A Day With… Charisse Soutar

We’re going behind the scenes with communications professionals across the APAC region, learning more about their diverse roles, what they love most about their jobs, and how they got there in the first place. In the eighth part of the series, we sat down with Charisse Soutar, General Manager, Employee Communication and Sustainability, at REA Group. 
Briefly describe a ‘day in the life’ of you as a communication professional

I start my day by catching up on the daily media report to keep up to date with industry news and then clear my emails. I work best with an action list, so I’ll check in with my team via Slack or Zoom and then confirm priorities. On an average day my time is split between stakeholder meetings, project work, planning and writing comms deliverables. Connecting across the business is an important part of the communications role so when I’m working in the office, I’ll make time for coffee catch ups and incidental connection as I get a lot of energy from face-to-face interaction. I spend half my week working virtually, so I’m deliberate about reaching out online to stay across what’s happening in different parts of the business. My role has a lot of variety and I enjoy the regular context switching. 

What’s the best part of your job?

The ability to impact people’s experience of work through sharing information, creative messaging, robust dialogue, and engaging narratives is very satisfying. REA has a unique culture with high employee engagement and our internal communication helps build this culture while also driving connection to purpose and strategy. My role also includes accountability for sustainability, and I get a lot of satisfaction from our progress on environmental and community initiatives. 

How did you enter the communications industry? (i.e., university study, internships, worked your way into communications, another route?)

I came to communications through a combination of on-the-job experience and study. My undergraduate degree was in Business Computing, and I found the business side was a better fit for me than IT. After graduating I worked in an IT Security role at a bank and really enjoyed the employee education and communication component of the role. I got the opportunity to do a secondment in a communications role at the same organisation and haven’t looked back. With the encouragement of a great communications mentor, I completed a Master of Media and Communication and continued to develop my skills on the job. 

What’s the best piece of communications advice you’ve been given?

Always use plain language. It’s not ground-breaking, but in corporate communication we can find ourselves using unnecessarily complex language to explain concepts or changes. Sometimes this complex language is used as a defence or disguise. Keeping it simple and telling it straight always gets a better result. And to go a step further ‘explain it like I’m 5’ works too!

What’s your superpower as a communication professional?

Pragmatism. I am flexible and agile in my approach to communications. I know there is usually more than one way to get the desired result and am comfortable switching up the approach to suit the current environment