Ready to lead: 30 Under 30 winners reveal their tips & tricks for taking charge

Former Editor & Content Director

Kerry Gregory, Lauren Turner, Leilani Vakaahi & Madison Agius are preparing to be the audio industry’s next generation of leaders.

Here, they reveal how they take charge of their careers, take charge of their teams and – hopefully one day – take charge of the industry.

Kerry Gregory, promotions manager – Will & Woody, KIIS Network, ARN (29)

What makes Kerry Gregory a future leader in the audio industry?

“Strong leadership to me is someone who can inspire, motivate and innovate. In the audio industry we work with a spectrum of personalities and maintaining genuine innovation and creativity at the pace we do has its challenges. That makes its critical that to lead successfully we are always prioritising self-awareness, and learning with every win – and loss – we face. I am committed to developing my self-awareness and emotional intelligence. I will be the leader driving a culture of trust and respect, and motivate my teams to push that bit harder, dream a bit bigger and genuinely give a shit.

“I’m not perfect, (despite what my Mum says) but I’ve developed resources to understand my emotions, control them, and manage how these manifest around others. I know what I’m good at, and I also know what I need to work on, therefore I can mentally prepare myself for all types of situations in the workplace. Plus, I’ve become extremely adaptable, because you never know what COVID has around the corner.

“I’ve developed strategies to always ensure I bring my best self to meetings, I analyse how I feel in different situations and I’m conscious of how my reaction will affect others. If you’re feeling frustrated, sometimes it’s good to just let it all out on a piece of paper, and come back with a fresh perspective.

“Sometimes you just have to focus on the big picture, rather than dwelling on the small things. At times I’ll even talk to myself; ‘Kerry, you’re doing great, and you’ve dreamt of working in the Australian radio industry for years. Now look where you are – working for a national Drive show. Keep smashing it.’

“Leaders have to hold themselves accountable. My commitment is that whenever I make a mistake, I admit it right away, face any consequence and learn from it. Just like my favourite KIIS artist Rihanna has inked on her shoulders, ‘Never a failure, always a lesson.’

“My leadership style includes adapting my communication skills to suit different people or situations. I aim to understand exactly what the other person’s goal is and tailor my communication style to demonstrate how I’ll work with them to achieve that. When working with the show, I always make sure to be engaged and excited about their ideas, not just a co-worker, but a genuine fan.

“And lastly, something that comes very easy to me and I love doing – motivating others. Genuinely making an effort with everyone by remembering birthdays, giving praise, creating a fun environment, and being empathetic, especially during these tense times.

“I want to make a difference in this industry and be a great leader. I genuinely care about my work and relationships, so am developing my emotional intelligence so that when a new challenge comes my way, or I take on my next role, I can be ready for anything. Bring it on.”

Lauren Turner, campaign specialist, NOVA Entertainment (26)

What makes Lauren Turner a future leader in the audio industry?

“When I look to the leaders that I admire, they all have one thing in common – compassion. Everyone has their own style, and workplaces thrive on different approaches, but a common sense of empathy and shared purpose is what keeps a team together, and leaders must embody this.

“I remember my mother saying that to lead is to let go – you must allow people room to carve out their own space, even if it’s for making mistakes. Nothing changes in a vacuum, and if you don’t allow people room to breathe, then they won’t either. A true leader lifts others up and knows that mistakes are supported, not punished. When I’m training someone new, or supporting a team, I extend the trust first to them – they always deliver back on that trust because they feel respected to do their job.

“My personal style is very much about keeping people positive rather than keeping people in line. Let people vent, let people express concern, and then let them get on with it. They’ll get the job done, there’s a reason they were hired; I’m there to keep their eyes on the prize and so they don’t lose hope.

“This might mean I embarrass myself wearing a funny costume on Teams or making a silly video for my team to laugh at – if it keeps them smiling and relieves the stress of a heavy few days at work, then that’s me supporting them as a leader in the way that’s most true to me.”

Leilani Vakaahi, agency account director, ARN (28)

What makes Leilani Vakaahi a future leader in the audio industry?

“I already consider myself a leader who is continually evolving.

I look for ‘butterfly effect’ opportunities. Opportunities to share my passion, knowledge, experience and support every day.

“By mentoring the next generation of audio professionals.

“By sharing my learnings and experience across different departments, stations, markets and countries with my team.

“By educating agencies and clients on how to grow their business through the power of audio.

“The only certainty in the audio industry is change, and if I can be part of that change – and help others to evolve with it – I will feel like I’ve made a real impact as a leader.”

Madison Agius, media sales coordinator, Grant Broadcasters (23)

What makes Madison Agius a future leader in the audio industry?

“Being a part of the younger generation in radio, I am proud to be involved in positive change in this industry.

“I believe leadership is no longer solely required from those in executive or senior positions as it may have predominantly been in the past, but can come from across the board in all departments of all ages and experience levels. I strongly believe in encouraging an inclusive and diverse environment in which myself and my peers can feel confident, comfortable and safe, which can only enable personal and professional growth. That’s where change happens. I also know that we can learn so much from those around us and so I endeavour to always ask questions, keep curious and keep an open mind, and simply listen. I believe these qualities in myself reflect the leadership of the future.

“I work closely alongside my general manager Rod Winner (former SCA regional general manager) to soak up as much of his leadership style and quality traits as possible. I truly believe in his approach of leading by example through walking the talk, getting his hands dirty and always listening to others. He is not stuck in one mould of leadership style and I draw inspiration from this.

“There are only a handful of employees in my workplace below the age of 30, and I’m sure we aren’t the only building in Australia like this. I feel strongly that the Australian audio industry is reliant on young, innovative, collaborative, and curious individuals, and I am excited to be a part of this next cohort of youth to come through.”

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