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Canberra Communications Professional Series: Astrid O’Neill

Astrid was nominated by Lisa Ranson who is a fellow board member on the IABC Canberra board. Since 2018, Astrid has worked at Cordelta as a content writer, designer and now Content Lead. She is a girl after my own heart who loves nothing more than combining travel and work ! Astrid wants to help Canberran Communications Professionals connect, so I was so grateful that she agreed to participate!

What did you do before Cordelta?

Like many communicators, I’ve had plenty of different (and some very odd) jobs to help me through my studies and while starting out in the industry. Before focusing on digital communication, I freelanced for two years, generally taking on any paying challenge I could find. I ghosted articles and wrote everything from speeches to technical manuals. It helped me to become more versatile.

What does a normal day look like for you?

I’m currently working for the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources with a team of people who are passionate about helping Australian businesses. My day tends to consist of researching users’ experiences and investigating ways to make our content and processes even better for our colleagues and clients. Zoom and coffee are constants.

Outside of those hours, I support our local IABC Canberra chapter, and connect the exceptional writers, editors and strategists in our Cordelta Digital network with the organisations that need them.

Can you tell us about one of your career highlights?

I think you should find ways to enjoy work as much as you can. I realise my highlights tend to be where work, fun and travel intersect. For example, meeting up in San Francisco with an author whose book I edited was pretty special; it helped me to understand their perspective and the places that shaped them. They showed me a side to the city I would never have otherwise experienced.

I’m grateful to now be part of a team that loves to have a good time and looks for ways to bring people in our industry together… Like late last year, when a handful of us travelled to beautiful Hobart to attend the DrupalSouth conference we sponsored.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career? How did you overcome it?

I’ve learned to be excited for challenges, which has been a big challenge in itself. I’m sure there are obstacles still to come, but I’m now more confident in being a kind of hurdler. When I started to feel a bit stuck in a previous job, like there was no way to go in the direction my curiosity was pulling me, I gave freelancing a go. That was daunting, but it gave me the exposure and skills I needed to seek out even better communication work

What changes do you think will occur in communications over the next decade?

I’d like to see digital technology become even more invisible, meaning it’s easier for people to engage with organisations. I work to help make cross-channel experiences better and know there’s a lot of potential in this area. Communicators will need to manage content more intelligently, so they’re not duplicating effort across channels and instead making each piece work to help people easily self-serve, no matter how they engage. People’s expectations for chatbot, web chat and other instant message responses will be even higher. They’ll expect almost a kind of mind reading. Managing content centrally will be key.

Who inspires you? Why?

I love getting to know people who are brilliant at what they do professionally but who also have great stories to share and don’t take life too seriously. I’m fortunate to work with many of them.

What is your favourite book or podcast?

I binge Hedley Thomas’s podcasts. Content Design by Sarah Richards is a kind of bible for the work I do. And Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert recently jolted me out of a creative rut.

Who has been the most influential person in your career? Why?

I believe in influencing your own career by having confidence in your ability to problem-solve and do good work for people, even if you don’t feel immensely qualified at the outset. A lot of the significant events in my professional life didn’t really seem significant at the time and they often came about because I tried something different or dared to ask for advice or help. A seemingly random opportunity you say ‘yes’ to can push you in an interesting direction, and the insight you gain can surface in unexpected and useful ways. As communicators, the ability to empathise with people from all walks of life is immensely valuable and is strengthened through all kinds of experiences

If you could share one tip with other communications professionals what would it be?

Connect with your industry peers. It’s helpful to know you can tap into a community of professionals who can understand your experiences and share insights or strategies you can apply to your own work. Or commiserate with you over a wine! We’re not meant to go at it alone. I always welcome people reaching out to me, especially if they’re interested in the opportunities available for communicators in the digital space. I’m happy to chat anytime!

A bit more about Astrid…

Astrid is a content lead at Cordelta Digital, helping organisations communicate clearly to the people who rely on their online services. Since earning a bachelor of writing and completing postgraduate study, she’s written for clients including a global systems integrator, public relations firm and sports apparel brand. She’s interested in the communication challenges and possibilities that digital media presents to business.

You can read more about Astrid on her LinkedIn profile.

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