Our Young Guns profile takes a weekly look at some of the buzzing young talent across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles, people and companies across the buzzing industry.
This time we chat to Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) director of social media Chris Ledlin.
How long have you been in the industry?
Started in media when I was 19 (now 26), moved to tech and now into product at SCA.
Duration in current role/time at the company:
What were you doing before this job and how did you get this gig?
I oversaw Lifestyle and Creator Partnerships at Twitter, based at its Australian HQ.
I had been working with the guys at SCA for about three years on a series of partnerships with Twitter. Mid 2016 they approached me and offered me an amazing opportunity to lead a great team, be really creative and innovative and work across so many amazing brands in SCA (Hit Network, Triple M Network, VEVO and Podcast One).
Define your job in one word:
What were your real and cliché expectations of working in the industry?
- I remember when I first started in media I was amazed how much time and effort actually went into making such a short piece of content for TV or Radio.
- I have so much respect for people who work in breakfast radio. I would never do it again.
- Media is not as glam as everyone thinks.
How does the reality match up?
I have so much creative control in my job and have an amazing team behind me to help me deliver strong strategies across the network. I get to run my own race here and that’s the way I love to operate.
How would you describe what the company does and what does your role involve?
I’m in the product team at SCA, my role as director of social media is to lead the social media strategy across the
business and inspire the content teams. Along with the strategy I think lots about the innovation pipeline, working closely with with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to experiment with new features, tools and content formats.
Another key area of my role is to lead the commercialisation of social, working closely with sales, creative and content teams to craft perfect solutions for our clients.
Best thing about the industry you work in:
It’s all about the energy, creatively and passion. If you’re bored in this industry then you’re in the wrong industry – I’ve always said that.
I love that I’m constantly challenged by such creative minds across the entire media industry.
Any major hard learnings in the job so far?
It’s only been a few months, but I’m amazed at all the different areas at SCA. It’s an incredibly huge business. I’m still learning what everyone does. Coming from the start up environment at Twitter, I was one of their first employee’s in Australia, we eventually made it up to an office of about 45 people. SCA has over 2000 employees, across so many offices in metro and regional Australia, it’s huge.
If you had to switch over to another department, which would it be and why?
I’d probably try my hand in marketing or partnerships. I work really closely with these areas of the business and love the way they operate.
What's exciting you about the industry right now?
Several years ago the term ‘social media’ used to be just a side project that companies didn’t really understand. 2017 is here and it’s fast becoming a key department and factor across so many businesses globally. If you’re not on social, your brand pretty much does not exist.
I also find it fascinating that 10 years ago my job did not even exist. It kind of excites me for what’s ahead for the next people coming up the ranks.
What concerns you about the industry and its future?
There are a handful of media companies that haven’t taken on the digital / social boom yet. These guys (won’t name them) are still doing social and digital so poorly. It’s sad to see because they are just being left behind and it will be really hard to play catch up.
Who's your right hand person/who guides you day to day?
Chris Johnson (head of digital product at Southern Cross Austereo). Chris has been at SCA for several years now; he has a wealth of experience in digital and product. He’s formally from the BBC Radio in the UK, a radio network so many media companies look to everyday.
And your almighty mentor that you hope to dethrone?
I’d say my first boss at Twitter – Danny Keens. Danny has so much experience, he’s worked at 60 Minutes, started the Media Partnerships team at Twitter in Australia, went to the US to lead the entire Sports team at Twitter and is now killing it in California working as the vice president of NextVR.
He bought me over from the Nine Network and helped me climb the ladders and got me to shine at Twitter. Danny is an incredible mentor and friend to me, he helped me make my decision to leave an amazing role at Twitter and take this step up at SCA.
Career-wise, where do you see yourself in 2020 and how do you plan on getting there?
I actually set some goals only a few months ago when I was transitioning from Twitter to SCA. I think it’s always good have goals to look forward.
I’d say in three years I’d like to have achieved some pretty cool things at SCA. My aim is to leave my stamp on some cool innovative stuff. Watch this space...
But, the ultimate goal is to build out a business and/or go spend a bit of time in London.
What is the elephant in the room? The thing that no one is talking about – but they should be.
There are still so many people across the media industry that see no value in social/digital. It’s a challenge for anyone in digital or social role ... people say this to me every week.
My message to these people: Don’t be scared of change, because it’s here to stay.
Where do you turn for inspiration?
Multiple areas. I learn lots from listening to podcasts. I also love the culture out of Silicon Valley – there are many people across the tech world I look to. Katie Jacobs Stanton, former VP of Global Media at Twitter and such an amazing business woman (Katie and I worked together at Twitter) and Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook of course.
I think it’s important to have mentors through your journey of life, across different areas (career and personal).
Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I have a fascination with the property market. When I have downtime I have a whole page on my phone with real-estate apps. Since buying my first investment property I can’t stop searching for the next one.
Favourite advert is:
I love Apple’s series of adverts in late 2016 promoting ‘Apple Music’ – especially the one with James Corden. Apple has really struggled with the Spotify but I think these did justice for the brand.
What’s your personal motto?
‘A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows here’
I got into industry because:
I didn’t want to just stare at a computer all day long, so I pushed and pushed and I got in working for Kyle and Jackie O in 2009, moved over to the Nine Network and worked my way up the ranks there and then got the most incredible opportunity to be one of Twitter Australia’s first employee’s.
I’ve done content, partnerships/marketing and now product at SCA. I’ve been challenged in every job I’ve had, that’s extremely important to me.
If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:
A pilot – I love planes or a physiotherapist, the human body fascinates me.
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