STEPHEN FISHER - GENERAL MANAGER - HATCHED MEDIA
Can you provide a short work bio – where you started, where you are now?
I began my career in media about 20 years ago in a small independent agency in London where I did a couple of years “apprenticeship”. I worked with some amazing people and specifically had two mentors who continue to impact and affect my career. In 2003 I moved to Australia and got a job at Initiative. We only had a couple of clients, but they included Bunnings and JB Hi Fi which were about to go through a decade of amazing growth. I spent 14 years with Mediabrands, and testament to the fact that if you stick around in one place long enough they give you a big job, I ended up in the Managing Director role. I’m now General Manager of Hatched Media in Melbourne and very happy that we’ve got a few people embarking on their very own apprenticeships here with us.
What is the focus of your current role?
My focus is pretty simple. Ensure we have happy people who are engaged, motivated and challenged enough to do good work, creating long term relationships with clients.
You were with Initiative for over a decade. What prompted your move from Initative to Hatched Media?
It was just the right time for a change on a few fronts. After working for Mediabrands for so long I needed a break and also a slightly different challenge. Leaving was a huge moment, but as it turned out, also really liberating. I was lucky enough that I got the chance to take step back for a couple of months and get a broader perspective on lots of things; life, work, the industry. Doing that made joining Hatched really easy. The independence is something that was important to me, as was working in a business where culture and people are the most important priorities.
What do you love about the current media landscape in Melbourne?
I feel that Melbourne is really coming into it’s own. We’ve always been a big market but it feels like the industry here has got a bit more swagger about it. Independence has become a big factor in the market. Not just the rise in the independent agency space, which is brilliant to see, but the networked agencies here have also become much less dependent on their Sydney counterparts. We’re seeing more national roles based in Melbourne, more creativity and awards coming out of Melbourne and more national clients moving their businesses to Melbourne.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career so far? And how did you overcome it?
I’m fortunate enough that I haven’t had to overcome too many hurdles in terms of blockages to career development. The biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome is actually around confidence. I tend to want to stay as far out of the limelight as possible, and in an industry full of personalities and ego’s that has sometimes been a bit pf a challenge. I’ve had a couple of pieces of advice over my career which really resonated with me. The first was from an old boss, who was a massive character, a brilliant thinker on his feet and loved the “show” of what we do, who basically said that you have to find your own strengths and rythms, versus trying to replicate what you think being successful looks like and playing up to that. The second thing is something I live by everyday. I was told it’s a military analogy, but think it fits the broader world really well - “When you are under pressure and stress, you sink to the level of your preparation”. The lesson for me was do your research and be prepared for the situations you put yourself in.
What do you look for when hiring for your team?
I tend to hire on attitude and cultural fit and then train and develop roles for specific skills. Obviously having the right skill set and expertise are vitally important but those hard skills always need to be tempered with a level of empathy and focus on working within a team.
What makes Hatched Media a brilliant place to work?
It’s cliché I know, but the people. There is a great energy about our business, simply because of our team. It comes right from the top in our MD, Jack, who is one of the smartest blokes going around. He has held a long term philoshophy around creating a positive culture with individual happiness right at it’s core.
What advice would you give to a young person looking to step into a career in media?
Jump in. It is an astoundingly diverse industry and can be the gateway into so many different opportunities. The difference and diversity in the type of work that someone starting today will experience between the beginning and end of their careers is mind boggling, and almost unmatched by any other industry. The other bit of advice that I’d give, is be aware you’re playing a long game. It’s really important to respect people you work with, no matter what role you may be doing. Most people you work with today will be there for most of your working life and you’ll grow up in your career with them. They will be your biggest advocates.
Who is someone you admire and why?
Again a bit cliché but there are a few people that I really admire. I saw David Attenborough speak last year and it was a hugely inspiring experience because of his passion. I also find people like Professor Brian Cox fascinating because they are able to take really complex and intangible things and make them simpler to wrap your head around, which is quite a skill!
What do you enjoy doing in your downtime?
Spending time with family. My kids, who are 11 & 8 are a brilliant age to do stuff with. Whether it’s bike rides, footy at the park, heading out to watch a movie or playing the role of taxi service to soccer or netball, any downtime fills up pretty quickly!
If you weren’t working in media what would you be doing?
I love making and restoring stuff. I’m trying to learn some of the finer elements of carpentry, so it’d definitely be something where I get to spend time outside creating things using real materials and tools.