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Here's the Scoop: Tobias Johnstone

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

Tobias is the General Manager of Content and Growth, REA Group

1. Why did you choose advertising/marketing as a career path?

My original career path was journalism, writing stories at the Sydney Morning Herald and doing my best to find a story worthy of page 1. While I loved (and still love) journalism, over time I realised that my passion was really storytelling, which when wielded successfully can take you to a myriad of interesting places. Great marketers are great storytellers. It's about the ability to influence people through compelling and engaging narratives.

At the same time leadership is also about storytelling. Look around you and you'll see the best CEOs are also inspiring storytellers, people with an innate ability to rally people around a concept, a goal or an idea.

2. What's the best advice you'd give to your younger self who's just started their career?

People who are lucky tend to also work really hard. Opportunities come to people who aren't afraid to put their head down and deliver impactful work. My advice would be don't look at the structures around you and see them as permanent. Things change, people move on, entire industries can shift overnight - your ability to positively ride and benefit from change comes down to whether you've proven your value in the lead up to it.

3. What do you look for when hiring young people?

A growth mindset is the number one thing I look for when hiring. People have an amazing capacity to up-skill and learn quickly, so what's more valuable than an impressive CV is a mind that is curious, that learns from mistakes, that wants to be challenged and is hungry for feedback.

4. How do I make my resume stand out?

The ability to relay important information in the most concise way possible is a real skill, which is particularly valuable when a hiring manager is reviewing dozens of CVs. Focus on the most important experiences and achievements you want the hiring manager to know about and include a link to your LinkedIn or portfolio for the rest. Remember, your CV is not your full application, it is a tool to get you in the room with the hiring manager so be deliberate with the information you focus on. I also think a cover letter goes a long way - it illustrates that you don't just want a job, you want this job.

5. What skills have been most beneficial for you?

Leadership. I truly believe it's something that can be taught. Our industry is full of highly intelligent people but what separates good from the great is their leadership. Learn to lead and you'll go far.

6. Do you need a degree?

Get into the detail and that detail is found in data. The ability to confidently use data is both critical in deciding on a path forward as well illustrating the value of the decisions you've made.

Public speaking is also a hugely beneficial skill. Whether it is the ability to clearly communicate an idea you're seeking endorsement for, or creating moments that matter with your team, confidence in public speaking is a real asset.

7. What was a key lesson you learnt in your career to date?

Leadership is not about the leader, it's about your team. The most impactful thing you can do is inspire and empower talented people to deliver great work - it's how you all move forward.

8. Have your reasons for joining the industry changed over time?

My passion for the industry is based on challenge, learning and impact. While over time those challenges will change, what you learn will evolve, and the size of your impact will increase, those three core drivers remain.

9. Have you ever failed? How did you react?

Sure, plenty. Early in my career I made the mistake of believing subject matter expertise and leadership were closely related. If you mix those up, you can end up with a disempowered team. Leadership isn't about being an expert and telling people what to do, it's about developing the skills and experience to help people discover the path forward for themselves.

The key point about failure is that it's only valuable if you learn and grow on the back of it. See your failures not as a step backwards, but as a critical part of being able to step forward.

10. If you had the chance to re-do your career knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

I would have actively sought mentorship earlier. Throughout your career you'll naturally find great mentors in managers and colleagues, but there is huge value in early exposure to a diversity of thought and experience. Your leadership style isn't given to you, it's built based on the combination of your beliefs and values and your ability to learn from people who successfully wields theirs.

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