“We Are Changing The World,” says Twitter Australia’s MD, Karen Stocks

“We Are Changing The World,” says Twitter Australia’s MD, Karen Stocks
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Twitter Australia’s managing director Karen Stocks has revealed the speed at which technology is changing puts her outside of her comfort zone and claims the company is “changing the world”.

In an interview with B&T the queen of hashtags said that although she is outside her comfort zone, the rate at which the industry innovates exhilarates her.

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“I think the nature of the industry that I am in my day to day is outside of my comfort zone,” she said. “When I’m in an industry that moves so rapidly, I can’t begin to comprehend everything that happens.

“Actually it’s really difficult for people that are used to being in control to step into a space going, ‘actually I don’t know the answer’. But it’s okay. Technology is fundamentally changing the way humans connect and I want to be part of that.

“That’s what gets my heart beating faster. Imaging working for a company with that belief. I fundamentally believe we are changing the world.

“The best thing is that next week I don’t know what is going to happen. We are innovating at such a pace, that when I think about my career and the fact that when I started university none of the companies I work for even existed; it’s the rate of pace, the way we’re changing. The fact we’re solving so many structural problems for communities in general in this industry is just really exciting.”

Stocks also talks about her leadership style and what she looks for when hiring new recruits, adding, “you don’t hire people with the main expertise as much as you would in a traditional law or accounting business. In fact, a lot of the times you’ve got people working for you that may be smarter and know things in the industry better than you don’t.

“Again, that can be quite confronting from a leadership perspective, so you have to ask yourself, ‘how comfortable am I sitting in a space where I’m not the smarted person in the room or I’m not the one that knows everything?

“For me, I think it’s more around thinking, ‘how do I create an environment where everybody is comfortable bringing their whole self to work and they’re inspired, motivated and have the ability to be the best that they can be?

“I think it’s around sharing what that vision is, getting people to believe in it, align to it and showing them how to get there. You also have to plug into people’s personal passions and agendas and it’s really important to do that because some journeys aren’t for everybody, and that’s perfectly okay. But it’s important to make sure the journey connects with those that want to be part of it.”

And forget Kim Kardashian’s grease-smeared bum breaking the internet, Stocks said the ‘Ellen selfie’, which was taken at the 2014 Oscars, reached half the world’s population and temporarily crashed the site.

“Ultimately, we want to connect everyone on the planet,” she said. “Remove the barriers of communication and democratise the web.

“If we look at global tweets I think we look at the Ellen selfie and they way that they just took off. It reached half the world population saw that tweet on and off the platform, I think that’s a great example that most people bring to mind.”

Stocks also explained how the philanthropic side of Twitter works, using Commonwealth Bank’s recent campaign with JCDecaux as an example.

Launched as part of the CBA’s Clowning For Kids appeal, the campaign generated instant crowdfunding via engagement with a custom built JCDecaux Innovate panel featuring an inbuilt camera and LCD touch screen that was installed in Sydney’s Martin Place in March for six days.

The campaign encouraged people to post selfies of their funny faces and for each one they donated $5 to the charity, Clown Doctors, which helps more than 180,000 sick children and their families annually by conducting ‘Clown Rounds’ in all of Australia’s major children’s hospitals.

“I think that was a really good campaign,” she said. “One that made me smile. I was motivated to put selfies up there with funny faces, my team did and a lot of other people did and I think that kind of community engagement, having a bit of fun, is really great to see.

“Something that I look at is the way brands like that are using the platform. It’s a really great way of tapping into behavior that already happens, having a bit of fun with it and also turning that into a phenomenal donation to an important organization that’s doing so much good in this country.”

Surprisingly Stocks’ favourite ‘Twitterer or Tweeter’ is Lisa Alexander, the head coach for our national netball team, the Australian Diamonds.

“If I sum up my passions in probably three words it would be netball, netball, netball,” she said. “I love getting Lisa’s perspective right from the coach directly on what she is thinking especially with the world cup coming up this year, and how she’s thinking around team selections and strategy and performance and what she thinks. I just love her insight.

“I don’t play anymore. I used to play goal shooter or goal keeper, but my daughter plays. I watch it every week and follow the ANZ Championships. I’m really excited about the world netball cup being in Australia this year.”

Karen Stocks is speaking at the two-day Daze of Disruption event, held at Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre, on Monday and Tuesday, May 18-19. Stocks’ presentation is on Tuesday.

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