Creative Group Head, The Wilderness Society, Melbourne
Bachelor of Communication Studies in Advertising Creativity
Communication skills are vital for anyone doing anything, anywhere, says AUT advertising alumnus Jono Aidney who now works in Melbourne for the environmental group The Wilderness Society.
“Who would have thought the same skills used to sell cars and microwave meals can also be used to create social change?
“My job is to sneak environmentalism into mainstream culture, acting as a conduit between environmentalists and everyday Australians. I’m lucky to work with passionate people doing amazing things. But if nobody knows about those amazing things, it’s hard to raise the money to keep doing them. By persuading new audiences to support our work, I’m using the skills I learned at AUT to help our organisation grow.”
Challenging conventional thinking
Jono decided to pursue his passion for environmentalism after a successful career as an advertising executive in New Zealand and Australia.
“While I’m of course proud of the awards I received throughout my advertising career, my main source of motivation has always been solving tricky problems. My favourite problem was creating a real-life Choose Your Own Adventure tale for the Melbourne Writers Festival. It was set in Melbourne’s CBD, and you could twist the narrative of your story by turning down different laneways.”
As much as he enjoyed the problem-solving aspect of advertising, after a decade in the industry Jono realised he couldn’t stop thinking about social change and the environment.
“I was working at a big, exciting advertising agency when I started to think a lot about climate change and biodiversity loss. That’s why I decided to join The Wilderness Society.”
He decided to apply for AUT’s communications degree inspired by a family friend, Jono says.
“A friend of the family had studied at AUT and was working for Metro magazine. Writing sounded like a fun job. I chose to major in advertising because it felt rebellious, and advertising felt like an industry I wanted to impact myself upon.”
The mix of theory and practice was what Jono enjoyed most about his studies at AUT.
“I surprised myself by really enjoying the meaty academic stuff. It matured my thinking and helped me think differently about the practical work. I notice it in the media today – some of the most thoughtful public voices belong to people I studied with at AUT.”