| By Nick Bayes Expert View
The Perth communications industry without any Poms
Before everyone starts cheering, this could be a distinct possibility for the future, due to the Federal Government abolishing the 457 visa. It would also mean fewer Canadians, Americans, South Africans and other nationalities, all of which have had countrymen and women that have contributed in a big way to the success and development of the industry in our state.
In the past 20 years in Perth there’s been Ronnie Duncan, Mark Fretten, Adam Marshall, Mark Pinney, Marc Loveridge, Steve Straw, Gary Horner and before them as sponsored skilled migrants, Paul Yole, Debra Neve, Iain Rowe, Andrew Lindsay and John Downing. And there’s many more that don’t immediately spring to mind. It was the same in Sydney when I arrived as a backpacker just before the 2000 Olympics. Over half of the agency heads in the harbour city were Poms and it was ridiculously easy for me to get a job thanks to my English accent and London experience.
Yes, all of these people, myself included, have benefitted greatly from the WA industry, the sunny weather and the amazing lifestyle. But they have also helped create the industry we love, by training people, bringing with them new ideas and ways of doing things and in turn attracting new talent to WA from Australia and around the world.
Please don’t think I’m saying that without a few Poms and a spattering of other nationalities the industry in WA would be non-existent. I’m a Pom myself, but I don’t have an ingrained colonial bias and I believe the homegrown talent we have here is some of the best in the world, just look at Matt Eastwood et al.
We have 16 different nationalities in The Brand Agency Perth head office and I’m very proud of this. I think it strengthens our culture and definitely makes us a more successful organisation. In fact, with the globalisations of client’s markets I think it’s a necessity. But to survive and flourish into the future as an industry we need to focus on growing the talent we have in our state, and there’s lots of it. Graduate programs such as the Communication Council’s Jump Start program and Award School are invaluable in attracting and nurturing the best talent, encouraging them to choose our industry above others.
So what does the future look like? Agencies will still need to employ people from overseas, however they manage to do it. It’s important to create a global perspective, Perth can already be more bothered about the footy scores than world issues, and this isn’t healthy. We need different approaches and fresh thinking. But we need to focus on our young people and how we can help them develop their outlook outside the Australian market. This comes from an investment in training and exposure to thinking outside our state.
How will The Brand Agency do this? We’re doing it already. By giving some of our Australian staff the opportunity to work in our offices overseas and opportunities to travel outside Australia to benefit from experiences that simply aren’t available on our shores. And because we are part of the WPP global network, we are lucky to be an international agency based in Perth, giving us access to training and insights not available to others. But in spite of these advantages the opportunity is simple. Focus on our young people with structured training and development and they will ensure the success of not only each communications business in Perth but also the industry as a whole. Poms….who needs them?