communicate effectively then I am more likely to be worried about how that translates into the workplace. I like it when there is some creativity added to this, so whether it’s the covering letter, a quote or purpose statement or some other attention-grabbing inclusion. At the end of the day, I want to get an understanding of who you are and that you can follow application instructions!
5. What skills have been most beneficial for you?
I have been quite lucky that I have built a solid foundation of broader business skills that I have been able to use in a wide range of roles and scenarios. So much of what we do today is interrelated so having an understanding (even if its just a general understanding) of things like sales cycles, tenders, risk, negotiation, contracts, systems implementation, change management, project management, international protocols etc enables you to leverage these and draw upon them as you build your career.
6. Do you need a degree?
Strictly speaking no but it does depend on the role and organisation. Degrees show that you have a baseline level of knowledge and that you have the discipline to study and complete the course. I believe that on the job training and experience and a proven track-record in real life scenarios are just as if not more valuable as a degree when applied to the role. I believe our experience and knowledge should be well rounded between formal qualifications, on the job training and through proven delivery.
7. What was a key lesson you learnt in your career to date?
It's taken me way too long to learn this lesson so am sharing it here so that others can learn about it more quickly in their career than I have. I have always put the work, task and output as central to my focus and that people sat around the periphery of that. I now realise that people are the work and are often more important than the task. It's simple and may be obvious to everyone else. Building relationships isn't frivolous its absolutely essential to achieving more over a longer period.
8. Have your reasons for joining the industry changed over time?
When I originally joined, I was probably thinking more about it being a discipline/function area within an organisation and had that view. As I have worked in the industry and matured in my outlook and thinking the reason is broader now, it’s about making positive impact and change beyond the bounds of any one organisation. It’s still a future focussed discipline area probably more than ever marketing, and advertising tackles the trends in human behaviour before most other disciplines within a normal business so our role of bringing this knowledge is increasingly important.
9. Have you ever failed? How did you react?
One incident earlier on in my career was at a function representing the organisation with some new colleagues and our CEO. We were hosting a group of international clients. I spent most of the event engaging with my colleagues. The next day the CEO called me into his office and asked how I thought the event went. He then said that if I wanted to be the organisations Marketing Manager then I was going to have to engage with our clients! I went straight downstairs where they were having a tour and morning tea to properly meet and greet them.
10. If you had the chance to re-do your career knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
Looking back over the twenty plus years of my career I would spend more time working with different businesses in different places both in Australia and overseas. I think a range of skills are important to today's rapidly changing and interconnected marketplace but equally important is cultural context and market exposure. It's so easy to operate in a bubble which isn't going to serve us well into the future.