Pandora’s Jane Huxley talks ‘SWIMMing lessons’

Early Wednesday morning, Talent International had the privilege of hosting the ever-eloquent and inspiring Jane Huxley, Managing Director of Pandora Radio Australia/New Zealand for Talent’s first SWIMM. (Senior Women in Media and Marketing) event.


Sydney-based Digital Account Manager Heidi Hawkins, inspired by her attendance at previous SWIMM events, has recently begun hosting her own aspirational breakfast seminars at Talent, so it was very fitting for Talent and SWIMM to join forces and continue to share inspiring leadership stories with like-minded female marketing and media industry leaders and professionals.


Jane Huxley shared with the audience her five key life lessons learnt during her 25-year career in strategic business, marketing, sales and change management. These lessons grounded and developed her, giving her the courage, conviction and resilience to take a leap of faith and head-up and ‘scale-up’ in 2012 Pandora Radio Australia/New Zealand – a music streaming service, giving listeners the music they WANT to hear through online connected devices.

So what do you typically do when someone tells you not to touch something that might cause you harm? Curiosity usually kills the cat and you would probably touch it anyway right?

Jane has a mission – to assist aspiring women (and men) avoid danger zones in business or ‘hot plate situations’ as she refers to them. Jane’s premise is that most successful and ambitious people will have moments in their careers when they will be tempted to touch the ‘hot plate’. And that is what Jane’s hour spent at Talent was all about: sharing her insights into managing difficult situations and working your way, through, around or at best, out of them by following her five lessons. Jane admits, “You won’t make the same mistakes I made, but you probably will still touch anyway”!


Be self aware

Jane’s first lesson in her career stemmed from her first role at Microsoft. It was the year 1989 and Jane was working within a technical division team of 40. Imagine DOS and the very first version of Word – that is what she was working with at the time. Jane was the first woman that really went for it at Microsoft. Jane worked harder than everyone else. And boy she could type – which at the time was an admirable skill to have.

She would read and learn, but most importantly she could identify gaps within the organisation giving her the ability to show how valuable an asset she was. “Look around and see where the gaps are. Where does your capability fit in?” she asked the group. As a result of her self awareness, a skillset Jane believes is critical to a successful leadership role, she went on to develop throughout a 15 year career as Director with Microsoft.


Self Management – without this, self awareness means nothing

“The best friend of self awareness is self management” Jane revealed. You can have all the self awareness in the world, however, if you do not manage it in the right way, what use will it be to you? Jane explained that self awareness and self management go hand-in-hand and if you can manage both effectively you are onto a winning formula.


Use your power in the workplace for good

You might not be at the top of the ranks within your organisation, but you are someone people gravitate towards for advice. You are respected among your peers and are valued by your colleagues. This puts you in a position of power – even if you don’t realise it just yet! “It is not the position you have, it is the perception of the people you have around you” said Jane. So what do you do with the power you have acquired once you have it? You use it for good! You help and take responsibility for the people around you. That is what makes a great leader and you will be respected for that.


The right mindset will dictate your success

“Eat optimism for breakfast” is Jane’s mantra. This was a mantra that came about after a difficult turning point in her career when Director of Microsoft at the time, Steve Vamos and as Jane refers to him ‘supporter of human beings’ stepped in to give her some advice. According to Jane, this advice “changed the trajectory of her career”. In reference to the difficulties she was experiencing at the time, Steve explained to Jane “this will derail your career”. Steve provided Jane with a trusted mentor who taught her that whenever she was caught up in ‘hot plate’ situations at work – to remember ‘It’s not personal’ or ‘INP’.

Over the course of Jane’s career she has collected a total of 72 notebooks (She is onto her 6th at Pandora). And at the top of each page she writes on she has the title ‘INP’. This keeps Jane in the right ‘mindset’ daily, especially when the going gets tough.



Have a laugh and a wine at the end of a long day

It is important to celebrate wins and successes and it is equally important to look back on a hard days work, reflect, laugh and have a drink – either with your peers or by yourself (within reason of course!)

As Jane was making her way out the door after the seminar to head back to the Pandora office in Chippendale, she shared with us her ‘optimism’ station frequently listened to on Pandora.

“My personal favourite Pandora station bases itself around the song “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. And of course, with the way Pandora works, I can listen to music with the same ‘DNA’ as that song for hours,” Jane revealed.