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“I get to work with some of the biggest talents and brands, and it’s always exhilarating when you are in the room with these amazing writers, directors, performers and collaborators,” says Serena Lau, the Director, Audible Studios IN at Audible.
Lau was hired to support the growth of the audio entertainment company’s Unscripted Originals slate in India, and, shortly thereafter, became Director, Audible Studios India, looking after all originals development and content production for the marketplace. On top of that, Serena has recently taken up ‘stretch-goal’ assignments; working with leadership to realize original audio-programming initiatives across the Asia-Pacific region (APAC).
“My resume will tell you that I’ve been in the entertainment industry producing TV, OTT and digital video content for more than two decades. I connected with Audible two years ago when I had the opportunity to work on some new development and unscripted originals, and I knew immediately that this was the next step in my next career path and I have not looked back since,” she tells Fairygodboss. “I am a storyteller at heart, and Audible has given me a new storytelling dimension that is exciting, innovative, and imaginative.”
In her role, Lau works “very closely with the content acquisition and strategy lead, to define the commissioning strategy and delivery of key KPIs, with specific focus on original, statement-making podcasts across all genres,” she explains. “Part of my work is to identify good stories, originate ideas for new factual programming, manage an extensive development pipeline of third-party ideas (sourced from writers, producers, rights owners, etc.), identify, vet and assemble the right talents and collaborators, and oversee new commissions from development through to release.”
We caught up with Lau to learn more about her proudest achievements, memorable career advice and more.
Shortly after I joined, I became the overall Audible Studios Lead in India, (a newly formed unit comprising development, production and production operations). I had to combine my creative expertise with an operational skillset to identify gaps and put processes in place — optimizing the teams and their output. As a result, one of my biggest achievements was the way in which I retrained and mentored the existing content development team into end-to-end line producers, covering development all the way to delivery and launch. And, I set the framework for production operations and ensured my operations lead is set for success with her new role and scope.
The process changes I was able to make to the overall creative output of the Content operation will have considerable impact for the years to come. And, the training and processes translate to the more consistent performance that we are seeing in the team today. I am really proud that I was able to bring everyone together and function as one seamless unit at a time when COVID-19 had us all working from home.
I joined during the pandemic and was onboarded remotely; I did not get to meet anyone in person from my team for seven months! But there was no lack of “Activate Caring”! Everyone was so helpful and patient with all my questions and my manager was also constantly making sure that I was not overwhelmed or on my own. It made a huge difference to me as a new hire.
Working from home also means I have more flexibility with my work-life balance, and I was able to carve out time to do a ton of research and data studies to “Study and Draw Inspiration From Culture & Technology”, and make great strides in “Customer Obsession.” Whilst I have a great deal of international work-experience, and have spent considerable time working in Asia, as a Singaporean focusing on Indian entertainment, I knew I could and should, learn even more, given the field is ever-evolving. I was able to use my time to dive deep into the Indian creative and cultural landscape and build my local knowledge so that I can engage with my colleagues in India all while having a good understanding of the possible customer needs.
I have access to various leadership trainings, idea-sharing groups, think tanks and am constantly informed and inducted to new products and technology. I am surrounded by so many talented individuals and an amazing content team that I am constantly learning from.
The opportunity to gain new knowledge and develop new skills is perhaps the biggest motivation and inspiration that Audible has gifted me. With innovation at their core and data analytics available at my fingertips, I also gained new insights on creative, cultural and social trends, as well as a deeper understanding of audience behavior, which ultimately helped me to create better content and programming for our customers.
This year we have had an Audible Wellness Day every quarter for us to put work aside, focus on ourselves, and enjoy a day where we just take care of our own well-being. I really enjoy these days when I can go to the beach, take long walks and dedicate a day to immerse myself in nature.
I started my career in news, and my mentor told me that I have to learn to listen to my gut and follow my passion. Learning to trust my gut took a while, but once I did, I was able to hone my skills and story instincts, and that has served me well in my career path as a producer. My passion is telling stories, and I am lucky that I get to go all-in on my strengths, doing what I enjoy and what I’m good at.
To me, Spectrum and Belonging means respecting and celebrating all spectrums of humanity and diversity, because there is a culture of inclusivity where voices of marginalized groups, genders, ages, and ethnicities are heard. I am really proud that at Audible, we embrace our differences and we invite everyone to bring their authentic selves to our culture of belonging.
I love our People Principles, which are ever-present in our culture, and are anchored in the belief that the ideas and input of all employees are worth listening to. I love that Audible has a culture of listening that expands to our customers and our community.