Jane is currently CEO and Publisher for the Digital Division (Metropolitan) at Fairfax Media. In this role, Jane is charged with leading the product, mobile, video and online business strategies and oversees the technology, digital marketing and online editorial and creative services divisions. Websites include smh.com.au, theage.com.au, watoday.com.au, brisbanetimes.com.au, essentialbaby.com.au, weatherzone.com.au, findababysitter.com.au and thevine.com.au
Jane brings to Fairfax Media more than 20 years of strategic business, marketing, and change management experience. For over fifteen years she held various technical, sales and marketing positions with Microsoft, and has also previously worked at international organizations including Vodafone and DigitalOne.
She has been at Fairfax Media for four years.
Describe yourself in 3 words: Passionate, caring, loyal.
What is your life motto? If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? I’ve been working for over 20 years now! The notion of a career didn’t really occur to me until I was about 10 years in, stopped to consider my skills and talents, and started to plan how to best leverage these. “Successful” I think comes after this awareness – when you do find a place for your skills and talents and you use these to their best advantage.
How much time and effort did you dedicate? Early on in my career, I gave it my all. Weekends, late nights and travelling were the norm. However, I absolutely loved what I was doing, and the people I was working with–so it didn’t feel like hard work at the time. I think the key here is to love what you do. Of course, it helped that I was young, energetic, and didn’t have a family. The hard work I did early on, set me up to make different choices later on in my career. I still work hard, but I have a more balanced approach as I have two little girls at home.
What are the challenges in your line of work? The pace of change is constant. Keeping up, keeping the team motivated and aligned. Devoting enough time to thinking as well as doing is tough. I love a challenge though. I think if I didn’t have things that “kept me awake at night” I would feel as if I wasn’t pushing hard enough.
What feedback taught you an extremely valuable lesson? I think the most valuable piece of feedback, and lesson learned, was not to take things personally. Takes a long time to learn this, but when you do it feels quite liberating, and allows you to view the business and your own performance through different lenses.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? Hire the best team you can, show them what the finish line looks like and then get out of the way. Trust them to do their jobs. Makes life easier for everyone.
In your mind, is formal training essential? Training is essential, however it may come in various guises, not just formal classroom stuff. Most of what I have learned has come through working with good managers, mentors and just listening to smart people. Over the last couple of years I went back to Uni to earn a degree in Change Management as I believe this skill set is essential for every chief executive. The point is that you can never, ever stop developing – there is always something to be learned.
Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? I have a number of mentors who I go to when I need different things, kind of like a pick ‘n mix selection. You need to find people or connections in your network that have qualities or experience that you admire or would like to replicate, and then work with them to develop your own capabilities. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without my mentors.
What are some steps those starting out can take to start/further their career? Work hard, be interested in the business, and get a good grounding in fundamental skills – finance, product, project management, sales. Respect the people around you and have fun.
What kept you going when you weren’t at your best? Friends, family, champions and chardonnay! I think having kids is a great leveller. When I get home, they want me to be mum, regardless of the day I’ve had. Quite often when I’m playing with them I think “if only the CEO could see me now….”
Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? You know, I nearly put “lucky” in my three word description about myself. When I think about luck, it’s more about having a “glass half full” or optimistic way of looking at things, particularly change. I think I’m lucky, but I’ve also been able to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. I’ve also been willing to take a risk, or move sideways or backwards career wise to get to the goal.