Career advice from Brendon Cook, CEO of oOh! Media

Wednesday 11 April, 2018

Career advice from Brendon Cook, CEO of oOh! Media
He was ADMA Marketer of the Year in 2016, and is the International Vice President of global Out Of Home industry body FEPE (the Federation European Publicite Exterieur). And on Wednesday 28 March 2018, he was Warrane College’s welcomed guest at their formal dinner - Brendon Cook, CEO of oOh! Media
A leading operator in Australia and New Zealand’s fast-growing Out Of Home advertising industry, oOh! Media works to create engagement between people and brands through location-based media solutions. As Cook explained to the boys, media and advertising is very much a business that is about leading thinking.
Cook grew up in Sydney’s western suburbs and attended Marist Brothers. He didn’t put too much into his school studies but rather learnt on the job following school, and started his own business at age 28 – because of a recession, and with just $6,000 in his pocket. 
Cook founded oOh! in 1989 and transformed it from a traditional Out Of Home advertising business into a new data-driven, audience-led digital media company with content and publishing capabilities. These days it’s a Top 200 ASX company, with shareholders from around the world including; Silicon Valley, New York, London, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Australia/NZ.
He went on to share the following pieces of wisdom.


Ideals to uphold in business 
“Many of you will become leaders in your community,” said Cook. “The most important thing is you must remain humble, you must remain respectful of everyone around you. Because if you look at any great leader around the world, you’ll find that’s the core... Egotism is a big fallback.... It’s one thing to be confident; it’s another thing to be egotistical as you move through life.”
He continued: “So our business runs on some pretty basic values. Respect is key: respect for all teammates, respect for people you’re dealing with, respect for suppliers and respect for customers. Teamwork: working with people; really understanding how to work with people. We’re all different and it’s the beauty of our business – it’s a living organism. You don’t want everybody to be the same. If everyone’s the same you get narrower thinking... And fun: enjoying everyone’s company...at oOh! we feel like a family.”


Adding value to society
Cook explained the importance of a business having more than financial reasons for operating. “We’re a commercial business; our job is to sell space, it’s what we do for a living, we make money, try to help people sell stuff to you guys... But within that you can ensure that you’re adding value to society in more than just financial rewards... For us the best way we can do community purpose is we were the first Out Of Home Company globally, to employ a full-time community manager. We actively go out and seek causes to support... We as a business get right behind that charity... our staff can take time off to support charities... I think any business that doesn’t have a strong social conscience will fail ultimately.”

Keeping the future in mind
Cook also told the boys a couple of ways in which he has learnt to look towards the future in his business dealings. The first? Working on machine learning. “Why? Because machine learning will provide process and efficiency, to give humans the time to do the things that humans do well – to create and thinking. And that’s really what we’re trying to move to.” 
Another thing he suggested the boys think about was disruption. “So as a business person, the challenge we have today is how we think about disruption,” said Cook. “As a leader, my job is to think about disruption. How can this business be disruptive? And start to take action years and years in advance of that disruption to give you some chance of surviving. Because whichever way we look at it, on average, most big businesses today have about a 15-year lifespan. Will Facebook look like Facebook in 15 years? Will Google look like Google in 15 years? Unlikely. There will be something else happening. So the one thing I’d suggest to you in whatever career you’re in – start to say to yourself, what am I really learning... and what could disrupt it?” 
 

(Photographs from the evening are available here)

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