Women In Media: It’s CEO Of The Catalogue Association Kellie Northwood

Women In Media: It’s CEO Of The Catalogue Association Kellie Northwood

Kellie Northwood, CEO, Australasian Catalogue Association and executive director of TSA Limited, an industry organisation raising awareness about the environmental and effectiveness credentials of paper and print. Kellie is also the director of Sierra Delta, a brand and communications agency based in Richmond, Melbourne.

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My proudest career moment was launching the Value of Paper and Print campaign last year…
It was a long time coming and a lot of sweat and tears to build a campaign that promoted print as a relevant, effective and sustainable media channel. Too many times I have cringed and bitten my tongue when I’ve heard comments that ‘print is dead’ or ‘print is extinct’. The reality is print is one of the largest media channels globally and remains relevant and powerful when influencing, engaging and building trust with consumers. The Value of Paper and Print campaign provides a platform for all the research, case studies and content that is otherwise not reported to provide marketers and brand agents some verifiable data about the strengths of print media and how to use it to deliver the best results.

I’m a huge fan of Charmaine Moldrich and love the work she is doing with the Outdoor Media Association…
I also have a complete professional crush on Ita Buttrose – a lady in every sense of the word and her determination to succeed is truly inspiring.

I love the diversity and creativity of the media and marketing industries…
Every campaign brings new scope to explore. I’m passionate about communication and am intrigued by how people communicate whether via body language, words, gestures, expressions or from a marketing sense by the choices they make either via what or how they purchase products. People are captivating in their unique approaches to life.

I’ve always said a true leader has two ears and one mouth and is committed to listening…
I believe in my team; every team member is an individual with their own story. Understanding who is part of your team helps understand their strengths, weaknesses and motivations. I always say to my team we are more than position descriptions and job titles, we’re people who collectively use our strengths to deliver projects for our clients. I also think real leaders are able to make a decision based on courage or even ‘gut’ rather than politics or bureaucracy. I’m a firm believer of ‘it’s better to make a decision, than not make one at all’. It you get it wrong then it can be fixed, however if you never make a decision, you never move forward.

Part of this is also being able to admit you have made a mistake. I recall for the first few years of my career I was very defensive and would never want to admit to getting something wrong. I then worked with a terrific CEO who did the most astonishing thing at a company-wide briefing – he admitted he had made a mistake. After apologising, he then outlined how the business was going to correct this error. The reality was a lot of the advisory board and project team members had let the CEO down in the first instance, however he was very clear as the CEO responsibility was with him to accept the error and implement a solution. This was a very defining moment in my career.

A stand out marketing campaign for me is the McCann ‘Dumb Ways To Die’…
From creativity with animated characters, a jingle and the quirky humour it was entirely engaging. However, what I really loved about this campaign was the execution across all media platforms – I felt it was faultless and applaud the team for their campaign on train safety. The team successfully implemented across digital, outdoor, print, gaming and more and each time understanding enough about the strengths of each media channel to apply the creative powerfully across all these channels. Hats off.

If I could change anything about the industry, I’d put more focus on media’s results as opposed to focusing on new media toys as the ‘Holy Grail’…
Some call them ‘Traditional Medias, I prefer ‘Established Medias continue to deliver strong and powerful results, yet the majority of coverage and discussion focuses on new medias without much evidence of success. The multiple channels we now have at our disposal as marketers brings great opportunity, but also responsibility to ensure we get the balance right. In years gone by we had three or four channels to choose from, however now we have eight or nine and more depending on our budgets. Knowing the strengths of each media and when to turn which one on at which point in the campaign is critical to the success – there is no one formula fits all.

I hope I can reflect on my career with pride in that I have had some sort of positive impact…
Whilst I am enjoying every moment of my roles now, I do look forward to the time when I can hand over the baton to the next generation and have helped the industry move forward in some way for the next generation to continue the evolution.

As dry as it may sound, I am fascinated by the law…
My father was a police prosecutor and as a kid I used to sit in the courtroom and watch him cross-examine. I am a keen watcher on how people communicate, in meetings, at social events, everywhere, and I find law and courtrooms a distinctive way to communicate. Words mean different things, building arguments within a defined structure, it’s like a coded club of engagement.

Within work my passion is knowledge…
Knowledge has always given me security when I’ve doubted myself or been thrown in the deep end. If I’ve felt out of depth or not sure of the next step I have found solutions in identifying what I don’t know, learning and discovering knowledge then building a solution I feel confident in.

Outside of work I am fascinated by food…
Not your traditional foodie, I am an advocate for making things ‘from scratch’. From chocolate with cacao to coconut milk or bone broth, I love nothing more than getting in the kitchen and simply ‘making things’. It shuts out everything else and is a total de-stresser for me.

My family are what drives me and what makes me keep on keeping on…
When I’m feeling knocked about with workload or campaign deadlines a morning watching the kids run around on the Netball court or Football field just clears my head and re-invigorates. We’re a big advocate of the family sitting down to dinner and the dinner meals with the six of us sharing our news is my absolute favorite time.

My proudest personal achievement is becoming a mum…
It’s the thing I’m best at. Before having my two girls I struggled with balance and focused 100 per cent on work. Work was ‘my everything’, if a deal fell through I would take it personally, if I had a win I’d be soaring. The reality my children taught me, is that whilst careers and business can deliver a lot of satisfaction and sense of achievement, when I’m 80 sitting on my verandah waiting for my family to come for a family lunch, no one from my working life will be present. The only people who will laugh out loud with me as we ‘break bread’ are my family. Becoming a mother provided me a wonderful sense of perspective.

 The best thing about working in the industry is the people…
In both the Australasian Catalogue Association and TSA Limited I have two impressive Boards to ensure we stay the course and deliver our strategic plans. I couldn’t have a more committed, passionate and encouraging group of people who provide invaluable support and guidance with an underlying dedication to building an effective and powerful industry. Whilst each Board meeting is filled with lively discussion as we challenge each other to successful outcomes, we work together with a common focus. They are a terrific bunch to work with and learn from, I’m very privileged for the opportunity to work with these great minds.

The worst things about the industry are the politics and gossip…
Every industry has it, we’re not exclusive, but it’s my pet hate. Whilst at times I can be strong-willed, I am a straight shooter and prefer people to be upfront in business. If you don’t like it, say so. If it’s not working, speak up. If someone shares an insight, don’t repeat it. Some people spend too much time politicking in the background and for me that simply leads to two things only – distraction and mistrust. Neither of them good. I believe we should focus on the deliverables short and long term and worry less on who likes who, who is working with who and so on.

If I didn’t feel like throwing it all in at least once in a while I would probably start questioning my passion…
We all can be overwhelmed or simply exhausted in our careers, that’s why I believe in having some outlets, my family, my kitchen and hiding out on the family farm with nothing but dirt-bikes and red wine is a terrific way to spend the odd school holiday escaping from it all.

I always felt doubt, as a young woman building a career – a bit of the ‘Imposter Syndrome’…
I think we can all have these moments and fall into this trap easily. Of course, it’s not true and the best advice I’ve ever been given is, ‘you deserve to be here’. I found I just needed to trust that I had been put into a position because of talent and experience – someone believed that I could fulfil the requirements of the position, so I also needed to do the same. When forging a career, it’s important to stick to your own path, not take things personally and find someone you trust in your workplace who can give you feedback to keep you grounded.

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