“I Prefer To Read On Paper” Confesses Google’s Aussie MD Maile Carnegie

“I Prefer To Read On Paper” Confesses Google’s Aussie MD Maile Carnegie

Continuing B&T’s Women in Media series, today we stop by for a chat with Google’s managing director of Australia and New Zealand, Maile Carnegie.

Niki Waldegrave
Posted by Niki Waldegrave

What’s your back story in a nutshell (the non-LinkedIn one?)
I grew up in North Epping (in Sydney). I wasn’t spectacular at any one thing. At school I was always torn between creative subjects and analytical ones. My big break was landing a job with Procter & Gamble. I realised I loved solving problems – and that most problems need both creativity and analysis. I’ve just kept on doing that ever since.

If you weren’t doing this particular job, what would you be doing?
I think I would probably be in a start-up. Part of me is impatient, and there’s a pace and a focus in start-ups, born of economic necessity, that appeals. Start-ups are critical to Australia’s future prosperity. They have a disregard for the impossible that is hard not to love.

What are your passions, both in work and outside of it?
I have a deep-seated affection for Australia. I love this place. My passion is helping make sure we are doing what’s needed to create a better society and secure our prosperity for the next generation. Which includes my kids. Outside work I’m a full-time working mother with two boys so this keeps me busy. Beyond being a taxi to my kids, I try to help them learn the skills I think they’ll need and make it seem like fun. We recently got a 3D printer at home. My boys and I tried to print a dragon using it. It wasn’t very successful. There were lots of fiddly bits. And the head fell off.

How do you define leadership?
I hate answering that question! At its heart, leadership remains simple – creating a vision, getting people excited and removing roadblocks. What’s more interesting to me are leadership behaviours – these change over time. A great leader today behaves differently to one of fifty years ago and even one of fifteen years ago.

What makes you tick and go that extra mile to do what you do?
I have a productive amount of paranoia. I’m always convinced we’re about to be beaten to the chase on something. So I get up earlier. I spend a lot of time thinking about the future we will leave to our children. I want my kids to have the same standard of living and opportunities we had. That’s not guaranteed. So that’s a great motivator.

How do you get others onboard with your vision?
Hard data. And raw emotion. Google is a very data-driven company – and it should be. But ideas won’t become reality unless people really get behind them. There’s too much going on. Passion is infectious and I hope I have infected a lot of people.

What are the qualities you seek in people you want to partner with and work with?
I love working with people who can change my mind. Being fun goes a long way too. People with a sense of humour are an undervalued asset at work. They make long days short.

What five words would your staff use to describe you?
Force of Nature. There, you’ve got two words spare.

What’s the best thing about working in the industry?
Marketing has this incredible diversity to it. Some of the most creative and imaginative minds on the planet, through to some of the most fiercely analytical. Any industry that has people in suits working alongside people in t-shirts is pretty diverse. I love it.

What advice would you give a female graduate or a newbie contemplating in the media/advertising/marketing industry?
Your career is incredibly long. Think about managing a fifty year career, not just one, two or five year chunks. And if you have kids, when the wild years of raising young children inevitably pass, make sure you have given yourself enough interests and options, including in your career, that you still feel your full self.

What’s your ultimate career goal?
I think less about an ultimate role than impact. I want to look back and feel that – in some way or another – I contributed to the country that Australia becomes. Whether it’s helping small businesses embrace new opportunities, assisting the CSIRO commercialise Australian innovations, or getting more Aussie kids to study STEM. Though some days, I would settle for being able to successfully 3D print a dragon.

Who’s your industry hero?
Jack Manning-Bancroft (founder of the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) has done incredible things. He’s unstoppable. I am continually inspired by what he has managed to achieve with AIME. If you don’t know it, go Google it. A true Australian hero.

Tell us something surprising we don’t know about you?
It’s not fashionable for a Googler to say, but I hate reading on screens. Give me paper any day.