Meeting of the Minds: News Corp’s Tom Sheppard and Emily Van Arendonk

meeting of the minds logo - March 1

Sheppard and Van Arendonk share their perspectives, thoughts and opinions.

This week’s Meeting of the Minds sees News Corp Australia’s Tom Sheppard and Emily Van Arendonk reveal their leadership heroes, current streaming binge and career goals.

The Mediaweek series showcases their diverse perspectives, thoughts and opinions by bringing together two different points of view from an industry rookie and an experienced expert.

Tom Sheppard, Client Strategy Director, Newsamp, NSW Consortium

meeting of the minds Tom Sheppard

Best career advice – “Don’t run away from or try to hide your flaws. Understand them, embrace them, and plan around them. You’ll be both authentic & more efficient.”

My favourite podcast/read – The Daily Stoic. As a creative and empath in a high-pressure environment, starting the day with a reminder to separate the overflow of emotion from the logic of the matter helps me to frame and remain efficient.

Current streaming binge – Currently enjoying bingeing through The Great British Bake Off on Foxtel. The calm, friendly energy of contestants and hosts, and the peaceful audio is a bit of an antidote to the overstimulation of the modern day to day.

Leadership hero – Out of left field, but also topical. Andy Reid, Head Coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. Leads with intelligence, adaptability to the players currently on his team, kindness and an interesting mix of fun and no-nonsense structures.

I wish someone had told me – Basic financial literacy. Thankfully I met my wife.

Guilty content pleasure – Currently running through the Fast & Furious saga with my son. Enjoying the ridiculous evolution from stealing DVD players from a truck to ‘driving’ a car through a satellite in outer space. 

Best training course/session – It would be a tie. One of the most influential on me as a strategist at Newsamp, News Corp Australia’s Client Strategy and Solutions arm, was Nicole Velik’s Ideas Bodega. Her ideation structures and creative process exercises are still formats that I use to this day. For Leadership, I was lucky enough to go along to a week-long course with John Eales, who helped me understand the difference between a leader & a boss. Not being afraid to be human, or showing you can’t do it all. It takes a team to win, not a leader.

Your mentor – Too many to name over the years, but Daniel Lane was one of my first bosses during my first stint at News Corp Australia 15 years ago who taught me about bringing my authentic self to work, and then how to make my authentic self more professional.

Hot medium or show – If you haven’t seen The Rehearsal, you’re not interested enough in human behaviour. 

Favourite media event – A little (maybe a lot) biassed, but The Growth Distillery workshop events scheduled for 2024.  A dedicated research and intelligence offering available to brands, businesses and industries. Inspired customer thinking, created by diverse thinkers, and delivered through engaging and interactive workshops that fuels growth strategies for customer-focused businesses… Now that’s a pitch. 

Wish I’d done that – A little old now, but the P&G Superbowl ads for Tide were my favourite creative activation of the last few years. Subverting expectations, appearing to be advertising various consumer products, only to reveal that, in fact, it was a Tide ad. The way it played with people’s minds for a 5 hour commercial broadcast was an amazing example of taking a somewhat tired format (albeit with mass scale) and turning it into 5 hours of brand engagement.

Career goal for 2024 – Find my balance between achieving goals in senior leadership & being dedicated to the craft of strategy. I’m sure there’s a perfect balance/venn diagram between the two, and it’s my mission this year to find it.

Emily Van Arendonk, Strategy Manager, Newsamp, NSW Consortium

meeting of the minds Emily Van Arendonk

Best career advice – Figure out how to make your differences your superpower. Don’t hide behind normative thinking, embrace how your mind works and make that part of your unique style. It will go further than trying to mimic those around you ever will.  

My favourite podcast/read – I’m an absolute book nerd, always losing myself into the world of words. Atonement is a book I wish I could read over and over again but one that broke my heart. A true must-read. For work though I really enjoyed Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Current streaming binge – I’ve been loving the True Detective series on Binge. Nothing like a little bit of mystery crime to help stop the stream of work thoughts.  

Leadership hero – Steven Bartlett (insert watch this space #TheGrowthDistillery). He’s a leader who keeps his values central to the way he manages his business and builds his career. He doesn’t bend in the way the industry expects of a CEO and it’s that ability to shift expectations and succeed that I look up to. Being different, to be better. 

I wish someone had told me – There is no perfect process to strategy. Find the way that works for you, edit and adapt as you grow. 

Guilty content pleasure – It’s embarrassing how many times I have rewatched Friends

Best training course/session – You can make anything a learning opportunity, I’m focused on holding a Growth mindset, being aware and listening to your weaknesses and seeking out opportunities to build on your ability. Whether it be applying to an esteemed course or speaking to your peers and organising learning sessions, everywhere can offer you experience and growth. 

Your mentor – I’ve had the privilege of collecting a range of mentors across my career. From working with Kathryn Kennedy from Beiersdorf when I first finished my undergrad to being paired with Gai Le Roy from the IAB mentorship program. Now I can call many people at my work a mentor including Head of Strategy & Solutions, Newsamp NSW Consortium, Danica Robinson and Client Strategy Director, Newsamp, Tom Sheppard. As a young woman still building her career I see mentorship as paramount to creating a career you’re proud of and opening doors you would never have known were there. 

Hot medium or show – I’m loving podcasts at the moment! From She’s on the Money, to anything from Shameless media, podcasting is filling my day!

Favourite media event – I was able to attend the SXSW event in Sydney last year and it was a stand out. As someone obsessed with creativity, the range of talks and panels was amazing. I’m hoping it returns again this year. 

Wish I’d done that – Written a book. Always obsessed with writing but never finished it… Maybe one day my draft will see the light of day. 

Career goal for 2024 – Start sharing more of the knowledge and skills I have had the ability to learn and build. It brings me so much joy to share and mentor, helping others find confidence in their abilities and approach a new way of thinking. I hope I can help others build their strategic thinking and #AuthenticEdge. 

To take part in future editions of Meeting of the Minds please email: [email protected]

For past editions of Meeting of the Minds see here

Top Image: Tom Sheppard and Emily Van Arendonk

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