Communicating the vision of multinational corporations is a speciality of Luke Fredberg. He discusses with UOW Outlook Magazine his current focus – CBS Corporation and the Golden Age of Television.
As Vice-President of International Communications for CBS Corporation, Fredberg is charged with communicating the global strategy for the company, and is a key player in their international external communications team. It’s a varied and energising role, and one he clearly relishes.
“For me, multinational companies are all about the diversity,” he explains. “Every day I’m working with new and different people: in the morning I could be on the phone to Asia; in the afternoon emailing back and forth with Europe; and in the evening, on a call with LA discussing strategy, or a new project or show we’re about to launch.”
CBS Corporation has a solid reputation as an international leader in the creation and distribution of high quality content to audiences around the world, with operations in virtually every field of media and entertainment.
Though headquartered in the United States, CBS’s reach and influence is undeniably global. Working from his base in London, Fredberg helps provide a link between their businesses and audiences across the world. When he joined the company as Director of International Communications in 2009, CBS was quick to recognise his talent and potential, promoting him to his current senior executive role within two years.
Growing up in Adelaide, the UOW Master of Journalism graduate spent some time working with fashion, youth and lifestyle brands for integrated communications agency Spin Communications before leaving Australia for the United Kingdom, landing the role that shifted gears in his career: Head of Consumer and Sponsorship Public Relations for Visa in Europe. The role encompassed public relations activation of the company’s large-scale global sponsorships and marketing campaigns.
“Visa has some of the most significant sponsorships in the world, so it meant that I got the chance to work on things like the Olympic Games and the Rugby World Cup,” Fredberg says. “The frequent travel across Europe really gave me a grounding in the media landscape of those individual countries, and a solid basis for future international PR and communications roles.”
Fredberg says the role helped him shape the calm professionalism for which he’s known, citing a memorable press conference in Istanbul, held soon after he first arrived in London. “There were about a hundred journalists in the press conference, and they were smoking and talking throughout the whole thing, and it was absolute chaos,” he recalls. “From that moment onwards, I thought ‘this is what international communications is like; you need to adapt to the situation that you’re in, you need to understand different cultures, different people, different attitudes towards the press, and just work from there’. It’s really about keeping that level of professionalism, always.”
From there, he spent a year heading up communications across Europe and India for TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, before moving to CBS, at what he describes as a fascinating time in the media and entertainment industry’s history. “We talk a lot about it being the golden age of the small screen. Television is increasingly being seen as a medium that has a lot of space for creativity, so now it’s attracting all the best directors and actors. I’m really fortunate to be a part of it.”
Travel is a key driver — personally and professionally — for Fredberg, who as a child dreamed of becoming an international pilot. Since leaving Australian shores, he has travelled extensively for both work and pleasure, from contrasting places such as Syria and Myanmar, to the glitz and glamour of Cannes and Monte Carlo. He speaks four languages, and has spent significant amounts of time in places like the United States, Istanbul, Italy, Greece and India, along with a two-year stint in Paris. But London has been his base over the last 13 years, and he still loves its buzz.
“London is certainly the most international of cities that I’ve ever lived in, and is arguably the most international city in the world,” he says. “Professionally, I don’t think I could be in a better city than here. From an international communications perspective, London is really where all the action is happening.”
Travelling the world through his work has also opened up opportunities for Fredberg to give something back. “When I was with Visa I worked in Turkey on an education program for young Kurdish children, out by the Turkey-Iraq border,” he recalls. “I got to spend a lot of time out there. It was something I’m quite proud of — it really felt like you were making a difference.”
Education is another of Fredberg’s passions. Alongside his work for CBS he has begun to mentor students at the University of the Arts London, giving the next generation of leaders the benefit of his incredible experience and insight as they shape their own careers in an increasingly globalised world.
“When it comes to business nowadays, being able to adapt and change and work within a diverse environment is so important,” he says. So what does the future hold for Fredberg? Wherever it leads, you can be sure it will involve travel, new destinations and creativity in abundance.