“Your Career Is Not A Sprint”: 10 Of The Best With Essence’s Stephanie Shang

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We’re sadly nearing the end of our ‘10 of the Best’ interview series created in celebration of our inaugural Best of the Best awards, but we’ve still a couple more brilliant profiles to share!

[Looking for the live stream of B&T’s Best of the Best awards? You’ve found it – click here!]

Presented by Finecast, Best of the Best will bring something unique to this year’s awards season. While most awards focus on the work of an agency or company as a whole, Best of the Best will celebrate the immense individual talent on show in every area of advertising, marketing and media.

Our Best of the Best awards will also be celebrating the people who continue to do the most, with categories for mentors and social change-makers.

You can find a breakdown of all the different categories here, along with a downloadable file outlining the full submission criteria.

Come on, you know you want to enter! Head on over HERE to complete your submission/s by Friday 25 June 2021.

To inspire you even more to enter Best of the Best, we’ve been publishing some fab interviews with a number of senior folk from Finecast and the broader WPP AUNZ network.

We’ve asked them everything from their best piece of career advice, to the best mistake they’ve ever made, to their best guilty pleasure.

Today, we bring you Essence’s head of media for Australia, Stephanie Shang. Enjoy…

Best piece of career advice…

Have the courage to be vulnerable and be selective about the feedback you let into your life.

I was lucky enough to attend a Dare To Lead workshop a few years back’ and Brene Brown’s take on Teddy Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena” speech still sticks with me to this day.

“If you’re criticizing from a place where you’re not also putting yourself on the line, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

Best agency in Australia at the moment (that’s not yours) and why…

I keep a keen eye on agencies that adopt a similar philosophy to Essence; any media business that is future-proofing themselves for the inevitable digitisation of our industry, building genuinely useful technology and expanding their services into high demand areas like martech or e-comm consulting. The Pistol is a great local business that is doing this, applying this to an impressive base of clients.

Best industry leader and why…

Sunita Gloster. She uses her profile and platform for more than just herself. Her work with UN Women Australia is so important and incredibly inspiring, particularly given the recent public debate on women’s issues.

Best mentor in your life/career and why…

I’m very fortunate to have had many mentors throughout my career that I cannot simply give that title to one person – both in the media and creative world. They have always tailored their wisdom not only to the context of my situation, but to me as an individual, carefully considering my strengths, weaknesses, ambitions and fears.

They are also big advocates for gender equality and diversity and inclusion well before it was a normalised ambition in the workplace and, thanks to them, I’ve learned to celebrate what makes me different rather than trying desperately to fit a mould that I had constructed in my own head.

Best brand you’ve never worked on and why

Macca’s. They really embrace Australia as a test market and have introduced the advertising community to some creatively innovative, digitally-led and, most importantly, effective work. Big ideas like Macca’s Monopoly are brilliant.

Best song for inspiration and why…

“Work Bitch” by Britney Spears. The lyrics are fairly self-explanatory.

Best mistake you’ve ever made…

Come out the other end of what I call career puberty blues. It was a period in my life when I let stress and work dictate my wellbeing and pushed everything else aside. I would feel as if something catastrophic would happen without me there every day which, in hindsight, is ridiculous.

Over time, I began to pay attention to how the stress physically manifested in my body and put in a lot of hard work to maintain a healthy mind and body. Your career is not a sprint – it’s a marathon. Make sure you are kind to yourself and build up enough self-awareness to never lose sight of what matters in life.

Best rumour you’ve heard about yourself…

I sadly am not privy to any, but if anyone ever wants them debunked, you know where to find me!

Best ad of the past decade and why…

Uber Ea … actually, my favourite ad is a series of ads made by the creators of Rick and Morty.

Special shout out to the RTA’s ‘Speeding. No one thinks big of you.’ campaign which celebrates its 14th birthday this year. I still use the pinky sign whenever I see someone driving dangerously.

Best guilty pleasure…

K-drama. I’ll start an episode and before I know it, it’s 5am, the sun is rising and I have completed a 10-hour viewing marathon.

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