Monica is the owner of Big Bang Social, a local Canberran consultancy that focuses on supporting not for profits. Monica and I worked together earlier this year to support the 2020 Gift of Life Walk, promoting organ donation in the ACT. It was such a pleasure working with Monica. She has such a positive outlook and is calm and patient no matter what is thrown her way. We can all learn something about that.
When did you start Big Bang Social?
I established my business in June 2019.
What did you do before you started your own business?
I have enjoyed a long career in marketing and communications, largely with not-for-profit and for-purpose organisations. Over the past 20 years I have held senior marketing and communications roles with wonderful organisations like Reconciliation Australia, the National Museum of Australia, Presbyterian Support Otago (NZ), the Canberra Institute of Technology and Triathlon ACT. I have always enjoyed working within organisations that make a positive contribution to community and people’s health and wellbeing.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I love my office. I’ve established a wonderful creative space in one of the upstairs bedrooms of our townhouse in Lyneham. It’s a light-filled space with a small desk, whiteboard, comfy chair, two drum-kits and a keyboard. Lately, this is where I spend most of my days, thanks to Covid19. You’ll find me here thinking, writing, or editing (for my clients or my own business) and when I need a break – I practice paradiddles on the drums!
Like most people in these Corona Virus times, I spend more time in indoors and in my home-office than I had anticipated. Video-conferencing has been great, but I miss coffee-catch ups and events. I look forward to going back to those ‘normal’ days.
Can you tell us about one of your career highlights?
I’ve enjoyed a few career highlights, but perhaps the most impactful was attending the Garma Festival in East Arnhem Land in 2017 and 2018 when I was Director of Communications & Engagement with Reconciliation Australia. Garma is held annually, over four days in August on the land of the Yolngu people.
Attending the festival was an incredible opportunity to experience the rich cultural heritage of Yolngu people, including traditional miny'tji (art), ancient story-telling, manikay (song) and bunggul (dance). My absolute favourite part of the experience was attending the bunggul ground in the evenings to see young and old people dancing to contemporary versions of traditional music. The bands were fantastic and the energy on the bunggul ground was so enlivening.
Over the past 12 years Reconciliation Australia has hosted a ‘women’s camp’ for senior non-Indigenous women at the event. I camped with BHP board members, ABC execs, politicians, KMPG partners and other very accomplished and influential women. The event had a profound affect on all of them and I’ve no doubt that these women carried the reconciliation message back to their respective board rooms and worked harder to ensure their organisations were contributing to the national reconciliation movement.
I’m also very proud of the 2018 National Reconciliation Week campaign – Don’t Keep History a Mystery. The TVC, corporate engagement program and social media campaign all received a great response with the highest level of national engagement in the Week since 2000. AND, Mark Latham hated the campaign – so that’s a feather in my cap!
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
One of biggest communications challenges I have faced was building internal support for a brand re-fresh of Presbyterian Support Otago’s (PSO) network of aged care homes. PSO is a 110-year-old institution and the south island’s first provider of aged care services. It is a ‘heritage’ brand in every sense of the word. The organisation enjoys strong support from the Otago community and has a high number of long-serving staff and volunteers.
Working with staff to build a strong case for change was as important, and perhaps more challenging, than delivering the external branding strategy. It required time, patience, an open-mind, and respect. It is often said that you must ‘bring people with you’ on any major change journey. I think zealous comms professionals can sometimes under-estimate the importance of building internal allies when embarking on a brand change program.
What changes do you think will occur in communications over the next decade?
Not sure I can look 10 years ahead, but I think over the next five years we’re going to see the use of video in digital comms continue to increase. I also think local community groups and entrepreneurs will step in and fill the void left by the closure of many regional newspapers. I think people still want local news and we’ll go back to where it all started with local contributors and distribution, perhaps going back to print, complementing online editions.
Who inspires you? Why?
Jacinda Ardern. She inspires everybody doesn’t she? I love her honesty, direct approach and her politics. She’s about improving the lives of ALL New Zealanders, not just those who have traditionally benefitted from the status quo.
What is your favourite book or podcast?
I recently read Secret River by Kate Grenville. It tells the story of Australia’s colonisation from the perspective of one convict family. It’s a tough read at times as it lays out how land was taken from Aboriginal people through some horrific practices like poisoning water sources, militia attacks and enslavement. The book is not so much a ‘favourite’ that I’d read over and over again, but it is a book that I think about a lot. It helps contextualise long-standing grievances in relation to Aboriginal sovereignty and inter-generational trauma.
Who has been the most influential person in your career? Why?
My sister, Anita. She took off from Canberra to Donnybook, WA to start a new life and a new business over 10 years ago. It was a bold, brave move with big challenges, but she has worked hard, stuck to her values and made a great success of her hand-made soap business – Green Being Ecostore. She has shown me that with a good idea, hard work and bit of courage you can be successful in your own business. Check out Green Being’s fabulous products on her website, Facebook and Instagram
If you could share one tip with other communications professionals what would it be?
Listen to your audience. Find out what interests them and tailor your message accordingly.
A bit more about Monica…
Monica is a skilled communications and marketing professional with over 15 years marketing management experience in the not-for-profit and for-purpose sectors. Monica has led major national and regional marketing campaigns both in Australia and New Zealand, including high impact social media strategies. Her hands-on experience is backed-up by tertiary marketing qualifications and a Master of Business.
Learn more about Monica on LinkedIn.