In today’s Women in Media profile, we talk to Amy De La Force, head of content at Switched On Media, about Xena and why she hates the term ‘razzle dazzle’.
Describe your average day?
One of the things I love about my role is that every day is different. For example, I wrote on Monday, ran a half-day Content Marketing workshop on Tuesday, met with clients on Wednesday, caught up with my team on Thursday, and handed off projects on Friday.
The variety, both day-to-day and client-wise, keeps it fresh – and that’s very important to me, creatively.
What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
The speed of change within the industry. Digital is even more fast-paced than it used to be, so staying agile and seeing around corners are key to success.
And all while achieving and exceeding client expectations, making sure my team feels happy and safe, fostering resilience under pressure, and innovating to continue driving business growth.
What drives you?
Creativity and innovation. Establishing Content at Switched on Media as THE centre for storytelling excellence. My amazing team. I’m also quite competitive, so if I see an opportunity I want, I’ll be gunning for it.
What’s the hardest brief you’ve ever received or hardest job to execute?
Product launches at Apple – not because of the brief or the execution, but because there are so many moving parts and each part is absolutely critical. I’ve never learnt so fast in my life.
What has been your favourite job in media and why?
This one, for lots of reasons. I’ve been lucky enough to help shape the future of Content at Switched on Media, and really own how we move forward in the marketplace, both in ANZ and internationally.
That’s an incredibly exciting opportunity, and one I look forward to continuing to build upon. We’ve got some exciting projects in the pipeline – so watch this space!
What would be your ultimate role?
Big ideas and even bigger strategy. I’m a creative at heart, but I also have insanely high standards and expectations of myself.
So I’m constantly evaluating how and what I’m doing, whether it’s ‘big’ enough, what my audience will think, whether it’s adding enough value, if I’m surprising and delighting people with something they’ve not seen before… Any role that allows me the freedom to do those things holds the key to my heart.
What’s your proudest professional moment?
Being in a room with Tim Cook was pretty hard to beat.
What’s your quirkiest attribute?
I’m a massive nerd and I always have been. But I also have the randomest interests.
I do kung fu, I paint skateboard art, I do medieval sword fighting, I write fantasy fiction (‘Lord of the Rings’-style, not the other stuff). I’m just a quirk, full stop.
One thing no one knows about you?
I’m also an introvert, so I need big chunks of time alone to recharge. For some reason, this always surprises people.
What are advertising / marketing’s biggest challenges or threats?
Staying relevant. Content marketing, particularly since HubSpot, has turned a corner – it’s all about helping audiences and adding value, which I love.
Advertising may just be on that cusp too now, because brands can no longer afford to think they’re in an ivory tower, secreted away from their own customers like in the pre-internet days. Brands that treat people as equals – like friends – will always win out when it comes to building trust and advocacy.
What do you think are the most exciting things in the marketing and creative world at the moment?
I attended Facebook IQ Live’s Sydney event recently, and it was great to see the extent to which advertisers and marketers are being encouraged to think creative- and mobile-first.
These concepts aren’t new, but brands are actually starting to execute them now. That’s a big step forward, especially in Australia.
If you were CEO what would you do differently?
Business hammocks. There, I finally said it.
Hardest lesson you’ve had to learn (in or out of workforce)?
Not being a workaholic. I’m passionate about writing and content, so I get invested, which can make it tough to draw the line sometimes.
But managing your energy and refilling the well after drawing from your creative pool is quintessential to what I do – so I need to take care of myself and prioritise having a work life balance, as well as setting this example for my team.
Tea or coffee?
Both. I alternate between matcha and coffee, depending on what I’m working on and what mood I need to evoke. I’m also kind of addicted to Pukka herbal tea.
Cats or dogs?
Dogs. I used to be cats because I love Garfield (and sarcasm), but it’s definitely dogs. There’s no BS with dogs, and I respect that.
Comic book superhero TV shows.
What’s your favourite TV programme?
‘Xena’ (see above re: quirks) and ‘Game of Thrones’.
What turns you on, emotionally, creatively, spirituality?
Emotionally, my husband. Creatively, other people’s work – I actually love getting that, “Dammit, that campaign’s so good, I wish it’d been mine” feeling, because it pushes me to be better. Spiritually, nature.
What turns you off?
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Is this the ‘if money was no object’ question? If so, I’d be editing my fantasy novel.
What profession would you not like to do?
Any non-creative profession. I studied three years of psychology before journalism, and I’ve a good head for maths, but I could never live in spreadsheet land again.
Have you ever felt like giving up?
Sure, who hasn’t? Fortunately for me, I’m a fighter and tenacious as hell. I always get back up.
What are the pearls of wisdom you know now, that you wish you knew when they were younger?
During my time with Apple, I often watched Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address, and one quote has always stayed with me: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
I’ve crammed a lot into the last decade, and the big decisions have always come with proportionate risk. But I’ve learnt that the adversity I’ve experienced in my life – which has always come from simply being myself – has made me stronger, even if it may not have felt like it at the time.
I trust myself now, and that whatever’s happening, in a few dots time, I’ll get it and realise that right now, I’m exactly where I need to be.
What is your favourite word?
It’s a toss-up between ‘meraki’ and ‘mellifluous’.
What is your least favourite word?
Someone once told my team our copy needed more ‘razzle dazzle’. So there’s that.
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