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Q&A: Amanda Tober, Media Monitors

Q&A: Amanda Tober, Media Monitors

Effective management of human capital is critical to business success, especially in information driven industry, like media. In this interview CXO talks with Amanda Tober, the executive director of human resources for Media Monitors, to get an insider perspective on management.

What’s the 30 second pitch on Media Monitors?
We provide media intelligence from publicly available information to our Corporate and Government clients across Asia Pacific, which is relevant, timely and accessible, to assist with good business decisions.

With all the content that is now available through both traditional and new media sources we get rid of the clutter, and provide only the content that’s relevant to our clients.

Where do you see your company heading over the next five years? Are sites like Facebook and Twitter changing the landscape?
Complementing our traditional media sources – press, radio and TV – our focus will continue to grow around the online news and social media space. This will be supported by the development of sophisticated tools providing our clients with the ability to interrogate information gathered form the various content sources.

Additionally, we have recently made our first foray into the Asian market place, which will continue to be a key growth area for our business over the next five years.

What’s the biggest challenge for the company at the moment?
Our biggest challenge is around driving revenue growth in the current economic environment, whilst continuing our focus on investing in the growth in Asia.

Our focus here is to continuously demonstrate innovative service offerings that differentiate our services against online content providers.

There’s been a lot of discussion about publishers charging for content. What’s your take on the potential impact of that?
This is an interesting question. We are already seeing many successful paid content models around the world, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. We are also seeing many of the Australian publishers getting ready to put the toll booths up, so to speak, by segmenting their content. The SMH has most recently done this with its new business section, called ‘Business Day’. This may be prime content to spin off into the online world through a paid content model in the future.

Research shows that people are willing to pay for online analysis data, financial information, editorial content, sports, pornography, dating and gambling, however, they won’t pay for general news. So, by segmenting content that people may pay for in the future, publishers will not only maintain their traditional media source, but additionally complement this in the online space.

How have your client’s information requirements shifted in the last 5 years?
Our clients are looking for more sophisticated portals to manage the ever increasing amount of content sources, and most importantly, they are looking for the ‘so what’ from media content, so media intelligence as such.

They want content from all media sources, provided to them in a timely manner, that is only relevant to what they want to know.

What are the key ingredients to keeping a team engaged and positive in a tough business climate?
Communication – openness and transparency around how the economy has impacted the business, and the steps the company has taken to protect the business and our employees. Additionally, our employees want to be engaged in how they can help combat this, getting them to be involved in the strategies the business deploys. Getting this right is often far more difficult then it sounds, but it’s absolutely vital in these times.

Tell us a bit about how you got to where you are today?
I’ve been working in the area of HR for over 15 years now, both in privately owned Australian businesses, and publicly owned multi-nationals. During this time I’ve been lucky enough to have had a few roles that have provided me with extensive experience in the Asia Pacific region. This experience has been enormously helpful to support the growth of Media Monitors into Asia.

I think the key to success in HR is having a good understanding of the machinations of businesses, not just a solid understanding of HR practices. Probably one of the best decisions I made to support my career in HR was to do my MBA at AGSM some years ago. I found that it gave me a better understanding of all components of business, allowing me to take a more holistic approach on strategic planning and linking HR practices to business performance.

Who’s your hero?
I’m not sure that I’m too keen on the whole ‘hero’ concept as such. Being a bit of a pragmatist myself, I prefer to admire individuals for the special traits that each and every one of us have. Having said that, I admire athletes from their discipline and perseverance, and I admire humanitarians for their unselfish commitment to others.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve have two really greats pieces of advice that have always stuck to me during my working experience. Firstly, ‘chose your battles’, in the sense that make sure you know what the most important things are to focus on, and let go of those things that in the scheme of things aren’t really that important. Secondly, know your employees ‘currency’, so what makes them tick and how they like to be recognised and rewarded.

What are the skills that you promote and most respect at work?
To me it’s all about attitude – a positive attitude can make up for most skill gaps, if not, all.

What has been your greatest challenge to date as far as your career is concerned?
Managing the rapid growth of our business into Asia has been a significant challenge, but certainly one of the most rewarding journeys I’ve had. We took the business from having 450 employees in 2 countries, to now over 900 employees across 6 countries in a little over 2 years. Building a global infrastructure, and driving our HR strategies and practices in such a short time period has certainly been an amazing learning experience.

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