MediaCom Brisbane MD: What Musical Theatre Taught Me About Building My Career

MediaCom Brisbane MD: What Musical Theatre Taught Me About Building My Career

Put down that professional development book you’ve been glazing over and get a ticket to the theatre.

Because according to MediaCom Brisbane MD Katherine Williams, the marketing and advertising industry can learn a lot from musicals.

Speaking at B&T’s Melbourne Bootcamp, presented by MediaCom, Williams reflected on her near 20-year career.

And while her tenure in the industry has clearly been an enormous success, it turns out it could have been completely different.

“Believe it or not, my very first serious career ambition was to be in the theatre,” she told the audience.

“But sadly, my complete lack of ability to sing consistently in tune – or at all – was always going to cut my career ambitions of being on the stage a little short.”

But the hours spent pirouetting did not go to waste. Williams explained that the lessons she learned in her budding musical theatre “aided my progression and ultimately made me the leader that I am today”.

At the top of her list was the importance of knowing your own worth and recognising your role in the wider organisation.

“The first lesson I learned is that every time you walk into your office, just as a performer walks on to a stage, you are there for a reason and your role – no matter how small or large the part – matters to the overall success of the performance,” Williams said.

Next, was plain old-fashioned hard work.

“Rehearse your lines, practice your moves. For the media industry that means attending bootcamps like today, reading books, getting a mentor or a coach,” she said.

“To get ahead, you must hone your craft and that’s what this industry is, it’s a craft, so you’ve got to put in the work over and above the standard hours to get ahead.”

As well as advising to “be nice to the crew” – whether that building security, the IT team or the cleaner – Williams also emphasised the importance of resilience.

Like a performer has to go through the gruelling, and sometimes demoralising, process of auditioning, marketing and advertising professionals have to learn how to deal with disappointment, said Williams.

“Your success will be largely attributed to your ability to constructively analyse feedback and apply it calmly, rationally and logically,” she said.

“Just like a performer that falls down on a stage picks themselves back up and keeps going, so to must you.”

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