Ten Years On From The First 30 Under 30: Karen Song

Ten Years On From The First 30 Under 30: Karen Song
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Meet Karen Liu Song – previously Art Director ONE and now Head of Network Design at Network 10.

Karen picked up a 30 Under 30 Award at the ripe old age of 27. At the time, she was recognised for her role as the Art Director for ONE HD, which saw her build a team to launch Australia’s first free-to-air digital channel in just six weeks. And, just last year, she was a key member of the team that led Network 10 through its first major rebrand in 27 years.

In this article, Karen talks about the changes in her career over the last decade, including what it’s like to be a working mum in the industry.

We’re still on the hunt for our 2019 30 Under 30 with the countdown on and just a few days to go until entries close.

For now, read on to hear what Karen Song had to say!

Karen Liu Song

Then: Art Director ONE, Network 10

Now: Head of Network Design, Network 10

What did it mean to you at the ripe age of 27 that you were chosen as one of B&T’s 30 Under 30?

I wasn’t involved in my submission so it was a humbling surprise to be nominated. I think my mum bought every copy and carried one around in her handbag for months!

At that time, I was recognised for my role as the Art Director for ONE,  which saw me build a team to launch Australia’s first free-to-air digital channel in just six weeks. It was a career leap and a role I wasn’t sure I was ready for or capable of so being recognised was a lesson to believe in myself and take risks. It was also a good reminder that what I had achieved was pretty cool.

How do you think being nominated affected your career, if at all?

I am privileged to be working within a team and organisation that continues to recognise my potential and achievements, and gives me rewarding career opportunities. Recognition is such a simple but powerful way to engage and motivate. Most recently, I was really fortunate to be part of Network 10’s big rebrand!

What’s been the biggest change to your life since then?

Becoming a working mum. The challenge of returning to work after a long break and wondering if you still had it in you to achieve what you once were able to. There’s always a juggle between guilt, priority and time. I had to work smarter and implement processes to enable me to do that. I’m lucky to work in an organisation that values flexibility. There’s nothing like motherhood to teach you resilience, patience & compromise.

What words of wisdom would you have shared with your 27 year old self back then knowing what you do now?

Trusting in yourself but also in those around you who are good at what they do – you can always learn something and you don’t always need to have all the answers. I know now the power of sitting back and listening. Humility, diplomacy & compromise go a long way.

What are you most proud of? 

Late last year, I was a key member of the team that led Network 10 through its first major rebrand in 27 years. It was a huge undertaking – we had to rebrand the entire network in four months! We developed the new identity and rolled it out across 10’s culture, three channels, three digital platforms and major in-house productions.

Working on a project like this is why I love what I do and I felt privileged to be a part of such a historic moment in time.

What do you see as the biggest challenges that face young people in advertising, marketing and media these days?

The media industry is in an era of change and the challenge is finding the next big idea that engages and creates original and authentic viewer experiences and helps build brand loyalty.

Conversely, what’s the biggest opportunity for those under 30 now?

When I started my career as a motion designer, job opportunities were pretty niche. I fell into TV because I wanted to make news corner frames. There are more opportunities now than ever before for content makers and story-tellers across more platforms. That’s pretty exciting.

What can the industry do better to attract and retain young talent?

Believe in them, invest in them and help them build a meaningful career. When you trust them and show them mutual respect, they thrive.

We try to maintain strong relationships with universities to develop, train and mentor graduate talent we can bring into our network. I’ve been lucky enough to have some great leaders and mentors in my career and I’m a big believer in it.

Did you miss the on-time deadline to get your entry in for B&T‘s 30 Under 30 Awards? Never fear! Late entries close this Friday (1st March)! For all the details and to submit your entry, click here. Tickets are also available for B&T Bootcamp, a day of speed mentoring and masterclasses aimed at up and comers in the industry.

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