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KAREN LOBENDAHN TELEVISION’S POWERHOUSE

KAREN LOBENDAHN

- By JOHN MITCHELL Photos by JONE LUVENITOGA

Karen Lobendahn’s journey to the pinnacle of Fiji’s television’s industry is a story worth telling. She stands tall amongst women who have dared to push the boundaries in a male-dominated world and fares equally among men of power in the corporate sector. Since her ascension to the position Chief Executive Officer of Fiji Television Limited in mid 2017 she has worked diligently to make “positive returns in a very competitiv­e market”. Recently, her efforts have gotten her recognised as Fiji’s Executive Woman of the Year at the 2018 Women In Business Awards. Looking back over the past 12 months, the characteri­stically humble mother of two showed genuine excitement over her own achievemen­ts and her team’s accomplish­ments in salvaging the company from out of the red, among other successes. “When I took over the role of CEO last year Fiji TV had experience­d a very slow start to the financial year. I knew that I had to do my best to motivate the team to improve our financial position,” Lobendahn said. “Since day one, and my team knows this very well, my strategy has been to improve revenue results, explore new opportunit­ies and continuous­ly manage costs. Seeing these results is a catalyst for us to continue and move to the next level.” Lobendahn grew up in Pacific Harbour, attending Lomary Primary School and later St Joseph’s Secondary School in Suva. She was raised in a family of seven and is the youngest daughter of Rosemary and Neville Amputch. “My father came from a huge family of 12 and my mother came from a family of seven,” Lobendahn said. “My dad passed away in 1996. I believe he is still with us in all my siblings, as special traits of this can be seen in all the different things that we all do.” Lobendahn’s leadership journey began early, in Lomary Primary School when she was named head girl in 1990. From there on there was no looking back. Her future at the top echelon of the Fiji’s corporate realm seemed an attainable reality. Her career in television began in 1996 within the administra­tion unit. Later she moved into what was then the programmin­g department, which looked after all content acquisitio­n, content scheduling and local programme production. “My role in this department grew over the

“If life is a journey into the unknown then commerce would be the same” Karen Lobendahn

years and my relationsh­ip with content suppliers and business colleagues developed. I remained in the department and grew my career, amassing experience and business relationsh­ips from content suppliers that span the globe.” “I still keep in contact with these today as well as many other suppliers who all know of Fiji TV and what we can do for their content in this region.” Lobendahn’s attitude toward work and the values she lives by daily don’t come as a surprise. She proudly attributes them to her parents. “My drive and motivation comes from my father, who instilled values and belief within all his children as to what we should and could be,” she said. “My mother, whom I consult every so often is just like her name ‘Rosemary’ – beautiful and endearing like a rose but we know not to get on her wrong side as she could also correct us – and it could hurt like those thorns on the rose. “We all love her and since she turned 70 we celebrate every time we are together with her.” Lobendahn believes her old school style of upbringing together with practical skills steered her well during her journey to the top. “You can almost say commerce is really using your common sense in doing business. Being practical, being realistic and being aware of what’s around in the market… learning to seize the moments, to celebrate the victories and take lessons from the falls.” “If life is a journey into the unknown then commerce would be the same – a journey being mindful of cost implicatio­ns as you proceed.” Lobendahn’s past 12 months at the peak of the country’s television industry, one in which her predecesso­rs were all males, continues to test her competence as the most powerful woman in the media. Her ability to negotiate and acquire compelling television content has ranked as her strongest point. “This is content born out of Fiji Television’s negotiatio­ns and solid relationsh­ips was establishe­d as early as 1994 and continues today,” she said. She said Fiji TV has been the force behind some of the biggest television moments and key events for viewers to experience and enjoy, such as world tournament­s in rugby, netball, athletics, rugby league and soccer among others. “Fiji TV is proud of its 24 years of operations in Fiji and we continue to bring to Fiji homes compelling and relevant content that puts us apart

from others.” Fiji TV has been providing free-to-air broadcast Services through Fiji One since the company first entered the market. It was also the first to provide 24-hour television entertainm­ent, live news bulletins and coverage of many major events. A number of brands under the Fiji TV banner have also grown, including Channel 2, Inhouse Production­s and PACTOK, a radio telecommun­ications business in partnershi­p with Motorola. As the woman at the helm, Lobendahn is happy with the way her company’s brands have performed. “Fiji TV Livestream ensures that you connect with a wider audience in real time on any device, and Pacific services is an arm of Fiji TV that provides content for the Pacific Islands,” she said. Pacific Services is a hub for major sporting content such as world cup tournament­s, rugby league and golf to name a few. “These brands all speak volumes for themselves and we believe Fiji TV as a brand continues to work with our advertiser­s, customers and viewers in providing the best service in the media industry.” On her recent award, Lobendahn said what got her the special recognitio­n was teamwork and support from those who work with her at Brown Street and those dear to her at home. She said her family members had been her unsung heroes through good and bad times, especially her husband Fernando and two teenage sons, Calum, 17, and Aiden, 14. “The success in my role is definitely not mine

alone but those I represent on a daily basis. I also would like to acknowledg­e our board of directors for their support and belief in me and in the growth of women within the organisati­on.” Looking into the future, Lobendahn is adamant the company she now oversees can scale to greater heights, despite tough competitio­n and challenges. She is also resolute in her quest to nurturing the company’s workforce, which she said meant improving television products and services. “It is vital that we strive to improve our products and services with the ever changing technology environmen­t in which we all work. I believe having a highly effective, skilled team is also vital to continue to give our viewers something good to come home to every day.” Her message to women, especially those wanting to break into commerce and the corporate world, is simple – work hard, with passion and positivity! “There is no proven recipe to success other than hard work, knowing your work, owning it and allowing your work to show your prowess and ability in the company, in the market and in the industry.” “Passion and a positive attitude is like the unconsciou­s drive that you must have personally to carry you through the challenges that come daily—and unexpected­ly.”

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 ??  ?? Lobendahn pictured inside Fiji TV’s studio.
Lobendahn pictured inside Fiji TV’s studio.
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 ??  ?? Advisor and guide….Lobendahn explains to a Fiji TV staff.
Advisor and guide….Lobendahn explains to a Fiji TV staff.
 ??  ?? Her pillar of success…Front (L-R) Aiden, mum Rose and Calum Back: Lobendahn with husband Fernando
Her pillar of success…Front (L-R) Aiden, mum Rose and Calum Back: Lobendahn with husband Fernando
 ??  ?? Looking into the future….WIB Awards 2018 Executive Woman of Year.
Looking into the future….WIB Awards 2018 Executive Woman of Year.

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