Ex-Hearts & Science digital chief turned e-commerce entrepreneur: Ten things I learned from my time in media
I’ve worked in media and marketing for more than 15 years, most recently as Chief Digital Officer at Hearts & Science. I recently took a big plunge and launched my own business – a start-up in the food industry. As I embark on the next chapter in my career, it’s also been a chance for reflection. It is clear to me what a tremendous springboard the media industry has been, so I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned along the way.
What you need to know:
- Isabelle Dunn has swapped Hearts & Science to launch a direct-to-consumer food business.
- It's a big leap, but Dunn thinks skills honed working in media stand entrepreneurs in good stead, with multiple transferable skills, and lists what she now hopes will help make her new venture a success.
- She also hopes you want freshly prepared food with zero waste.
Media was not initially the plan. Rather something I fell into when looking for my first job in London, straight out of university. I studied business and marketing, and had planned to work in marketing, more specifically as a product manager. However, media was young, vibrant, dynamic, varied and most importantly a super fun industry to be part of – especially in the early years. It also offered good career progression, international transfers and great career development opportunities. Before I knew it, a couple of years turned into 15.
However, becoming a mum was a catalyst for change. It made me re-assess my priorities, project further into the future, and rethink my life plans. It made me want to better myself, lead by example and act on a passion point that I’d been thinking about for a while. I had spotted a gap in the market and decided to start my own business in the food industry. PreppedFRESH is a direct-to-consumer start-up with a vision to give all home chefs across Australia better access to solutions to streamline meal prep, while also reducing food waste.
What I didn’t expect is for my media background to be so valuable with many transferable skills that will hopefully set me up for success. So what are the things I’ve learned and some of the most critical skills that a career in the media industry can help foster?
- Vision – In a highly competitive and commoditised industry, a clear vision is critical to stand out. It helps agencies win new business pitches and media owners cut through the plethora of media options, and is crucial for any new business to cut through.
- Culture and values – as a people-first industry, retaining and growing talent is everything for media agencies. IP, knowledge and creativity is transferred via our human capital and needs to be nurtured for the best results.
- Presentation skills – Storytelling is at the heart of any strategic recommendation, and even more so in the WFH era, the narrative needs to shine through, whatever the format or style of presentation.
- People & management skills – with access to high quality performance management and people development training. Despite the high workloads, agencies really do invest in their people and the people management experience is invaluable.
- Commercial acumen – media and advertising requires business smarts to drive the optimum outcomes from two distinct angles, spotting opportunities for clients and building a sustainable business model for agencies.
- Connections – it’s a very tight industry in which mutual support and relationships really matter. I’ve made great friends and incredibly valuable connections.
- Customer-first thinking – understanding the customer need/want and levers of receptivity as a starting point. Consumer research, shopper insights, media consumption data is always available whether client, industry or publisher led.
- Stakeholder management – As a trusted advisor, managing and negotiating large marketing budgets is invaluable experience, building trust, sharing the required information with key parties and understanding different perspectives are essential.
- Negotiation – the art of getting the best deal transfers to all aspects of life including investment discussions, through to purchases of property and whitegoods!
- Personal Brand - from sharing thought leadership to being known for honesty or integrity, it will go with you and support you for your entire career.
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in media - the growth, support, upskilling and training access I had over the years – and I’m excited to embrace “what’s next” – with greater clarity, confidence and a deeper appreciation for what the media industry has to offer as a career path and career builder.
It’s been a blast. It’s been the making of me… and if anyone wants to follow my journey further, you can visit www.preppedfresh.com.au, sign up to our newsletter or follow our socials. I would love to hear from you and keep in touch!