Young Gun: Essence head of media Stephanie Shang

3 September 2020

Our Young Gun profile takes a look at some of the young talent across the advertising, adtech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles, people and companies across the buzzing industry.

Today we speak to Essence head of media, Australia Stephanie Shang.

Time at the company:
One year.

How long have you been in the industry?
Eight years.

How did you get here? Was this always the plan?
I started a professional accounting degree in university and shifted to marketing because I wasn’t always a fan of numbers. Little did I know I’d be spending my first few years in the media industry neck-deep in numbers! While I didn’t quite develop a knack for balancing ledgers, I really enjoyed working with numbers in the context of media and marketing. We have access to so many different types of data and analytics, such as financial figures, client business results, campaign results and research data. I think it’s important to be able to unpack variance, outliers and trends in the numbers to help inform all aspects of media.

Who is your right hand person?
Brett Carson, who is the client service lead on Essence’s Google business in Australia. We’re like burgers and french fries - better together. Special snaps for Sid Nair and Jamarr Mills on the Essence team too, who teach me so much and make up the other half of our local leadership quartet on the Google account.

What’s the best thing about the industry you work in?
Not only the professional side of things, which I love, but it also helped me cross paths with two pretty important people in my life - my husband and best friend!

And the biggest challenge?
Maintaining the right balance between breadth versus depth of knowledge in the varied and ever-growing number of disciplines, channels and partners that make up the advertising landscape.

Whose job have you set your sights on in the future?
Melissa Leong’s in MasterChef Australia. Who doesn’t want to get paid to eat delectable food? It’s her passion and she’s informed, articulate and inspiring. On a more serious note, I’m not sure if the job I want in the future exists yet. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us how quickly we can all adapt to a new way of working and the important role that tech plays in how we thrive in crisis. Consequently, businesses are changing their operating models and human capital needs for good. My plan is to keep an open mind and continue to acquire the skills necessary to be successful for this future.

Where do you turn for inspiration?
Thankfully, I don’t have to look too far for inspiration! A lot of it comes from my colleagues and mentors at Essence and GroupM. I’m very fortunate to work in a role that allows me to exchange ideas and learn from some of the best minds regardless of geographical borders. The teams I work with are so diverse and I really cherish the opportunity to build an understanding of different cultures and ideologies as part of my job.

My favourite advert is: 
Creatively, I feel that anything Aldi produces is gold. Special shoutout to the 2017 tomato and basil sauce commercial.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I like reading about conspiracy theories before bed.

In five years' time I'll be:
Continuing to build and create, learn from the best, coach and empower a team, and consult with brands that want to deliver genuine impact. It’s hard to say for certain, so I try to stay focused on doing and being, rather than the title and job description.


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