Lawyer-turned-media sales professional Luke Manderson launched his advertising career at subscription TV-sales house MCN in 2005.
In 2010, Manderson was selected as one of B&T’s 30 Under 30 in his role as head of client services for the Lifestyle Channels, XYZnetworks (now Foxtel). Today he is based in New York City and is the chief product and technology officer for Barron’s Group, previously known as Dow Jones Media Group.
As part of our celebratory content series marketing 10 years since B&T‘s first ever 30 Under 30, we tracked him down to discuss the changing media landscape and his achievements since then.
If you missed the others profiled in this series, you can check them out here.
Then: head of client services, Lifestyle Channels, XYZnetworks
Now: chief product and technology officer, Barron’s Group
While Luke’s career took a major sidestep when he moved from being a solicitor and into media, his passion for creativity – he worked as a freelance graphic designer throughout his business/law degree – and his ability to think methodically have seen him successfully develop and execute myriad campaigns.
Despite the media sector being rocked by the global financial crisis in 2009, the LifeStyle group recorded year-on-year growth and under Luke’s leadership, the LifeStyle Channel was awarded an ASTRA award for two consecutive years.
Former News Corp chief digital officer Nicole Sheffield, who was general manager of LifeStyle Channels at the time, applauded Manderson’s achievements:
“There is no question Luke has changed the landscape of client services and media integration in subscription TV in Australia. Under his leadership, the LifeStyle Channel group has experienced unprecedented revenue growth.”
What did it mean to you at the ripe age of 29 that you were chosen as one of B&T’s 30 Under 30?
At 29, I was one of the more-ripe 30 Under 30’s! I was a late starter to the media industry at 25, so I was thrilled to be recognized and it reinforced my decision to pivot away from working in commercial litigation.
How do you think being nominated affected your career, if at all?
Being nominated certainly helped build my confidence. Media is not for the faint of heart; working with industry experts, big personalities, talent and high-pressure targets is tough.
Being reinforced by your team, your leaders and your industry is a very empowering feeling and enables you to act and speak with confidence and make high quality decisions that make a real impact.
What’s been the biggest change to your life since then?
My partner and I moved to New York in 2015, so that’s definitely the biggest change from a “life” perspective.
Career-wise, after Foxtel I moved to News Corp Australia, first working with the NewsLifeMedia team, then leading Product & Sales for news.com.au. That was good fun and a steep learning curve, but we were able to achieve some big wins in terms of revenue and market position, getting the brand to #1. It’s been great to see it continue to thrive.
What words of wisdom would you have shared with your 29 year old self back then knowing what you do now?
Keep refuelling your creativity. Things move so quickly and there are so many incredible ideas and perspectives out there, as leaders we have a duty to be open minded to new ways of doing things or else the world will pivot and you could be left behind.
What are you most proud of?
There are professional achievements I’m proud of, but I’m most proud of the friendships I’ve had with colleagues along the way. It’s so rewarding seeing people succeed and be happy, whether that’s through their career, building a family, pivoting industries, relocating or any combination of the above.
I’ve seen former colleagues open restaurants, curate art exhibitions, become CEOs, launch startups…. it’s nice to have had those times together. It’s always about the people.
What do you see as the biggest challenges that face young people in advertising, marketing and media these days?
There is so much noise and so many voices, it can seem overwhelming. The next generation needs strong, inspiring leadership to help them navigate their path, remain open minded and maintain a willingness to learn. There’s a lot of hype out there.
Conversely, what’s the biggest opportunity for those under 30 now?
Entire new areas of specialisation are emerging every day and the ability to get in at the early stages is unique – those under 30 have shown an incredible ability to lean-in to change.
What can the industry do better to attract and retain young talent?
I think there’s still something lacking in the narrative of our industry. For the next generation the shiny veneer of media can be a hollow pitch – we need to start grounding what we do in tangible, human terms to ensure we communicate a sense of purpose – the role of media, the telling of stories, the importance of entertaining and engaging viewers / users / readers / listeners.
On the brand / client side, making the connection between a brand name or business and the people and purpose that sit behind it. The next wave of employees will care less about the gloss of parties and perks and more about the impact they can make as individuals.