Lauren Quaintance, BA
After a career reporting on major news and events around the world, Lauren Quaintance shares her insights after making the move from media to marketing.
Tell us a little about yourself...
I was lucky enough to have an amazing career in journalism that took me from working for North & South magazine to London's Sunday Times and the Sydney Morning Herald (and from Victoria University of Wellington to the University of Oxford and Columbia University in New York). As a journalist I covered the September 11 attacks, profiled prime ministers, and investigated people smugglers. It was a fantastic way to see the world in my twenties.
About eight years ago, after serving in senior executive roles in Fairfax Media in Australia—and with the media business model under threat from the shift to digital—my business partner and I saw an opportunity to launch a digital content marketing agency, Storyation, creating content for brands. I'm happy to say it was very successful.
Storyation works with brands in Australia and New Zealand such as Tourism Australia and Microsoft, and about two years ago we sold the business to NewsCorp Australia. I remain Managing Director. This latest chapter as an entrepreneur has been unexpected but equally fulfilling.
Where are you living and what are you doing?
I live in Sydney and as well as being the managing director of Storyation I am a non-executive director serving in board roles for companies in Australia and New Zealand.
What did you study at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington and why did you choose your degree?
A BA in International Relations and English. Wellington is my hometown, but more importantly, the university had an excellent political science department.
What's your strongest memory of studying?
Probably a sense of very much being in Wellington—tutorials in weatherboard houses on Kelburn Parade, walking home up vertiginous streets, and working late shifts at the Dominion on ancient ATEX computers. (Through the University, I won The Dominion/Dominion Sunday Times scholarship which gave me paid work experience at the Dom).
Any memorable lecturers?
Dr Ray Goldstein in the School of International Affairs. He was a whip-smart American, was incredibly encouraging and gave me an A+ (twice!)
What do you wish you had known before applying for your first job?
That as much a I loved it, my first career wouldn't be my last.
What has been the biggest influence on your career?
My parents. My father always said, "You can be a street cleaner if you want, you just need to be the best street cleaner in the street." I inherited a drive to always try to do better.
Have you always wanted to pursue the kind of career you have embarked on? If so, when and how did you realise?
I always wanted to be a journalist—I joined the Evening Post when I was 11 to report for a page that was called Children's Express and interviewed the then Prime Minister about children's rights when I was 12.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
The arrival of the internet undermined the business model that supported quality journalism, and while I enjoyed the strategic challenge of helping media companies to experiment with new business models I also realised that I had skills that could be used in other ways.
What are your interests outside your work?
My children, Hunter and Bella. Reading, pilates, travel. I'm obsessed with India as a place and I can't wait to get back there when the world returns to something closer to normal.
What advice would you give students/graduates wanting to pursue a similar profession?
Be nimble. The path is not linear no matter what career you choose.
What do you want to do next with your career?
I'm enjoying the challenge of using my digital marketing skills at board level to help drive growth for businesses. I'd like to use those skills to help tourism or media companies in New Zealand, in particular.
What would someone be surprised to know about you?
My primary school classmates who had me pegged as a bookworm would be surprised to know I can read a profit and loss statement (and I even won an award for Media Entrepreneur of the Year).