Women In Media: It’s Carat Melbourne’s Head of Digital Sian Whitaker

Women In Media: It’s Carat Melbourne’s Head of Digital Sian Whitaker
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What best describes you?

That’s right dear readers, it’s that time again when we start profiling the fantastic women working in our industry in the lead up to our Women in Media awards. We’re checking out the dedicated, driven and downright innovative ladies from all over the media landscape. And you can catch even more fab women in the latest issue of B&T Magazine. Today, however, it’s all about Carat Melbourne’s head of digital, Sian Whitaker.

Describe your average day?

My day always varies which I love, however I always starts with a coffee. Our office is in South Melbourne so I have a fantastic choice of great places to get my morning coffee fix.

My work day then usually starts with an 8.30am catch up with one of our media partners because this is the best time to catch up before the real mayhem of the day begins.

What’s the most challenging thing about your job?

Balancing the competing priorities of my role can be very challenging. I need to manage the needs of my staff, our clients and external partners. All of these relationships are critical to my team’s success so it is a constant juggling act trying to ensure everyone stays happy.

What drives you?

What really matters to me are people. Whether it be in my personal life or at work I want to make a positive difference to them and their lives. Sure, I work in the advertising industry, and I get paid for what I do.

I help organisations re-position themselves in the ever expanding world of digital marketing and help to set up their business for future success. But the real difference I want to make is to people.

I want to ensure my team enjoys coming to work and are looked after. In this industry we spend so much time at work it is so important that we create an enjoyable environment for our staff. I firmly believe a high achieving culture leads to a high performing team and this is something I am really passionate about.

I’m also driven by a need to be the best I can be. I don’t want to be average. The way I see it, life is too short to not be extra-ordinary, to not be remarkable, to not be awesome.

What has been your favourite job in media and why?

They have all been great and provided me fantastic experience however I did love when I started my career in digital when I started at ninemsn back in 2006. Back then digital advertising was in the very early stages when msn messenger and the portals dominated.

It was a really exciting period as we were all learning the role digital played and how to measure and best execute it. I made some great friends and connections in these early years of which a lot of them now are key leaders in the market. It certainly was a lot simpler back then, long live the mrec!

What’s your proudest professional moment?

Winning the Medibank account last year as well as Carat winning the Media Agency of the Year.

What’s your quirkiest attribute?

I have a huge love of action films. I was one of three girls and our dad took us to the movies to see every single action and horror movie released. It surprises people that some of my favourite movies are Bloodsport, Rocky, Terminator, Aliens and Silence of the Lambs.

I was an extremely picky eater when I was younger. I didn’t like vegetables, fruit, cereal, roasts add more. I didn’t even like pizza and fish and chips. I think I lived off Vegemite sandwiches and omelettes my dad made.

I am happy to report that my eating habits have undergone a complete 180 since then. I even eat kale and broccoli (much to the horror of my sisters).

One thing no one knows about you?

I was a champion junior tennis player. Our local competition was unisex so I played singles in A-grade against boys much older and much stronger than me and I beat them. I even made a few cry on the court.

I won the equivalent of the competition’s Brownlow Medal (the Jean Regan Memorial trophy) twice. To this day I’m still the only person to have achieved that. I was also rocking a long blonde plait on the tennis court well before Anna and Maria #justsaying.

What are advertising/marketing’s biggest challenges or threats?

Competition and fragmentation of the market. Users are now consuming content whenever and however they want and it is a lot harder to reach them.

Brands need to ensure they are selecting the right channels to reach these people and also customising their communication for each channel. A lot of advertisers are still learning how to effectively use Digital as a broadcast medium and must not take a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Hardest lesson you’ve had to learn (in or out of workforce)?

Coping with the sudden loss of my beloved mum, Joan, when I was in my early 20s. It’s very hard to try and attempt to move on with life when a piece of your heart has gone. The thought of having to go through life’s significant events like marriage and having kids without her being here has been very scary and upsetting.

My mum, however, raised me to be a strong and independent woman. She never set limitations for me, she was my rock and it’s because of her and the values that she gave me that I have been able to keep going and have found happiness and success in life. I always want to make her proud of me.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee for sure.

Cats or dogs?

Dogs, not a fan of cats. I am a little obsessed with my dog, Walter the British Bulldog, who is ridiculously cute.

Guilty pleasure?

Anything to do with chocolate, I must eat it every day. I would like it noted my dad makes the best chocolate milkshakes in the world.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I have always wanted to be in a rock band and play bass. The only stumbling block at the moment to me achieving this dream is that I have never picked up a bass….

What profession would you not like to do?

I couldn’t be a vet I would just cry all day seeing sick animals.

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