Women In Media: It’s Realestate.Com.Au’s Georgina Leslie

Staff portraits, REA, Melbourne Australia. 01/02/2016. Picture Andrew Henshaw
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With just two more days until our fantastic Women in Media event, and just a few tickets still available, we chat to the lovely consumer and brand marketing manager for realestate.com.au, Georgina Leslie about Nashville, rejection and walking the floor.

Describe your average day?

An average day will often start with a run along the beach or around the lake with my dog. I couldn’t think of a better way to clear my head and start the day feeling great.

We have a hot-desking environment at REA Group, so the first decision of the day is to choose a desk. On any given day I might be sitting next to someone from our Behavioural Analytics and Communications team, a graphic designer or our Executive Manager. I really like it as you get to sit next to a variety of people.

An average day at realestate.com.au is fast paced. Throughout the day I meet with internal stakeholders from across the business, and externally with agencies and media suppliers. I carry my laptop, notebook and mobile with me from meeting to meeting room and it is often not until the afternoon that I get a chance to start responding to emails. As a business that practices an agile way of working, many of our meetings are also organised as ‘stand ups’.

We are spoilt for good coffee in Richmond, so there is always time to grab or coffee (or two) from one of the great cafes within 100m of the front of the office.

What’s the most challenging thing about your job?

The most challenging thing about being a marketer is the balancing act between the development and execution of your marketing strategy for long-term growth, with the necessities of achieving short-term objectives.

Ultimately the short and long term goals should be aligned, but in reality there is often, and importantly, internal pressure to achieve short-term results. It’s crucial to continually consider your ambition for your brand in the long term and make decisions today that put you in the best position to achieve this.

What’s the hardest brief you’ve ever received or hardest job to execute?

My first professional role was as an International business development manager with Australian production and distribution company World Wide Entertainment. There were some incredible perks with this role, including great travel, but it was also at times the most difficult job I have had.

I managed the distribution of our content into North America and a significant part of my role was to prospect for new business. With the time difference, this meant that most days started at 5am on the phone to clients in the US, and included ‘cold calling’.

I had been attracted to the role because of the industry and business rather than the fact that it was in sales, but on reflection I think starting my career in a sales role was the best thing I could have done.

Being in a client-facing role taught me some fundamentals of good business – the importance of good communication whether it’s on the phone, via email or in person; taking accountability for your effort and output; and if something doesn’t go as you would have hoped or a deal falls over, to not to take it personally.

What has been your favourite job in media and why?

Aside from my current role as consumer & brand marketing manager at REA Group which I’ve been in for five months, my favourite role was as Asia Pacific marketing manager for Lonely Planet. As a consumer of many Lonely Planet guidebooks during my travels, I was so thrilled when I started working there to find that the people behind the brand were exactly as you would expect: they believe travel improves lives, and they are driven to help people have amazing experiences wherever they are in the world.

Professionally it was also a really interesting experience to work in the publishing industry in a period of such change. I was faced with managing a brand with very high awareness, but in an increasingly competitive market.

A brand that has a strong reputation around the globe, but with less than 500 staff is relatively small. It was a great opportunity to be involved across the spectrum of marketing within the business and to develop and execute campaigns at a global level.

What would be your ultimate role?

CMO role in an organisation that has a strong consumer focus, a global audience, and not afraid to challenge the status quo.

What’s your quirkiest attribute?

Can I claim my brother as an attribute? People are often interested to hear that he writes for Fireman Sam and Bob the Builder. I am seen as famous by association by many of my friend’s young kids at the moment!

One thing no one knows about you?

I spent a summer working for a landscaper in Canada which included working on gardens at both Tom Hanks and Martin Short’s lake houses.

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

The rate of change in terms of how people consume their media can be a distraction for marketers and executives alike. I’m a big believer in keeping it simple, focus first on the core principles of marketing; segment the market, identify your target audience and decide what you want them to think about your brand in order to achieve your growth objectives.

Then you can have a bit of fun with how you get your message across and the most suitable channels to use to reach the audience.

What do you think are the most exciting things in the marketing and creative world at the moment?

For me there are a number of exciting things at the moment that enable brands to be even more effective at finding and reaching their target audience wherever they are in the world.

It is exciting that many of the barriers to entry that restricted smaller or new brands into the market have started to come down. More than ever there is opportunity for new brands to enter an industry and have an immediate impact.

Personally, I think the most exciting trend is the way many corporates are truly seeing the value in building brand equity. We now have more tools and data to measure the impact of a given campaign, so marketers are more likely to be given a ‘seat at the table’ and entrusted to provide direction for future growth of a brand.

If you were CEO what would you do differently?

It’s really important that a CEO develops their own leadership and management style, but remains flexible enough to adjust this to the specific business they are in.

One piece of advice I have heard from a number of successful leaders that has stayed with me is the importance of ‘walking the floor’. Understanding the current experience consumers are having with your product or brand – whether this means literally ‘walking the shop floor’ and/or listening to feedback directly from consumers. And this philosophy should also be the same for understanding the current experiences of your employees.

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

The hardest lesson I have had to learn is how to manage rejection. My husband and I lived in the US in 2010 and I must have applied for more than 40 jobs and only got one interview.

This was definitely a reflection of the economy at the time and the fact that I wasn’t a citizen, but it really taught me the value of networks, making the most of any opportunity you are given, and persistence.

Tea or coffee?

Skinny latte, no sugar.

What is your favourite word?

Saskatchewan

Cats or dogs?

Definitely dogs, I grew up on a small farm with Border Collies and I now have a very urbanised five-year-old ‘blue’ Border Collie called Sturgeon.

Guilty pleasure?

I cannot resist a good (read: over-the-top) TV drama set in the American South. Back in the day I couldn’t get enough of One Tree Hill and this has since led to a lot of hours watching True Blood, Friday Night Lights and most recently Nashville.

What’s your favourite TV programme?

When it comes to comedy TV programs, it’s hard to top Parks and Recreation, but Utopia definitely comes close.

What turns you on, emotionally, creatively, spirituality?

I am certainly inspired by anyone who is passionate about what they do, even if it is not something I am personally interested in.

Spirituality is a tough one, I think growing up close to the surf-coast in Victoria means that wherever there is an ocean in a rugged setting it will always bring feelings of calm and contentment over me.

What turns you off?

When people don’t take accountability, or don’t step up when the opportunity is there for them.

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

If I had followed the path that my undergraduate studies were leading me on I could have become a photographer or copywriter.

Sometimes I daydream about choosing a profession that sees me working outside all day like landscape gardening. Unfortunately I have enough trouble keeping my herb garden alive so I’m not sure this is a very realistic aspiration!

What are the pearls of wisdom you know now, that you wish you knew when they were younger?

Don’t wait to be asked to do something because you don’t think it is within your ‘role’ in a business. If you think something can be improved, take the initiative to take it on, and/or inspire a team around you to help you do it.

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